LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The fight over a new contract between health workers and Sparrow Hospital is heating up.
The union representing health care workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if needed.
Sparrow Hospital has responded by making changes to the proposed contract in the last hour.
The strike authorization vote that was passed Monday morning does not mean there will be a strike but gives the team the option to call one. One employee told 6 News that she and her fellow nurses feel left behind.
“[I’m] really disappointed because we feel that we have stuck with Sparrow throughout, not only this staffing crisis prior to the pandemic but through the pandemic,” said Sparrow Nurse Destinee Griffin.
Griffin is a union member and has been a nurse at Sparrow Hospital for more than 9 years. She says that even though she does not want to strike, it does show unity among workers.
“The whole point of this strike would be to highlight the issues that are affecting not only nurses and health care professionals but patients,” said Griffin.
Workers started the month with an information picket that drew hundreds after the current contract expired at the end of October. The vote gives the union the ability to call for a strike with a 10-day notice. Griffin says if there is a strike, the community will still be taken care of.
An official with Sparrow was not available for comment, but they did release a statement saying the intent is to work out a fair contract with the union with the help of a federal mediator.
For Griffin, the goal is for better pay and safety as the pandemic continues.
“We want the ability to care for ourselves if we are sick and that includes without punishment, being able to call in sick when needed and we want a guarantee PPE for when we are caring for suspected or COVID positive patients,” said Griffin.
In a statement from Sparrow Hospital, the administration said that a new proposal will increase pay for certain workers in a range of 15.6% to 19% over the course of a 3-year contract. There are no changes to health benefits.
The next step is for the union to either agree or disagree with the new proposal.