Michigan Nurses - page 2

I am looking for Michigan nurses;) I just graduated from an ADN program and I am interested in getting involved in nursing politics in Michigan. ie. Michiagn Nurses Association. Does anyone know... Read More

  1. by   -jt
    <MNA represents Sparrow Hospital for their union, recently a strike was averted when a settlement was reached, however it is worth noting that the contract language does not forbid mandatory overtime. For myself I am not sure if MNA is what I would wish to work with or not. I have swung back and forth about that. I can't help but feel that an organization that is also bargaining for nurses should above all else ensure that mandatory overtime is not able to be utilized in any setting they represent.>

    The union is trying to do exactly that writing, & lobbying for state and national legislation to prohibit MOT, and by campaigning for legislators who will support that cause - for all nurses - not just the union members.

    Until we have that, bargaining units of nurses can choose to obtain it collectively in the contract with their facilities or they can choose to make concessions on it despite what the union wants. They have the right to say no to anything the union wants to bargain for. If the union rep wants to bargain for MOT restrictions and the nurses don't, the union rep cannot just do what she wants to do because she has to do what the nurses want to do. Same thing if the union rep wants to strike for MOT restrictions but the nurses dont. The union reps cant do what the nurses dont want to do.

    The union, in my experience, bargains for things that nurses sometimes are willing to give up when they vote. If we want to have a union that is run by its members & is not some office dictating to the members what will be, and we want the members in control of their own work lives,... and we do....this is just one of the things that we all have to live with. The nurses make the decisions and they are the ones who have to live with the results of those decisions.

    Let me tell you a little story about this sort of thing......

    As you know I am a hospital staff RN and a staff RN rep for the union of nurses at my hospital (represented by NYSNA). In 1996, we had a horrendous labor battle. In the end, 3 days before our strike was to start, the hospital found out the state was not going to let any of the strike-breaker nurses work because the company they worked for did not have a license in our state. Suddenly, with the staff nurses walking out & no nurses crossing in, our hospital saw its way clear to FINALLY turn in an offer (after 18 months of nonsense) that addressed all of our needs - except mandatory OT. We brought it for a vote because it did meet ALL the other things we had said we needed and the nurses had a right to have a say on whether it was good enough, but we told our colleagues that we did not recommend voting yes to this contract because it did not prohibit or even restrict mandatory ot. We did not recommend the contract even though all of our other proposals were included in it. It was 1996 and our hospital hadnt been using mandatory ot so the nurses felt "whats the big deal. Everything else is there so lets just vote yes & avert this strike."

    The staff RN reps tried to get them to understand what they were leaving themselves open to by agreeing to a contract that had language to allow for mandatory ot. We brought in articles from other places to show them what was happening to nurses without mandatory ot restricitons - just in case they hadnt been keeping up with what was going on out there (some hadnt). We explained & explained & explained.

    The NYSNA lawyer and nurse negotiator along with us staff RN reps (this is the negotiating team) held a ton of meetings to educate the nurses on just what mandatory ot was all about and what it would mean to not have restrictions in place. We didnt have such a shortage in NYC at the time and most nurses at my hospital never even heard of mandatory OT. Guess what happened?........

    Some nurses accused us of trying to delay the vote! lol!!!
    The typical damned- if -you -do- damned -if -you -dont scenario. The reps and the union were trying to make sure the nurses were informed, knew what they were voting on & and knew the ramifications of their vote. (If we hadnt done that, we would have been accused of failing them). We tried very hard to get them to understand what they were voting on and how it would affect the future, regardless of what was happening now. They had to live with this contract for 3 yrs & had to look down the line - not at yesterday.

    But all they wanted to know was that they were in a strike count-down and the offer they were given addressed their needs and nobody was doing any mandatory ot anyway so if they vote yes, they can all go home and this would all be over.

    And thats just what they did. By a slim majority. But with no strike breakers allowed to come in, we had the hospital by the you know whats and the nurses could have said no - we want MOT restriction or we walk. And they had no nurses to replace us so we would have gotten those restrictions way back then & still not have to strike. The staff RN reps told the nurses all about this, the union lawyer and rep explained it BUT the nurses didnt think it was necessary. They figured that since they didnt have MOT at that facility, they never would so it was a moot point- despite us telling them that they were leaving themselves wide open for it & had to protect themselves for the future.

    But since the union takes direction from the staff nurses and not the other way around, the nurses did what they wanted to do - not what the reps wanted them to do - as is how it should be - and they voted yes for the contract........ and then spent the next 3 years finding out exactly what mandatory ot was all about - through first hand experience.

    I think the first mandatory ot was called before the print was even dry on the new contract. And it just snowballed from there. Because the nurses voted to accept a contract that allowed it. Vacant positions were frozen, recruiting efforts stopped, agency was canceled, OT for per siems was not allowed because they get paid more than staff, and the gaps were filled in with mandatory ot of the staff. At one time we had units with 9 RNs per day on mandatory ot - 3 from each shift everyday.

    Guess what the number 1 item on their agenda for the next contract was......

    Yup. Prohibit Mandatory OT. This time, we got it.... 6 days after we voted to strike for it. MOT is prohibited now except in cases of declared city, state, or federal emergency. If the nurses had paid attention to the nurse colleagues they elected to represent them in the union they chose to represent them, they could have saved themselves several years of misery but the nurses are not in control - not the union reps.

    The nurses had spoken, so the union had to go along with what they wanted because thats how it is - the RNs themselves run the show. All the union can do is make sure the RNs are educated enough about the issue so they make informed choices. Even though the union felt the contract could be made better and the ball was in our court to do that without the strike even happening, the nurses wanted to take the contract as is, so thats what we had to do because the nurses are the ones in charge.

    Though they were well-informed, they made their choice based on what HAD been & not what they were allowing TO be because at the time MOT was not such an issue at our hospital. As soon as they made that choice, (accepting - against union advice - a contract that did not restrict MOT) that changed pretty quickly. Once they agreed to a contract that allows mandatory ot, it was difficult to fight the use of mandatory ot. We managed to get it slowed down & frozen positions opened up & people hired to help alleviate the MOT but it was based on different clauses in the contract. While that contract was in effect, we couldnt get rid of MOT completly because the nurses with their vote basically said they accept it.

    So you see, its not always the union to blame for not getting you what you need. The professional nurses union doesnt lay down the law you live by at work. The nurses do - by what they are willing to accept. In 2000, at my hospital they were no longer willing to accept what they accepted in 1996 and so they changed it.
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 20, '01
  2. by   -jt
    geez.....I definitely had too much coffee tonight!

    Ok back to the topic...... I was with some of the Michigan NA staff nurses in Washington DC in June and Las Vegas in Sept - a great group of pro-active nurses.... and not bad at the slot machines either! ; ) I just got their publication in the mail too - Michigan Nurse. Very interesting stuff happening over there.

    Michigan NA is a member of the ANA and a founding member of the UAN - the national labor union for RNs - and the whole of Michigan NA is doing some great work for all nurses in your state. When you join your state association, you automatically become a member of the ANA as well. You pay dues to the state association and it shares a part of that with the ANA for your membership there. Nurses who are unionized with the state association where they work pay one amount for dues but have membership in all 3 - the state association, the ANA, and the UAN.

    Nurses who are not unionized with their state association where they work and are only joining for state association/ANA membership pay less dues.

    Heres the link to Michigan NA. You can do a search on their website for your field of clinical interest and also go to the Govermental Affairs section to become involved in the political aspects for nurses in your state:


    You can also become active in their Political Action Committee (PAC) or their grass roots group - Nurses Impact.
    Nurses Impact has a big event coming up for all nurses in the state - not just its members, so bring your nurse-friends!:

    <<<Nurses Impact 2002
    Annual State Legislative Event - Tuesday, April 23, 2002

    As a member of the largest and most trusted group of health care providers, you can make a difference. Help your legislators see the health care system through the eyes of a nurse and patient advocate.

    The day-long event includes instructional sessions about state and federal legislation, as well as a look at emerging trends and concerns in healthcare. You will have the opportunity to meet with your state legislators at an informal breakfast and in their office.

    ***** Our honored guest and speaker, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate and current Michigan Attorney General, Jennifer Granholm. ******

    Make this the year to demonstrate your commitment to nursing's future! Make an IMPACT on April 23, 2002!

    Look for registration at www.minurses.org in February or the February 2002 Michigan Nurse.

    http://www.minurses.org/gov/impact02.shtml >>>>>>>>>

    Good luck in your new job.
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 20, '01
  3. by   -jt
    <<Sparrow Hospital for their union, recently a strike was averted when a settlement was reached, however it is worth noting that the contract language does not forbid mandatory overtime>>

    Actually Helen - no healthcare providers contract FORBIDS M.O.T. because pts must be cared for in emergencies like disasters and the employer must have a way to ensure that. So you will not see any contract that says FORBIDDEN AT ALL TIMES, but just as good is restrictions that allow it only in defined emergencies (like disasters).

    So it is worth noting that the language for Sparrow does most certainly provide for significant restrictions on MOT, and thats why the contract was approved by the nurses & accepted. The language is as follows:

    <<Michigan Nurses Association - Sparrow:

    Mandatory Overtime - Precedent-setting language states that:

    *Mandatory overtime may ONLY be scheduled in emergent situations.

    *Professional employees have the right, based on their clinical judgment, to refuse an overtime assignment if it would pose a threat to patient care.

    *The hospital agrees to incorporate measures, such as more flexible scheduling options, to ensure that mandatory overtime is NOT used as a staffing tool.


    {MOT may only be used in emergencies and even then, the RN there now has the right to say "no, Im tired."
    Mandatory OT cannot be used as a staffing tool - meaning they cant schedule it to fill shortages on the schedule. They have to fill those shortages before the shift begins - hire more staff, schedule agency, per diem, or voluntary OT but they cant use M.O.T.
    Sick calls are not considered an "emergent situation" - unless something like the whole shift on the unit called in sick at the same time. People on vacation is not an emergent situation. Staffing gaps on the schedule are not emergent situations. All of which we know are usually filled by MOT - this language at Sparrow now prohibits that.}

    I'd say this language is a win on MOT and congratulations to Sparrow nurses for achieving it!
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 20, '01