Borgess nurses vote to give bargaining team ability to call for a strike

10-day notice would be provided before any strike begins

KALAMAZOO, MI – Nurses working at Ascension Borgess hospital in Kalamazoo, MI voted to give their bargaining team the ability to call for a strike if necessary. 86% voted in favor of the resolution, though only a simple majority was required for it to pass. A 10-day notice would be provided to the hospital before any strike begins.

“Our goal is to make sure that our next contract will put our hospital in a strong position to be able to retain experienced nurses and provide safe staffing on every shift,” said Lori Batzloff, a nurse and the president of the local Michigan Nurses Association bargaining unit at Ascension Borgess Hospital. “Our number one priority as nurses is to always be able to provide the highest quality of patient care.”

The strike authorization vote was held to protest Ascension’s conduct during negotiations and share concerns over what nurses consider to be a pattern of unfair labor practices committed by the health system. Negotiations will continue on Thursday, December 8. Nurses have been working under an expired contract since November 11.

“Time and again, Ascension executives have shown that they only respond to nurses when we speak out and show our solidarity,” said Nate Hoffman, a nurse at the hospital and member of the bargaining team. “I am truly hopeful that now that RNs have shown we are prepared to do what it takes, we will be able to reach a deal.”

Before last week’s negotiations session, Ascension executives were still demanding that nurses accept major concessions in their contract. However, after a community rally and the announcement of a strike authorization vote, Ascension’s tone started to change. On December 1, Ascension executives formally withdrew their proposals requiring nurses to work every other weekend and taking away all contractually protected leaves.

“Being part of a union means that we get to decide together, democratically, what we are willing to accept,” said Shane Jones, a nurse at Ascension Borgess who voted to provide the bargaining team with the ability to call for a strike. “I hope that Ascension’s administration has realized that we are willing to fight for a fair contract that will retain experienced nurses and keep the community safe.”

The Michigan Nurses Association is the largest and most effective union for nurses and healthcare professionals in Michigan, representing approximately 13,000 members across the state. MNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United and the AFL-CIO.  

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Contact: Amelia Dornbush, 517-896-7478

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