Nurses sue U of M over refusal to bargain over safe workloads

Issue is tied directly to nurses’ patient safety concerns

ANN ARBOR – The Michigan Nurses Association filed a lawsuit Monday against the University of Michigan, alleging that it is breaking the law by refusing to bargain over nurses’ workloads in its contract negotiations with the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council (MNA-UMPNC).

The 6,200 MNA-UMPNC nurses have been working without a contract since July 1. Although negotiations continue, a major stumbling block is the administration’s refusal to discuss a top priority for nurses – their workload in terms of number of patients assigned per nurse, which is tied directly to patient safety concerns that nurses have been raising for months.

“When nurses are forced to take care of too many people at once, patient care gets compromised and nurses are put in danger of injury or burnout, and that’s happening far too often at our hospital,” said Renee Curtis, RN, president of MNA-UMPNC. “Our union is fighting for patient safety, first and foremost. It’s absurd to think that conversations about how to keep patients safe can be effective without talking about our nurses’ workloads.”

Years of scientific research have established the link between inadequate nurse-to-patient ratios and preventable infections, falls and even deaths. Research also shows that chronic understaffing contributes to injuries and burnout for nurses.

MNA-UMPNC nurses have spoken out about potentially unsafe situations, including filing 1,090 forms with management that document concerns so far this year. That compares to 1,000 for all of 2021.

MNA also filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge Monday with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC). The lawsuit, filed in the Michigan Court of Claims, asks for an injunction forcing the university to bargain over workload ratios immediately, pending MERC’s ruling. MNA contends that the university is violating the Public Employment Relations Act, which designates workload and safety as mandatory subjects of bargaining.

MNA-UMPNC nurses will be sharing their experiences and more information with the community at a town hall speakout this Thursday, August 18 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at IBEW Local 252, 7920 Jackson Road in Ann Arbor. Community members can RSVP to attend at

The University of Michigan regents hold the contract with MNA-UMPNC.

The Unfair Labor Practice Charge with MERC and the filing in the Michigan Court of Claims can be viewed here.

The Michigan Nurses Association is the largest union and professional association representing registered nurses and healthcare professionals in Michigan. MNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United and AFL-CIO.


Contact: Dawn Kettinger, 517-721-9688

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.