Nurses ready to strike if company doesn't bargain for new contra - WNEM TV 5

Nurses ready to strike if company doesn't bargain for new contract

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Workers for a major Mid-Michigan employer are still looking to reach a new contract agreement.

With nothing signed they are not ruling out a potential strike next month.

They said they are ready to get a deal done if their employer will cooperate.

"My children are very stressed about it. They don't like when I go to work because they don't know when I'm coming home," said Jolie Swyrtek, nurse at Hurley Medical Center.

She said lately she has been regularly working 16 hour days and it is taking a toll on her and her family.

"It's been very stressful. Mandatory overtime, no lunches," Swyrtek said.

Swyrtek and her fellow nurses said it can all be remedied at the negotiation table.

Representatives from the nurses union and many nurses themselves went to speak at the Hurley Board of Managers meeting Wednesday night.

"We are here to ask the board to direct the bargaining team to return back to the bargaining table and finish negotiations," Union President Pamela Campbell said.

Campbell said the nurses are prepared to work towards common ground, but the hospital's negotiating team is not working with them.

"With the multiple hours of overtime, lack of staff and inability to have a reasonable assignment - it impacts our patients," Campbell said.

She said the hospital has given the union what they said is their "last best offer," but she said it's not complete and more negotiating needs to take place.

Hurley's CEO Melany Gavulic said she was confident the two sides can come to terms.

"The nurses and the pharmacists are so important to the medical center and we're very hopeful we'll get to the equitable contract we put on the table. We're very hopeful, very positive about it," Gavulic said.

The nurses aren't convinced. They said the future is frightening as the previous contract's expiration date gets closer.

"This isn't about financial gain for us or any of the above. We just want a contract so when we come to work we know what we're protected under. As much as the board of managers want this to be over, so do the nurses," said Amanda Smith, nurse.

If negotiations aren't made the union president said they have no choice but to vote on a strike on Aug. 9.

They hope it doesn't come to that, but Campbell said the previous contract expired in June of last year and the refusal to bargain is illegal.

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