Auxiliary staff picket, rally in front of McLaren Bay Region

Some workers at McLaren Bay Region are feeling overworked and underpaid, so they made their voices heard in front of the Bay City hospital on Wednesday.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 5:32 PM EDT
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BAY CITY, Mich. (WNEM) - Some workers at McLaren Bay Region are feeling overworked and underpaid, so they made their voices heard in front of the Bay City hospital on Wednesday.

The Auxiliary staff said they’ve worked without a contract for months and they want hospital administrators to hear them.

“What do want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!” Auxiliary staff at McLaren Bay Region chanted, making their voices heard.

“This is a first for us, but it’s kind of nice because we got the backing of a lot of people out here and we’re not sitting down anymore,” said Sharron Adlam.

Adlam and union members from Unite Here Local 24 held a picket and rally in front of the hospital in Bay City. Adlam said McLaren has walked away from the negotiating table.

“We’ve been working without a contract since February, and McLaren just won’t budge,” she said.

Around 300 support staff including nurse aides, nurse clerks, surgical support teams, housekeeping, and maintenance are just some of the groups that want McLaren to do more.

Kristy Ahler, a nursing clerk in the Emergency Room, said one of the big issues is staff shortages.

“We have emergency rooms that are full of patients, that our average wait time is four to six hours,” she explained.

Karen Lowery, a endoscopic patient care associate, agreed.

“We had a girl the other night who worked on a floor by herself and she had 30 patients who she had to care for. If you do the math, that’s one patient every two minutes,” Lowery explained. “That’s not enough care. Would you want somebody to give two minutes to your mother if she was here?”

Lowery said most of the union members don’t make minimum wage.

“It’s not right, McLaren. People should make more than $13 an hour in today’s society,” she said.

McLaren Bay Region President and CEO Darrell Lentz released the following statement:

“McLaren Bay Region is currently negotiating its service unit employee contract with UNITE HERE Local 24, which represents approximately 300 support staff who work at our hospital. Our goal is to establish a contract that is beneficial to both parties, and we are committed to that outcome. As negotiations continue, our hospital leadership and physicians remain focused on outstanding patient care and services, and the bargaining process has not compromised that focus. However, the service union has chosen to conduct an informational picket, which is within their rights, but does not impact the outcome of negotiations.

McLaren Bay Region has earned recognition for quality patient care. It is typical for unions to engage in such activities to try to pressure the employer at negotiations. These tactics are not often successful. The current union activities will not distract our team from its continued dedication to high-quality patient care.

We are hopeful that we will reach a mutually agreeable contract in the very near future. Until that time, our focus will continue to be serving the patients who come to our hospital and entrust us with their care.”

For her part, Adlam is hoping to negotiate a fair contract.

“We don’t want to make millions, we just want to make a comfortable living. That’s all we want,” she said.

Adlam said the Auxiliary staff are prepared to strike if necessary, but they are hoping more negotiations with McLaren Bay Region will take place before it gets to that point.

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