Mid-Michigan nurses vote to authorize strike amid nursing shortage

(Source: WNEM)

Nurses in Mid-Michigan could go on strike after contract negotiations have gone south.

McLaren-Lapeer nurses are seeking a healthy dose of job security including increased staffing levels and higher wages for attracting and retaining nurses and new recruits, cutting nursing shortages.

“This is something that the nursing profession actually has worked with throughout time,” said David Peruski, assistant dean of Health and Human Services at Saginaw Valley State University.

Over the last year, several Mid-Michigan hospitals have dealt with labor disputes between the hospital and nurse’s union.

This week, nurses at McLaren-Lapeer voted to authorize a strike.

Peruski said a nationwide nurse shortage has forced RNs to try to do more with less in some cases.

“Hospitals are trying to look at their economic viewpoint, but also nurses are trying to look at how are patients positively impacted by their presence,” Peruski said.

He said the need for RNs will grow over the next several years.

“In Michigan, 37 percent of all the RN workforce is 55 or older. And so we know that nurses are going to be retiring over the next several years and into the next decade,” Peruski said.

That is why SVSU has expanded class sizes for RN hopefuls to get their bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“This increase was part of that demand to meet the need that we know is going to exist,” Peruski said.

The average starting pay for a registered nurse is about $27 per hour, Peruski said.

He believes scenes like the one in Lapeer will continue to play out over time.

Peruski hopes hospitals and nurses can work through their differences in the spirit of good medicine.

“The main thing that we always got to keep in the forefront is what is best for our patients,” Peruski said.

Copyright 2018 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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