MGH nurses sign new 4-year pact

MARQUETTE – Marquette General Hospital has reached a new four-year agreement with its nurses’ union.

The pact will run through May 31, 2017, and is a modification of the current contract set to expire next month. MGH and the bargaining unit reached the deal following six weeks of negotiations.

“I’m very proud of how our nurses stuck together to advocate for ourselves and our patients,” said Carolyn Hietamaki, a registered nurse and president of the MGH RN Staff Council. “Our voice in the workplace is respected because we are nurses, but also because we are active members of a strong union. The nurses are pleased that now we can focus on collaborating with the hospital to grow and serve our community even better.”

The RN Staff Council is the Michigan Nurses Association bargaining unit at MGH and covers 457 nurses.

Under the new deal, MGH nurses will gradually pay more for heath care coverage; when the contract expires, the group will be paying 15 percent. Annual raises, however, will more than make up for that increase and will result in the nurses receiving a 5 percent increase in compensation over the life of the contract, according to the MNA.

The new package also includes improved scheduling language and new language to address nurse fatigue.

According to the MNA, the MGH pact “provides the most comprehensive wage and benefit package in the region.”

A statement from MGH confirmed the two sides had reached an agreement.

“As partners with our nurses, we will continue an unwavering commitment to safe, quality patient care,” the statement reads. “As the region’s single largest employer, MGH looks forward to advancing and strengthening that resolve with a team that includes our nurses, physicians and more than 2,600 dedicated employees.”

Dawn Kettinger, communications director for the Michigan Nurses Association, said the negotiation process was “positive” and “intense.” It marks the MGH nurses’ first contract since the hospital system was acquired by Duke LifePoint Healthcare.

“Our first concern is always patient care and making sure our nurses have the ability to be advocates for patient care,” she said. “We want to continue having good relationships with hospitals, regardless of ownership.”

The MNA, an affiliate of National Nurses United, represents 11,000 registered nurses across the state.

John Karebian, executive director of the MNA, highlighted the organization’s commitment to communities throughout the state.

“The Michigan Nurses Association backs our nurses everywhere … as they advocate for themselves and their patients,” he said in a prepared statment. “I’m pleased we could reach an agreement with Marquette General Hospital that supports our nurses’ advocacy, protects the quality of patient care and helps the hospital continue to grow.”

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.