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Sparrow caregivers plan picket for better staffing, patient care

Sparrow Hospital
WKAR File Photo
WKAR File Photo
Members of the Professional Employees Council of Sparrow Hospital plan an "informational picket" outside the main campus on Wednesday.

Unionized caregivers at Sparrow Hospital plan to picket outside the main campus in downtown Lansing Wednesday. They’re now working under an expired contract.

The contract that covers some 2,200 nurses, pharmacists and lab scientists ran out on October 30.

The Professional Employees Council of Sparrow Hospital says Sparrow is doing a poor job retaining its most experienced workers, and their loss is impacting morale and productivity.

Union president Katie Pontifex says when Sparrow asked her members to accept a one-year contract extension to help prevent layoffs, they willingly took minimal raises and froze their longevity bonuses.

“Fast forward to spring and we find out that our managers, our administrators and our executives all received their 2020 bonuses,” Pontifex said. “They were, from what we’ve confirmed, hefty payouts. It was a real smack in the face.”

Sparrow Chief Nursing Officer Amy Brown says the hospital is proposing some pay increases.

“Our proposal was to reinstate the longevity bonus, a four percent general (wage increase) for the very first year, three (percent) and a one (percent) for the second and third year and high shift differentials for nights, weekends and other things,” Brown said.

Brown says the hospital doesn’t have a retention problem, but rather a situation in which bedside nurses are looking for other positions.

The two sides have called for a federal mediator and plan a series of meeting this month.

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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