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Thousands of health care workers at Sparrow Hospital could strike if contract agreement is not reached

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Kevin Lavery, WKAR
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Sparrow workers picket along Michigan Avenue in Lansing on Nov. 3, 2021.

A union representing thousands of health care workers at Sparrow Hospital will begin voting Tuesday on whether to go on strike.

Over the last several months, the Professional Employees Council of Sparrow Hospital has been trying to negotiate a contract on behalf of health care workers at Sparrow.

The previous contract expired at the end of October and an agreement has not yet been reached between workers and the hospital.

Genevieve Bancroft, a negotiating team member with the Professional Employees Council of Sparrow Hospital, says they are looking for ways to retain and recruit staff members and have affordable health care plans.

“We proposed raises and what the hospital has offered does not meet anything that will entice people to come to Sparrow, and they've not done anything to encourage those of us that are here to stay," she said.

Bancroft says nurses like herself are burned out and systems need to be put in place to take care of the health care workers at Sparrow.

"Patients are sicker, they're coming to the hospital sicker, some people may have postponed medical care during the beginning of the pandemic and now they're coming to the hospital," she said. "And right now we have sort of a staffing issue where nurses are not having five or six patients, some are having up to ten patients. And that's really exhausting to our staff members."

A formal vote will be held from Tuesday to Sunday. If members approve the strike, thousands of Sparrow employees could walk out of their jobs.

"None of us want to go on strike. But we will do what we need to do to keep our community safe. Even if that means a work stoppage," Bancroft added.

The Professional Employees Council of Sparrow Hospital is scheduled to have two bargaining meetings this week with Sparrow to discuss a new contract.

If the strike authorization vote passes, the union would give a 10-day notice before a date to strike is set.

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