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Michigan Nurses Association takes legal action against Sparrow Hospital

Sparrow workers picket along Michigan Avenue in Lansing on November 3.
Kevin Lavery
Sparrow workers picket along Michigan Avenue in Lansing on November 3.

The Michigan Nurses Association has taken legal action against Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital on behalf of its unionized health care workers.

The unfair labor practice charge was filed Wednesday with the National Labor Relations Board.

"We are completely fed up with the anti-union attitude Sparrow executives have taken,” said Jessica Lannon, the grievance chair of the Professional Employees Council of Sparrow Hospital – Michigan Nurses Association and member of MNA’s Board of Directors. “They keep trying to silence the voices of caregivers. Sparrow’s administration has crossed the line too many times and must be held accountable.”

The complaint alleges the hospital violated federal labor law by telling workers they would cut benefits if they went on strike. That’s after the union overwhelmingly voted in favor of authorizing a strike if a contract isn’t reached.

Union members have been working at Sparrow with an expired contract since the end of October.

Bargaining teams met last Monday in hopes of reaching an agreement, but the hospital’s proposed contract was not accepted. The proposal involves an increase in wages but doesn't include changes to the cost of health insurance for workers, something the bargaining team is negotiating for.

“Sparrow’s actions can have real consequences for our patients. Our staffing situation has gone from bad to worse since they abandoned the safe staffing process in our contract,” said Jen Ackley, an emergency department nurse and a member of Sparrow caregivers’ elected bargaining team. “They should be spending less time illegally trying to silence us and more time trying to work with us. Our number one goal as union caregivers is to keep our patients safe.”

Sparrow spokesperson Jon Foren says they would be reviewing the complaints.

"We deny all the allegations in the complaint," he added.

Bargaining teams are expected to meet this coming week.

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