Trinity Grand Haven Hospital workers hold an informational picket on May 18, 2023. | Photo courtesy of SEIU Healthcare Michigan
Following seven months at the bargaining table, unionized workers at Trinity Health Grand Haven Hospital in West Michigan said Tuesday they will hold a one-day strike on Aug. 4 to protest understaffing and low wages, among other issues.
Close to 200 workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Michigan are set to strike over what employees and union leaders describe as bad faith bargaining, insufficient wages, and attempts to undermine the union. The unionized workers, whose contract expired Feb. 28, include diagnostic imaging techs, lab assistants, housekeepers, dietary workers, social workers, patient care associations, and medics, among other positions.
Trinity Grand Haven workers noted the strike will be held during the Coast Guard Festival – which hospital employees said in a press release brings in about 350,000 visitors to a city of about 11,000 people and “causes a strain on all services.”
“Low wages are resulting in recruiting and retention problems across our hospital, often forcing us to work short-staffed,” Beth Ruiter, a medical technologist at Trinity Grand Haven, said in a prepared statement. “Our community has invested in this hospital for decades, and they expect better care. We are going on strike because it’s time for Trinity to invest in workers. We must restore this hospital to being the pillar of the community it once was.”
In a statement emailed by a Trinity Health spokesperson, Amy Rotter, Trinity Health Grand Haven said it is “committed to negotiating in good faith with the collective bargaining union covering our colleagues who support the care of our patients.
“Completing these contracts and taking care of our colleagues and our community are top priorities and essential to our mission,” Trinity continued in its statement. “We fully support their right to participate in – or refrain from participating in – union activities. We follow the rules.”
Trinity said in its statement that the Aug. 4 strike “may require closing key hospital operations and redirecting patient care.
“However, Trinity Health Grand Haven is planning accordingly to support our community and provide the necessary services that they may need during this time,” the Trinity statement concluded.
Trinity Health acquired North Ottawa Community Hospital in October 2022, and the facility was renamed Trinity Health Grand Haven Hospital. At that time, about 200 hospital workers voted to affiliate with SEIU.
“We were a free-standing community hospital for over 100 years before we were purchased by Trinity Health,” said Ricky Kauffman, a lead radiographer at the Grand Hospital hospital. “We were able to operate because of the immense amount of support we received from the community. We have seen the quality of care become greatly challenged because of the staffing crisis. We want the community to know what’s happening inside the hospital and how focused we are on improving the quality of care and support our patients receive.”
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