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Trinity hospital workers vow to ‘escalate’ fight for better contract

By: - January 19, 2022 2:59 pm

Parker Michels-Boyce / For States Newsroom

After nearly three years at the bargaining table, union hospital workers at Trinity Health-Mercy made it clear Monday that they are willing to ramp up their fight to receive a contract deal by the end of the month.

Close to 100 registered nurses, techs and hospital support staff, who are members of the SEIU Healthcare Michigan union, gathered Monday in Muskegon to announce a Jan. 31 deadline for a deal. If a deal is not reached by then, the workers say they are ready to authorize their bargaining committee to “do what is necessary.”

Members said they are still far apart from management on agreeing on key issues for a new contract.

“For two years, we’ve risked our health and safety, picked up extra shifts and worked long hours to ensure safe patient care, even if it means we’re exhausted [during the COVID-19 pandemic],” said Tinitco Moore, a health unit coordinator who has worked at Trinity Health-Mercy for over six years.

“After everything we’ve been through, Trinity workers know our worth and we’re prepared to take a stand for ourselves and our patients if we need to. We refuse to settle for a contract that leaves out the protections, incentives, and rights we need and deserve,” Moore continued.

In an email, Mercy Health Muskegon said Wednesday that the hospital “[has] always reached agreements with the union,” and sees no reason that will not happen again.

“Our negotiations are currently focused on non-economic items; and Mercy Health Muskegon has openly expressed our desire to increase the pace of the current negotiations to also address economic items,” the statement continued, adding that the hospital has offered some perks like sign-on bonuses that the union recently voted down.

“We look forward to increasing the pace of our negotiations, with the ultimate goal of reaching new agreements with the union.”

Among other proposals, SEIU members are seeking a safer, better work environment and fair compensation. According to the union, some Trinity-Health Mercy workers haven’t seen an annual wage increase since 2017. 

“We have sacrificed so much to keep our community safe and healthy. It’s time for a fair contract,” said Cyndi Zeanwick, a respiratory therapist at Trinity Health-Mercy for over 20 years.

“It’s time that Trinity respects and values its healthcare workers with fair wages, adequate staffing, and better working conditions so that we can continue to show up to deliver quality care for our patients.”

In early December, the Lansing-based Sparrow Hospital avoided a strike by reaching a contract deal with its union workers. 

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).