On November 4th, Registered Nurses at McLaren Greater Lansing overwhelmingly ratified a historic contract, with 85% approving the agreement.
The new contract, covering about 400 RNs, makes MGL’s wages highly competitive in the regional market, improves staffing, and includes a staged approach to eliminate mandatory overtime. Here are the highlights:
- A 23% average increase in wages over three years for each member (including general increases and step increases)
- Ratification bonuses of $1,000 for full-time RNs and $500 for part-time RNs
- The elimination of mandatory overtime after one year
- Limits on how many days in a row an RN can be forced to work (until mandatory overtime is fully eliminated)
- Permanent incentive rates for RNs who pick up open shifts
- Improved staffing ratios
- Creation of a new electronic short-staffing report system, with new deadlines for when the hospital must respond to short-staffing reports
- Increased penalties to be paid by the hospital when shifts are short-staffed
- Guaranteed sign-on bonuses and referral bonuses to help recruit new RNs
- Increased shift premiums
- Increased on-call pay
- Increased pay for temporary assignments
- New contract language to address workplace violence against RNs and hold the hospital accountable for protecting its employees
- No concessions by RNs
“This is a pivotal moment for our profession and shows that we are a force to be taken seriously and appreciated,” says Tim Zlomak, ICU RN and Local 459 bargaining team member. “Local 459 RNs at McLaren have proven that together we are strong.”
“We all work in our individual areas, with the needs of staff and patients varying from unit to unit,” says Ellen Angel, OB RN and bargaining team member, “But we came together for this contract because we all need each other’s support. Through this process I have learned so much and have gained even more respect for my colleagues from other units.”
Over a span of five months, RNs across the hospital wore gold shirts, bracelets, badge reels and other items to demonstrate their unity. More than 300 RNs (as well as hundreds of other Local 459 members at MGL) signed a petition demanding an end to uncompetitive pay, short staffing, and excessive mandatory overtime. A delegation of union members presented this petition to CEO Kirk Ray on September 30th.
On October 3rd, RNs held an informational picket at the hospital, standing alongside homecare and hospice RNs represented by the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA). Hundreds attended the picket, calling on McLaren to do what’s best for its employees and patients, bringing widespread media coverage to the situation.
“We were broken before the pandemic. The pandemic just amplified the problem,” says Dawn Chapel, PACU RN and bargaining team member. “Being chosen to be part of this amazing negotiating team was an honor. My intent was to ‘make things better’ for us and the new RNs coming. I want people to love nursing as much as I do. I believed we could make a difference. We did.” That being said, Chapel acknowledges there remains work to be done. “Things are still broken, but what we have achieved together gives us a pathway toward fixing the system. Our hope is to find joy in our work again, by making sure nurses’ voices are heard in the hospital. Together we can create the change. I believe that. We will continue to work for change. This is just a start.”