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U of M nurses ratify three year contract

The University of Michigan Health System
The University of Michigan
The University of Michigan Health System.

Nurses represented by the University of Michigan Professional Nurses Council have overwhelmingly ratified a three year contract with the U of M's medical center.

Both university and union officials praised the agreement for its commitment to patient safety and high quality care.

The old contract had expired at the end of June, and the new agreement comes after claims of unfair labor practices and a threatened strike.

"Because of the unity of our 5,700 members, we were able to get a good strong, patient-centered contract," said Desiree Conyers, a U of M registered nurse and a member of the bargaining committee.

She said the new contract includes enforceable safe staffing language and representation of nurses on workplace committees.

"We want to make sure that we're able to maintain world class nursing care for our patients, and we want the guarantees in writing," said Conyers. "And we were able to get this language."

The agreement also addresses nurses' concerns over the Victors Care program. The program offers concierge medicine at a price tag of $3,600 extra per year. According to union officials, under the new agreement, any revenues from Victors Care will be used to provide health care to socio-economically disadvantaged patients.

"And we as nurses now could refuse concierge assignment, which gives us important tools to prevent a two tier system in terms of access to care for our patients," said Conyers.

The agreement also provides for pay increases for nurses, reductions in mandatory overtime, and maintenance of current health insurance and retirement benefits.

"Our top priority is to ensure our patients receive the highest quality of care. Our nurses are critical to that goal, and this contract reflects our interest in moving forward together," said David Spahlinger, M.D., president of the University of Michigan Health System, in a written statement. "We believe this agreement will help us retain and recruit excellent nurses."

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