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Beaumont workers rally, call for higher wages

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Lauren Janes
/
Michigan Radio

Health care workers from three Beaumont hospitals rallied on Wednesday, calling for higher wages and better staffing. Signs read "Put our patients before exec pay."

The SEIU Healthcare union organized the rally. Workers and community members chanted, "If we don't get it, shut it down!"

Workers from Beaumont's hospitals in Taylor, Trenton, and Wayne say the hospitals are understaffed. They say that's straining workers and affecting the quality of care for patients.

Mike Graham is a nurse aid at Beaumont hospital in Taylor. 

"We're short handed so much I have to pick up a ton of overtime just to help out the other units, which affects our daily lives," he says. "We want to be home with our families too, just like the big-wigs here at Beaumont. We want them to understand that we care a lot about our patients, so we want them to care about us."

The health care workers' union and Beaumont Health have been renegotiating their contract for more than a year. But the workers say they decided to protest because they say negotiations are not going well.

"Come back with a fair contract, let's get this over, so we can start worry more about the patients and less about this," Graham says.

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Credit Lauren Janes / Michigan Radio
Workers and community members at the rally. Steve Prwakiewicz, Robert Hoon, Jerry Watson, and Ken Pryce.

Union officials say Beaumont could pay fair wages and is choosing not to.

State Senator Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) was at the event with State Representatives Alex Garza (D-Taylor) and Kevin Coleman (D-Westland). Geiss says workers are the backbone of any large institution.

"These are hard working people, who deserve to be recognized and treated with respect and with dignity. And that includes making sure that they can collectively bargain, it includes making sure that they have decent pay; that they earn living wages. These are the people that are taking care of our loved ones, and we need to respect that and we're here to fight for them, and fight beside them," Geiss says. 

In a statement, Beaumont Health says:

Beaumont Health has been meeting with SEIU for more than a year, bargaining in good faith, with the goal of reaching a mutually agreeable labor contract. We have met with multiple SEIU negotiators in more than 24 sessions. We remain committed to continuing to bargain in good faith with the union and are looking forward to coming to an agreement for our valued employees. Executive compensation is unrelated to this negotiation process. Beaumont is recognized as one of Michigan’s and the nation’s best for excellent and compassionate patient care. We also are committed to being a workplace of choice, in part by providing employees with comprehensive, market-competitive compensation and benefits.

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