MUSKEGON, Mich — Union workers at Mercy Health Muskegon have voted 'yes' to authorize a picket outside of the hospital.
The vote comes after Trinity Health and the union representing Mercy Health Muskegon healthcare workers failed to reach a contract agreement by a end-of-January deadline.
On Tuesday, Feb. 1 around 1,800 members of the Service Employees International Union began voting on a possible picket that if approved by members would take place outside Mercy Health Muskegon.
On Monday, Feb. 7, the union announced the result of the vote, stating that the workers “overwhelmingly voted in favor to authorize a picket.”
Sherrie Samp has been a medical technologist at Mercy Health for 30 years. In a release Monday, she stated the following:
“We were overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from members who braved the global pandemic and the freezing temperatures to vote in high numbers. This near-unanimous vote is extremely rare, and it demonstrates that Mercy workers are united and ready to take action. What happens next depends on whether Trinity agrees to a fair contract that will address the staffing crisis at Mercy and allow us to take care of our patients and our community. We need competitive wages, safe staffing, and better working conditions. We are united together to do whatever is necessary to attract and retain staff at our hospital so that we provide the highest quality of care.”
Negotiations will continue throughout the week, and members of the union say what happens next will depend on how those negotiations progress.
"We've been waiting so long for things to be settled," said Mercy Health Muskegon RN Amanda Martinez. "I've been there for almost two-years and there's not been a contract in place since I started."
Martinez tells 13 ON YOUR SIDE workers believe if they remain silent nothing will change, and months from now they'll still be working with an expired contract.
"It will be another day, another week, another month, another year," Martinez said. "We want a hospital that works for the community and the only way to do that is to get this contract finalized, and to have a competitive market to bring nurses, aids, and service workers the hospital."
In a release Monday, Mercy Health Muskegon said the following:
"Mercy Health Muskegon very much values our colleagues represented by SEIU, and we are looking forward to coming to a mutual agreement as soon as possible. We are encouraged to see the negotiating teams increase the pace with multiple meetings last week. We have seven additional bargaining dates scheduled and we remain hopeful more progress will be made this week and next."
"Completing these contracts and taking care of our colleagues is a priority. Mercy Health Muskegon has been able to reach a fair and mutual agreement with the Union in the past and see no reason we will not reach agreements this time."