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1,800 union workers at Mercy Health Muskegon voting on possible picket

Hospital and SEIU leaders were involved in "heavy bargaining" Tuesday as union workers vote to begin possible picket outside Mercy Health Muskegon.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Trinity Health and the union representing Mercy Health Muskegon healthcare workers have yet to reach a contract agreement. The end-of-January deadline was set by the union in January, calling on the hospital's parent company to finish negotiations.

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.

"It's a vote to do whatever the next step is necessary to make sure that Mercy understands that we're very serious about this," said nurse Mike Jura. "We're hopeful things will start moving forward. We've been waiting a long time."

According to an SEIU spokesperson, the member action vote was moving ahead as planned with members able to vote on the possible picket until Friday. The union spokesperson tells 13 ON YOUR SIDE the vote is happening just as the union and hospital leaders are "back in heavy bargaining."

According to a statement from Mercy Health Muskegon, the RNs, Tech and Support units have been represented by SEIU for years and the two sides have always reached agreements.

The two sides have been exchanging bargaining proposals for a new contract since February 2021.

The statement from Mercy Health Muskegon goes on to say:

"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. We have offered retention bonuses and sign-on bonuses, which the union membership recently voted down. Mercy Health Muskegon is currently providing critical staffing pay to many classifications of workers.

We very much value our colleagues, and want nothing more than to reach a mutual agreement. We have been dedicating our time and energy into creating something that is fair for our colleagues and the organization. We have been able to do so in the past, and see no reason we will not reach agreements with the union."

Jura wasn't part of the negotiations Tuesday but he's hopeful he and other workers will soon have a new contract offer from the hospital to vote on and talks about picketing will end. 

"There was a message sent that Mercy is willing to get the ball rolling and actually make some progress," Jura said. "It's vague about what that means and how quickly that will happen. We've lost such good staff members and we continue to loose them the longer this drags out. We just need to get it done."

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