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UPHS to Marquette Nurses – “Don’t Come Back Until Tuesday”

Nurses walking the picket lines at UP Health System-Marquette have been told their services won’t be needed by the hospital until Tuesday.

The two-day strike by the nurses union was scheduled to end this morning at 6:59. Nurses have been protesting staffing levels which they say are too low, and put patients in danger.

Hospital management brought in temporary staff to fill in, but had to make a five-day commitment to those nurses. They say the temps will stay on the job for the full five days, and regular staff will be welcome to return on Tuesday.

The hospital denies that it’s locking the nurses out, and says it told the union in advance that this would happen. Here is the statement from management:

“UPHS-Marquette has been made aware of rumors regarding a “lock-out” at the hospital. This is inaccurate, and we would like to clarify with the community.

A ‘lock-out’ is a situation that occurs when an employer takes preemptive action to prevent employees from working. This is not happening at UPHS – Marquette.

As previously shared, we retained a nationally respected staffing agency to secure highly qualified replacement nurses during the MNA’s declared two-day work stoppage. A minimum commitment of five days is required to secure this level of nursing coverage, which therefore means we expect to be fully staffed with replacement nurses Saturday, Sunday and Monday – Oct. 7, 8, and 9. After these dates, our regular nursing staff will be back at work as usual.

We have made numerous efforts to notify our nurses that we may be fully staffed on these dates both prior to the work stoppage and since its commencement Thursday morning, and we will continue to do so until staffing returns to normal following the work stoppage.

We want our team back at work and will be happy when they return. In the meantime, we will continue to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of the high quality, safe and compassionate care that our patients and community members expect and deserve.”

As of Friday evening, the regular nurses said they were planning to show up for their Saturday shifts. Here is the statement from Scott Balko, Operating Room RN and President of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA:

“No one knows our patients or our community as well as Marquette nurses. From the beginning RNs and community members have called on Duke LifePoint to invest in full-time permanent safe staffing levels.

Consistent with correspondence received by nurses from Duke LifePoint, nurses will be prepared to return to work on Saturday at the conclusion of the strike.

Nurses thank everyone who turned out to the picket line or otherwise showed solidarity. We have felt so much support from our town, the UP, and across the state during the last forty-eight hours. The strength that our neighbors lent us will be used to continue to advocate for patients over hospital profits.”

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