McLaren Macomb nurses cancel strike, agree to new labor contract

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

McLaren Macomb's nursing union canceled its previously scheduled strike over work conditions Saturday after reaching a new labor contract with hospital officials.

The hospital and the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 40, a union representing 550 nurses, agreed to a three-year labor contract, four days ahead of the union's previously planned strike.

The union and hospital said in a joint statement that the agreement came Saturday following extensive negotiations.

On July 19, the union gave a 10-day notice that it will strike on Wednesday if the hospital didn't agree to improve nurses' working conditions.

Officials with OPEIU Local 40 said that more than 8 out of 10 registered nurses at McLaren Macomb voted to authorize a walkout. The union's contract with the hospital would have expired Tuesday. Negotiations for a new contract began in February.

OPEIU Local 40 President Jeffrey Morawski previously said talks were stalled by the Mount Clemens hospital's "failure to resolve significant patient safety and nursing morale issues."

Morawski, a nurse at the 228-bed hospital, said most of the problems are caused by a shortage of nurses and the ancillary workers, like nursing assistants, who support them. He said the hospital is supposed to have 600 nurses, but is currently about 70 short of that number.

McLaren Macomb officials previously expressed their disappointment in the vote to strike and said the union has used unfair labor practices to stall negotiations and influence the nurses for leverage at the bargaining table.

"The timing of this vote coincides with the difficult time that all hospitals have had recruiting and retaining nurses during the pandemic and is not a coincidence," hospital officials wrote.

Details of the new contract were not disclosed, but the hospital previously said it offered a $2,000 nurse appreciation and ratification bonus, a 15.5% wage increase to retain and attract quality nurses, and plans to increase staffing levels and add more nursing support when needed.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_