LANSING -- After weeks of threats and back-and-forth accusations of dishonesty, Sparrow Hospital and 2,100 of its health professionals have reached a tentative agreement.
"We are excited, relieved, thankful," nurse Marcie Scranton told News 10 Friday.
The sides involved felt the same way. "A sense of satisfaction that a very, very important job had finally come to fruition," said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, spokeswoman for Sparrow.
And the mood Friday between hospital management and the Michigan Nurses Association was decidedly less hostile, with talk of handshakes and respect.
"When we ended up finishing last night, there was a sense of mutual respect at the table," said Jeff Breslin, president of the MNA.
It was a surprising about-face after the union issued a strike notice to the hospital Tuesday, followed shortly thereafter by the threat of a lockout from management.
But in the late hours Thursday night, the two sides struck a deal, offering, with Sparrow offering higher staffing levels, better wage increases and changes to the health and retirement plans.
"It is what I believe everyone would consider a benchmark agreement," Rossman-McKinney said. "It is a generous offer."
Breslin expressed a similar satisfaction, saying, "It is one that we will take back to membership and unanimously recommend for ratification."
And now we wait for the union to schedule a vote -- likely to happen within the next two weeks. Both Sparrow and the MNA say they are confident it will be ratified.
In the meantime, the nurses and other health professionals involved will go to work Monday under the terms of the old contract, happy to stay with that they say is most important.
"Our patients," Scranton said. "They're most important."