Sparrow, Nurses To Negotiate Monday (UPDATED)

Thursday night the two sides seemed miles apart.

Nurses were accusing the hospital of coercing the rank and file to sign on to a new deal.

The hospital was accusing the nurses national union of using the local workers as pawns in a grand strike scheme.

They couldn't even agree on if there was a negotiating session Friday. News 10 was told by the hospital that negotiations would resume Friday morning at 10 a.m. It never happened.

"When we saw it in the paper it was the first we'd heard of it," said Ann Simcox of the Michigan Nurses Association.

However, Simcox said the two parties will in fact meet Monday.

The main sticking points according to the union, are the hospital's need for health care and pension concessions. The hospital thinks its final offer was more than fair.

"If Sparrow management continues with what they have shown us over the last two days, there won't be any kind of agreement before the 10-day notice is up," said Jeff Breslin, head of the Michigan Nurses Association.

While the good news is negotiating is going on, the relationship is strained. Nurses say the rank-and-file are being strong armed and scared into getting behind the hospital's offer.

"We have documents and those documents have their name on it," says Breslin. "They say if you strike for this amount of days, it will cost you this amount of money and you may not be able to come back."

The hospital admits to handing out informational fliers, but no one is being intimidated.

"I don't think that factual information is ever intimidating and I'm disappointed that anyone would think that," said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, spokeswoman for Sparrow.

The hospital is more concerned with the nurses national union affiliation-- National Nurses United. The hospital believes they're hard-line tactics, evidenced by strikes around the country, are the reason for the current stalemate.

"30 strikes in seven states in the last six months-- Sparrow is just part of the game," said Rossman-McKinney.

We'll find out if they can hammer out the differences on November 21-- the day the nurses will strike if there's no deal.

If there is a strike, Sparrow will bring in nurses from an agency at a much higher cost than the current staff. The hospital calls them "highly-qualified" while the union calls them "scabs."

The strike would start November 22nd at 7 a.m. and last two days.


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