Sparrow nurses picketing over working conditions

For months, the nurse’s union has been negotiating a better contract with Sparrow, which expired over the weekend.
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 9:19 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The nurse’s union wants better wages, better benefits and for Sparrow to retain and recruit more staff. Sparrow says they are trying to meet those needs.

What happened here Wednesday wasn’t a strike, and Sparrow said they will do anything in their power to prevent a strike from happening.

Alan Vierling, President of Sparrow, said, “We’re going to do everything we can to prevent that. We’ve been at the table 19 times and we’ll go back 19 more and continue to engage and [a strike is] obviously not in anybody’s interest.”

For months, the nurse’s union has been negotiating a better contract with Sparrow, which expired over the weekend. The union is asking for better wages and healthcare benefits.

LJ Knight is a registered nurse at Sparrow Hospital.

“We want one that’s above the cost-of-living expense, and just to have better health insurance for our care providers,” Knight said.

“The proposal we put forth on Friday did offer a 4% general increase in wages for the first year, 12% over the life of the contract,” said Amy Brown, Chief Nursing Officer for Sparrow Hospital. “Our benefit package did go up slightly only because the overall cost of healthcare did go up.”

The biggest problem lies with staffing shortages.

Knight works in Sparrow’s emergency department. He says the staff is severely overworked as they battle a nursing shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The union is looking to negotiate more help into their new contract.

“We try to keep a positive mindset, but everyday in there it feels like a war zone,” Knight said. “There is no time for a break, even going to go to the bathroom sometimes feels impossible.”

Brown said, “If you picked up one additional shift, if you’re part-time or full-time, you’ll receive a $10 thousand bonus after 8 weeks. We’ve tried to do a lot of different things to help with staffing we’ve also tried to compensate people very well because they’ve done a really good job.”

Both the union and Sparrow told News 10 Wednesday’s picketing and the ongoing negotiations do not affect the care provided to patients. There is no deadline for when a new contract could be signed.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to our News 10 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning.