UPDATE: Nurses' picket canceled at OSF St. Francis Hospital as tentative agreement reached

ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE: 5:53 p.m. June 26

Just before the TV6 Early News, TV6 & FOX UP received word the nurses and OSF ST. Francis Hospital have reached a tentative agreement.

A press release from the Michigan Nurses Association said nurses represented by the Michigan Nurses Association and the administration of OSF St. Francis Hospital have reached a three-year tentative agreement that includes provisions to recruit and retain experienced nurses.

“We care about this hospital and we care about our patients,” said Sara Kofsky, RN and president of the Professional Nurses Council of St. Francis Hospital, the local MNA union at Escanaba. “We feel like this is a fair agreement that will benefit nurses, patients, and our whole community.”

“We want to thank our friends, neighbors, and local businesses for supporting us throughout this process,” said Lyndsey Rogers, RN. “Together, we have made sure that patients come first.”

Further details of the agreement will be presented directly to members and later shared more broadly. The tentative agreement becomes final if nurses vote to ratify the proposed contract. A ratification vote has been scheduled for July 9.

Due to reaching a tentative agreement, Thursday’s scheduled informational picket will no longer occur.

OSF representatives were pleased with the tentative agreement as well.

“We are pleased that OSF St. Francis Hospital and the MNA have concluded negotiations on a contract that will ensure our nurses’ compensation is very competitive among all hospitals in the Upper Peninsula, and will further enhance our ability to recruit and retain dedicated and compassionate nurses who provide excellent care to the patients we have the privilege to serve,” said Lacey Crabb, vice president, chief nursing officer of patient care services at OSF St. Francis.

There are more than 130 nurses who work at OSF St. Francis Hospital.

Nurses at OSF St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba are holding an informational picket on Thursday regarding negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The picket will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. outside of the hospital and will not affect the flow of traffic, the entrances to the hospital, or patient care.

"We've been negotiating and we've had some sticking points to our contract. We're trying to ensure that the hospital can retain and recruit experienced, qualified nurses for safe, efficient patient care here at St. Francis and we've been running into some bumps with that,” said OSF Registered Nurse and President of the local Michigan Nurses Association (MNA), Sara Kofsky.

One of the things nurses are advocating for is higher wages. Kofsky says St. Francis is one of the lowest-paid hospitals in the U.P.

However, the hospital said in part in their official statement on the matter that: "The hospital has offered wage increases to registered nurses, on average, of 15 percent during the term of a new three-year contract in an effort to recruit and retain highly qualified registered nurses.”

Another big negotiation item has been the requirement for nurses hired after May 1, 2016, to receive their bachelor's degree in nursing within six years of getting hired. Kofsky says this requirement has potential to push away experienced nurses that could be interested in working at OSF St. Francis.

"The nurses here at the hospital, and all nurses, in fact, understand the significance and importance of education. We also, as nurses, understand that one of the most important things we can have in a nurse is experience,” Kofsky said.

The hospital backed the education requirement in the official statement, saying: "...OSF Healthcare believes this evidence-based policy serves as a best practice for optimal patient care.”

Kofsky says that the nurses have already seen support from the community. She encourages community members to join the picket.

Nurses and community members will meet in the Shopko parking lot at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, where they will then walk to the hospital.

The hospital’s full statement can be found in the “related documents” section of this article.

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