Nurses hand out posters to downtown Marquette businesses

Published: Oct. 9, 2017 at 5:23 PM EDT
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Posters supporting the nurses of UP Health System-Marquette appeared in shop windows throughout downtown Marquette Monday.

The strike ended Saturday morning, but the replacement nurses were still on duty Monday.

Monday was the fifth day temporary nurses cared for patients at UPHS-Marquette in place of normal staff, three days after their strike ended.

"We want to get back to work and that's just what we're doing, I'm in my blue scrubs, I showed up at work this morning even and I was again told there was no work for me today," UPHS-Marquette nurse Greg Kerwin said.

Nursing staff went on strike for 48 hours last Thursday morning protesting what they call unsafe working conditions and the lack of a contract.

UPHS clarified in a statement Friday, this is not a lock out, saying:

"UPHS - Marquette has been made aware of rumors regarding a "lock-out" at the hospital. This is inaccurate, and we would like to clarify with the community.

A "lock-out" is a situation that occurs when an employer takes preemptive action to prevent employees from working. This is not happening at UPHS – Marquette.

As previously shared, we retained a nationally respected staffing agency to secure highly qualified replacement nurses during the MNA's declared two-day work stoppage. A minimum commitment of five days is required to secure this level of nursing coverage, which therefore means we expect to be fully staffed with replacement nurses Saturday, Sunday and Monday – Oct. 7, 8, and 9. After these dates, our regular nursing staff will be back at work as usual.

We have made numerous efforts to notify our nurses that we may be fully staffed on these dates both prior to the work stoppage and since its commencement Thursday morning, and we will continue to do so until staffing returns to normal following the work stoppage.

We want our team back at work and will be happy when they return. In the meantime, we will continue to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of the high quality, safe and compassionate care that our patients and community members expect and deserve."

The nurses union asked business owners in downtown Marquette Monday morning to display posters in their windows in favor of their cause.

"We're just so grateful for the community support, we're going to be out there and we're going to be handing out these signs and people are putting them in their windows, it's pretty cool," Kerwin said.

Marquette businesses with the signs in their front windows say they support the nurses for many reasons.

"Well the nurses came by and asked, and I'm from a family of nurses and I support nurses and great health care," Wood Jewelers owner Robert Wood said.

"We're in favor of supporting the nurses here in Marquette and appreciate everything they do for the community," Coachlight Restaurant owner Mark Scott said.

"I think it's really important that our community comes together to support them and helping them get what they want and what our community deserves," Flying Moose employee Anja Wiedenhoefer said.

"It's very important for the community to stand behind our nurses and the people who will potentially take care of us and our families when we have bad days," Sports Rack employee Jim Bedore said.

According to the hospital, normal Duke LifePoint nursing staff is expected to resume their duties Tuesday.