Sparrow leaders call on Union to return to bargaining table

LANSING, Mich. - Sparrow leaders expressed disappointment that leaders of its nurses and professional staff employee union refused a generous new contract proposal, prompting a federal mediator to call an end to negotiations today.

Sparrow called on the California-based National Nurses United and its affiliate, the Michigan Nurses Association, to return to the bargaining table in an effort to continue to reach common ground and avoid a strike. A strike will not benefit Patients, the hospital or the community, Sparrow officials said.

Sparrow is especially disappointed that union leaders would reject its latest contract offer at a time when the hospital's own patient base has experienced lay-offs, mandatory furlough days (city of Lansing employees), reduced pension benefits and record-level unemployment.

"In a period of economic uncertainty, Sparrow has proposed an agreement that provides benchmark wages, benefits and staffing levels to its RNs and other professional Associates," said Sparrow spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney.

Sparrow made a number of changes in its latest offer. Among them:

  • The updated proposal ensures salary improvements for all MNA-represented staff. Under the new proposal offered by Sparrow on Monday, all nurses represented by the MNA would receive a salary increase of 10% to 13% during the course of the three-year contract.
  • Guarantees for significant increases in staffing.
  • Sparrow proposes to decrease overall health insurance premium increases, which will go from 6% of the total monthly premium in the current contract to 8% of the total health premium in 2011 and then only to 10% in 2012 and 2013.
  • Associates who are currently 60 years of age, would be fully vested in their retirement plan and who retire on or before Dec. 31, 2015 will not be affected by any of the proposed changes to the current defined benefit retirement plan.

Sparrow is fully prepared if a strike should occur on Nov. 22. The start time for the strike is 7 a.m.

The hospital has retained two temporary staffing agencies to provide highly trained and quality nursing and professional staff.

Patients who currently have procedures scheduled at Sparrow should continue to keep their appointments. It is business as usual at Sparrow.