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After months of talks, Munson nurses agree to three-year contract

Taylor Wizner
Munson Medical Center in Traverse City serves Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties. (Photo: Taylor Wizner)

Registered nurses with Munson Medical Center have agreed to a new three-year contract after four months of negotiation.

Eight hundred registered nurses are represented in the new deal, which was approved by 95% of those who voted. The deal was put into place Friday night after two days of voting among members of the Michigan Nurses Association.

Labor and delivery nurse Angie Sheffer served on the bargaining committee. Sheffer said they focused on staff and patient safety.

“But also recruiting and retaining nurses. How to attract nurses back to northern Michigan, back to the medical center, and how do we retain our experienced staff?" she told IPR.

Sheffer said staffing levels have dropped since the pandemic, making work more challenging for those who remained — including higher patient ratios and "heavier assignments, which affect the quality of care."

The deal with the Michigan Nurses Association includes wage increases of nearly 16 percent over three years. The most experienced nurses will make over $50 an hour by the third year of the contract in addition to retention bonuses.

The deal also creates a staffing committee that includes nurses, in order to set safer guidelines that the hospital must follow.

In a statement, Munson Medical Center officials said they will continue to create a more attractive and safer work environment for their entire healthcare team. Other incentives in the deal include more growth opportunities, tuition reimbursement and wellness resources.

Healthcare staffing shortages are not unique to northern Michigan. A recent bill passed by the state includes $75 million to address a healthcare worker shortage across the state.

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Tyler Thompson is a reporter at Interlochen Public Radio.