Dozens of people marched in Traverse City Thursday night in support of nurses at Munson Medical Center. The nurses are bargaining with hospital management for their first labor contract.
Nurses and their supporters marched along Division Street wearing red T-shirts and waving signs with slogans like “Patients Over Profits” and “Safe Staffing Saves Lives.”
The Michigan Nurses Association is arguing for better pay and new standards for overtime hours and staffing levels.
Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers spoke at the march. He says what happens at Munson affects the entire city.
“I’m happy that they’re one of our major employers but we just want to have them work with us to give a fair contract to our nurses," says Carruthers. "Because they’re the ones that are at our bedside when we’re at the hospital. They’re the ones that are talking care of us.”
Last month, the union filed a lawsuit, saying the hospital is not negotiating in good faith.
Jennifer Standfest is Director of Nursing and Professional Development at Munson. She says that despite the lawsuit, labor tension has not affected hospital operations.
“We’re still here to provide care to the community, and that’s the most important thing," says Standfest. "We know how important we are to the community. We know how important we are to the patients. Our commitment is unwavering on that.”
Standfest says negotiations are progressing slowly.
The next bargaining session is scheduled to begin Monday.