Edit: This story was updated to include a more recent statement from McLaren Bay Region President and CEO Darrell Lentz regarding the informational picket and support workers.
Health care workers at McLaren Bay Region Hospital in Bay City are becoming fed up with contract negotiations they say are going nowhere.
Auxiliary workers held a rally Wednesday near the hospital to make the public aware of issues they claim to be facing at the hospital, including staffing shortages, safe patient to health care worker ratios, and fair and competitive wages. According to Unite Here Local 24, the local nurse’s union, their contract was up in February and negotiations have been ongoing since then, though they claim the hospital has not provided them anything they’ve asked for.
According to the Michigan Nurse’s Association, patient death from having too few nurses has risen from 22 percent in 2016 to 42 percent in 2023. They say patient safety should be the number one priority.
A statement released by McLaren Bay Region President and CEO Darrell Lentz reads:
McLaren Bay Region is currently negotiating its service unit employee contract with UNITE HERE Local 24, which represents approximately 300 support staff who work at our hospital. Our goal is to establish a contract that is beneficial to both parties, and we are committed to that outcome. As negotiations continue, our hospital leadership and physicians remain focused on outstanding patient care and services, and the bargaining process has not compromised that focus. However, the service union has chosen to conduct an informational picket, which is within their rights, but does not impact the outcome of negotiations.
McLaren Bay Region has earned recognition for quality patient care. It is typical for unions to engage in such activities to try to pressure the employer at negotiations. These tactics are not often successful. The current union activities will not distract our team from its continued dedication to high-quality patient care.
We are hopeful that we will reach a mutually agreeable contract in the very near future. Until that time, our focus will continue to be serving the patients who come to our hospital and entrust us with their care.
So far this year, unionized healthcare workers with McLaren Lapeer Region, McLaren Central in Mount Pleasant and MyMichigan Medical Center in Alma have voted to authorize strikes before those hospitals conceded to improved contracts.