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Ascension Borgess Hospital will resume contract talks with its nurses

Person in scrubs walking on sidewalk outside of Ascension Borgess Hospital on an overcast November day.
Leona Larson
Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, November 16th, 2022.

The parties will be back at the negotiation table December 1st.

The Michigan Nurses’ Association says members have been working without a contract since Friday after bargaining stalled. Nurses and supporters took to the streets to rally over the weekend.  

Registered nurse Dana DeKoekkoek says staffing levels have dropped dramatically over the last few years, which she blamed on uncompetitive wages. She said Borgess has lost about a third of its nursing staff.

“We've seen our, you know, the number of RNs at Ascension Borgess go down from over 600 to now at right at 400, or just under,” said DeKoekkoek.

DeKoekkoek said lots of nurses are leaving Borgess to go to other regional hospitals with better pay. While a raise would be nice, she said, she's more concerned about short-staffing.

“It's not mainly about compensation for us. It’s to get more nurses to help us out”, DeKoekkoek said.

Ascension Borgess spokesman Chris Hunt did not respond to a request to confirm Borgess' staffing levels and whether they have declined. In an email, he said Borgess is offering nurses a nearly 20 percent raise in the first year of their next contract, with additional increases for the two years after that.

DeKoekkoek said the hospital’s offer isn’t competitive enough because Borgess isn’t offering cost-of-living adjustments for those last two years.

”They’re talking about taking away more than they really are giving if you look at the wages in the area, you know, and we need to be competitive to get nurses,” said DeKoekkoek.

DeKoekkoek said that all options, including a strike, are on the table but she hopes it doesn’t come to that.