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Kalamazoo nurses who were poised to strike reach a tentative deal on their next contract

Person in maroon scrubs walking on sidewalk outside of Ascension Borgess Hospital on an overcast November day
Leona Larson
Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo

If members of the Michigan Nurses Association approve the contract, it will cover 300 nurses at Ascension Borgess Hospital, the union said in a statement.

Nurses at Ascension Borgess Hospital overwhelmingly voted "yes" this week on allowing their bargaining team to call a strike. Now it looks as though a deal with the hospital will keep them off the picket lines.

“By standing together, we sent a clear message to Ascension that a strong contract that protects patients by recruiting and retaining nurses is vital to our community,” Lori Batzloff, president of the MNA's local bargaining unit said in a statement Friday evening.

“Now it’s time for the membership to review the tentative agreement. I plan to vote in favor of the deal and encourage other nurses to do the same," she added.

The MNA said the new deal includes average raises of 20.5 percent in the first year, one additional "emergency personal day" for nurses, a $1-per-hour increase in "shift differentials for evening and night nurses," which the union said was a "100 percent increase for evening nurses," and increasing pay for on-call nurses to $5 an hour.

The MNA said Borgess had already dropped proposals before the latest round of bargaining, for nurses to work every other weekend and for all "contractually guaranteed leaves" to be discontinued.

Borgess had defended its previous offers as fair and competitive.

According to the union, 86 percent of voting members supported authorizing a strike in a vote held Monday and Tuesday. If the bargaining team had then called for a strike, the hospital would have received 10 days' notice before the nurses walked out.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.