Mercy Health responds to contract delay as nurses await informational meetings

TOLEDO (WTVG) - Mercy Health and the nurses union reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday, ending the strike that has lasted more than a month, but nurses won't be able to vote on their new contracts until after they've had the chance to see that new deal. Now, the healthcare provider is responding to that delay.

In a statement released to the media on Thursday, Mercy Health said, "Mercy Health remains disappointed that our nursing team is not able to vote on the contract as soon as possible. While we are pleased to be welcoming back our nurses, this action by the UAW delays a long-awaited pay increase, and other benefits, by yet another week."

The union agreed to end the strike and "made an unconditional offer to return to work on behalf of all former strikers" on Wednesday afternoon. A ratification vote is still needed on the agreement and nurses will have a chance to view the terms of that agreement in two meetings of the union on Saturday.

"We are so excited about this. This is all we wanted all along," said Pamela Minnich. "We didn't want to come out here in the beginning. We are really grateful they were able to come to this point"

"I don't think Sue would have brought it to a vote if it wasn't work us voting on. Sue knows what the nurses have been wanting," RN Barb Mazur said. "We wanted reduced on call hours especially for our nurses who are working in surgery and dialysis and she's been chomping at the bit to get that done for us."

The announcement was made by the UAW on Wednesday afternoon, saying the deal "addresses many of the nurses' major concerns, including quality-of-life issues."

But according to Mercy Health, the UAW will recommend that the nurses vote to ratify the previous proposal.

The Mercy Health's original Wednesday statement is printed in full below:

St. Vincent Medical Center and Children’s Hospital is pleased to learn that the UAW and Local 2213 have ended the strike and have made an unconditional offer to return to work. We are looking forward to welcoming back our nurses and moving forward together in the care of our community.

We understand that our UAW-represented associates in the RN Unit will be voting on the proposed contract on Thursday and Friday. Mercy Health is pleased to learn that the UAW will recommend that the nurses vote to ratify our previous proposal.

If ratified, Mercy Health will be able to implement our previous proposal, which offered:
• Increased wages, plus additional market adjustment for eligible nurses;
• Increases in tuition reimbursement and the student loan-forgiveness program;
• Access to incentives through an employee reward (bonus) program; and
• Increases in weekend premium, shift differential and multiple location premiums.

We understand this has been a challenging time for the entire community, and we look forward in coming together to fulfill our Mission and continue to serve those in need while providing high quality and compassionate care -- as we have for 163 years. We are currently coordinating the schedule and reengagement process for nurses to return to work. We welcome those associates rejoining the many who have already returned to work and together - we will continue to care for our patients, their families and our community.

UAW spokeswoman Sandy Theis responded to Mercy Health's statement by saying, "The tentative agreement includes important improvements from the previous proposal but we do not want to get into details until our membership has been fully briefed."

Mercy Health's Thursday response is included here:

On Wednesday, Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center and Children’s Hospital received notice from the UAW that the strike had ended and that the Union was making an unconditional return to work. This notice was received simultaneously to the UAW releasing this information publicly. Mercy Health was further informed that the UAW would hold educational meetings and a ratification vote on Thursday and Friday. This is the information that Mercy Health provided to the public.

Late Wednesday, the UAW informed Mercy Health that there would be no ratification vote this week but instead the vote would likely occur on Monday or Tuesday. This contradicted what Mercy Health had previously been told and shared with the public.

Mercy Health believes that the RN Unit has received a fair proposal and looks forward to our UAW-represented associates having the opportunity to vote. Mercy Health remains disappointed that our nursing team is not able to vote on the contract as soon as possible. While we are pleased to be welcoming back our nurses, this action by the UAW delays a long-awaited pay increase, and other benefits, by yet another week.

St. Vincent Medical Center and Children’s Hospital is pleased to be welcoming back all associates as of today to care for our patients. Together with approximate 1,100 associates from our Service and Technical Units who returned to work more than a week ago, our team is ready to continue providing the highest quality and most compassionate care to our community.

13abc has reached out to the nurses' union for further comment.