“Bargaining in Good Faith” the Borgess Way

If you’re new to the Borgess RNs fight for a fair contract, here’s the story:

Since January, the RNs of Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo have been locked in a contentious contract battle. At the heart of the issue – management wants to take 59 pages of the nurses’ contract that covers nursing practice protections such as hours of work, PTO scheduling, available hours and more and turn them into policies which management will control. The nurses have signed a petition, twice, with the majority stating that they do not want this to happen. Borgess management is refusing to move on their proposal even with an Unfair Labor Practice charge listing 32 violations hanging over their head. The Hospital has threatened to lock out the nurses at least three different times.

The Hospital sat through 13 separate bargaining sessions and refused to talk about their proposal to remove the 59 pages. They wouldn’t talk about each nursing protection by itself, they wouldn’t talk about in groups, they wouldn’t talk about it, period. It was the quintessential example of the phrase “take it or leave it.”

Recently Borgess published information on its intranet regarding the upcoming findings of the National Labor Relations Board. They shared some truths about procedure and then went off on an interesting tangent.

First, they said, “If the NLRB issues a complaint, we expect the MNA-NNU to declare in the media and to our nurses and staff that Borgess has been found guilty of illegal activity.” No, we wouldn’t because a complaint is not the same as a decision by a judge so we wouldn’t use the term “guilty.” Then, Borgess management continues, “Hopefully, you will tell your family, friends and neighbors the truth. Hopefully, our community will recognize that this is one more baseless claim by a union intent on doing anything it can to harm our hospital.”

This is an amazing statement. Suppose the NLRB decides there is enough evidence against Borgess to hold a hearing, and a complaint is issued. Are all the Borgess RNs supposed to lie to the community and say it’s a “baseless claim” when it’s not?  How can that be telling the truth? 

But that’s not the end of the amazing statements. Borgess has long accused MNA of disparaging the Hospital through TV advertising and other public events. “Borgess will not change its position because of an (NLRB) complaint any more than it will change its position because of the MNA-NNU’s campaign of dispargement . . . Borgess believes in the importance of the changes it seeks, and it has been open, honest and transparent in its communications with the MNA-NNU and with the RNs throughout the negotiation process.”

Well, I guess that’s true. They’ve said, “Here’s our offer” and we’ve said, “No, we need to negotiate on this” and they’ve said, “No.” That’s pretty honest. “We want it all and we’ll do what it takes to make that happen, including scaring you all with threats of lockouts, one-on-one meetings, and more.” I guess you can’t get more transparent than that.

Do you think this was what the NLRB had in mind for effective collective bargaining?

This week, we’re collecting letters of support for the Borgess nurses. Here’s some sample copy below:

Paul Spaude, FACHE
President and Chief Executive Officer
Borgess Medical Center

I am writing to show my support of the Borgess Medical Center registered nurses in their fight for safe patient care and a fair contract. Please begin to negotiate in good faith.


You can cut and paste the above into a Word document, sign it and fax/mail/email it to:

Ann Sincox
Michigan Nurses Association
2310 Jolly Oak Road
Okemos, MI 48864
517.349.5818 fax

We want hundreds of letters from everywhere. Feel free to add your own comments! Please send in your letter by Friday, June 25. Your help is greatly appreciated!

For more information on the Borgess nurses contract struggle, click here.


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