GRAND BLANC — With contract negotiations still on going between Genesys Regional Medical Center and Teamsters Local 332, a union official says both parties have mutually agreed on a contract extension.
Union President Nina Bugbee said the contracts of more than 1,100 registered nurses were set to expire on May 9, but officials for both parties were able to agree on a two-month extension.
“Our team felt good about it (the extension),” Bugbee said. “We are moving at a pretty slow pace in the non-economic issues and we really did need that 60 day extension to make sure everything is covered.”
Negotiations between the Teamster and Genesys began back in February and at the time Bugbee said she was concerned with how the negotiations would proceed after a letter from President and Chief Executive Office of Genesys Health System Elizabeth Aderholdt was circulated to residents in Genesee and surrounding counties.
In the letter, Aderholdt stated that hospital officials were anticipating “unpleasant messaging” about Genesys to be circulated by the union during the negotiations process.
In response to the letter, Bugbee said 1,000 individuals — Genesys employees and community members alike — took the letters distributed by Genesys and wrote messages, such as “Please bargain in good faith,” on them and sent them to Genesys. All the letters were returned to the senders, Bugbee said.
“Every single letter was sent back to the sender and that is not right. We know the cost of postage and she (Aderholdt) could have used that money more wisely to provide the needs for her patients,” Bugbee said. “So last Friday during negotiations we sent them back to her. This is the employees way of letting her (Aderholdt) know the antiunion tactics will not be tolerated.”
Genesys’ spokeswoman Cindy Ficorelli said any comments from Genesys could be found at the hospital’s “The Source” site, which was established to keep the public informed on the negotiation process.
While unhappy with Aderholdt, Bugbee said the Teamsters are optimistic that an agreement between the parities can be reached sooner rather than later.
“By Friday we should be into the economic talks,” Bugbee said. “I’m not sure how long that will take. In good times, it takes less time. In these difficult times, it usually takes a bit longer. Hopefully we can get it settled soon.”
The last contract negotiations for nurse contracts in 2008 lasted four months, ending in a 905 to 3 vote in favor of increased wages and maintaining the established nurseto patient ratio.
The next negotiations meeting between union leaders and Genesys is scheduled for Friday with additional meeting set for May 22-24.