The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Flint nurses' courage pays off

Jan 22, 2001

Striking nurses in Flint, Michigan voted a resounding "yes" on a tentative agreement between AFSCME Local 875 and McLaren Healthcare Corporate Board, on January 19th.

The 600 nurses had been on strike 73 days, maintaining round-the-clock picket lines despite one of the coldest winters on record.

The agreement bettered management's previous "final offer."

"Overtime is not an issue and it's not negotiable," had said hospital spokeswoman Laurie "Pinocchio" Prochazka.

"Two%" is our FINAL offer had been heard from both negotiator Bernie "I-broke-the-Hamady's-Supermarket-strike" Hoffman and CEO Philip "Love-Me-I'm-a-Big Democratic-Party-Contributor" Incanati.

But the workers prevailed. The national shortage of nurses may have helped. But so did the fact that the nurses stood together during these 73 days.

The new contract gives three% raises, retroactive to September, a one% ratification bonus, and seniority for time served on the picket line. All nurses are guaranteed their same shift and department. Scabs must post for any jobs that are left over.

Prior to the strike, many nurses were made to work 16 hours a DAY. This agreement offers better definitions of overtime and a 16-hour-a-MONTH cap on mandatory overtime.

That wasn't all the nurses gained by striking. The nurses gained confidence in themselves and each other. They won broad support from area workers and even doctors.

They got to know each other and enjoy each other's company, for once.

Workers learned about their rights and how to defend them. Nurses now speak of a readiness to organize floor by floor to see that the new overtime rules are followed.