The Spark

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

Back to work, Flint nurses stay strong

Feb 5, 2001

As 600 nurses returned to work after their 73-day strike against McLaren Regional Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, management treated the just-signed contract as a piece of paper they could ignore.

A contract IS just a piece of paper. It's only as strong as workers' readiness to back it up.

The nurses were ready. Immediately, nurses in AFSCME Local 875 prepared to go back on strike.

After the union set a deadline for a strike notice, the company agreed to, and did, post 16 new positions that had been created for scab nurses. This opened those positions to returning nurses, by seniority.

Since the return to work, multiple issues have had to be settled. Management retaliations included: messing with pay and schedules, giving workers' positions to managers in an attempt to lay off union nurses, under-staffing, and posting new management "babysitters" on the floors to nitpick over nurses' shoulders. By the end of the first week, approximately 800 grievances had been filed.

Nurses are staying strong and working together to teach slow-to-learn management that the nurses and their union must be respected.