I am one of the more than 300 nurses on strike at Northern Michigan Hospital. I am also one of the many who did not want a union, when this all began. I went to several of the bargaining meetings and saw first-hand how the hospital was stalling and refusing to bargain in good faith. It was a very difficult decision to go out on strike.
Since we have been out, the hospital has continued to lie to the public about what is really going on. Unfortunately, the local paper and news stations have reported with bias, instead of with the facts.
I am the educator for the operating room, as well as team leader for the ENT/Oral surgery specialties. Our Surgical Technicians (ST) are still working. Unfortunately, they are having to deal with all of the unsafe work environments that continue every day. The hospital‘s policies, JCAHO regulations, and national nursing standards are being ignored in the operating room. Our central supply department has seen a lot of violations with sharps and knives coming down to them in instrument trays. Usually, they would take photos of this and write up occurrence reports. The polaroid camera has been removed and occurrence reports are being shredded. They are being told it is not an issue right now.
Since when did employee safety and national standards and regulations go by the way side? Our department policy is that no person in the operating room can wear jewelry, nail polish, or fake nails, due to the increased risk of infection for patients. These strike breakers are doing all three. Some are not wearing safety glasses while in the field operating. That alone would be a five to ten thousand dollar fine for the hospital if JCAHO/OSHA were to make a surprise visit.
The hospital refuses to set up a meeting to even start negotiating. We have sent them many letters, as has Rep. Bart Stupak, to urge them back to the table. We are waiting for them to set up a meeting. Nothing will be resolved until they finally agree to sit down and talk. They say this is about money. They have never come to the bargaining table and discussed wages, never. They have not discussed the nurse/patient ratio, which was our number one issue. Your paper has always been neutral and not afraid to print the truth. I hope you will continue that tradition in printing this letter and sending a reporter to the picket line to discuss our issues, where all the other media has failed.
Dawn Whiteside C.R.N.F.A.
(This letter is supported by signed affadavits from a number of strikers. We‘ll have a story on the strike in next week‘s Express, including a response to these allegations from the hospital‘s administration. -- ed.)
Mines still thriving
Last week, my wife and I had occasion to leave our home in Upper Michigan and travel south of the Bridge. On the return trip, I picked up your paper at a restaurant in Gaylord.
Let me compliment you on a really diverse paper that was a truly enjoyable read. I especially liked your article on Ted Nugent vs. Eminem (Random Thoughts 11/21). Your descriptions of the U.P. were quite accurate with only one exception concerning the “mines.“
Two iron ore mines are all that are left in the U.P. Together they produce about 14 million tons of iron pellets annually that go to blast furnaces at Rouge Steel, Cleveland, and Gary, just to name a few.
These remaining mines are not being shut down as your article suggests. You are absolutely right that foreign competition is certainly posing a challenge to us to remain competitive, but “our demise is greatly exaggerated.“
These mines are world-class operations that function in a modern work environment that includes a lot of sophisticated technology. I wouldn‘t blame anybody above or below the bridge who might think we are still using picks and shovels and hauling the ore with mules and wagons. Outside of the communities closest to the mines, not much is known about how we extract virgin iron ore from the ground and turn it into a pellet to be melted down into steel.
My hat is off to you and the newspaper staff for the great paper you publish. My only regret is not having a paper like yours somewhere in the Central U.P. that would give us an alternative to the Marquette Mining Journal, a paper that just seems to copy articles from the Detroit News.
Ron Lovel Ishpeming
Local 4950 - Empire
Mine United Steelworkers of America
Guess that student:
State school superintendent Tom Watkins and governor-elect Jennifer Granholm may want to consider the fate of the Michigan child described below, had the state then required school attendance to age 18 -- as Watkins and Granholm propose:
“He started school at age eight and returned home in tears after three months. His teacher had called him “addled.“ His mother took over, reading with him. A science book was a favorite. At 12 he persuaded his mother to let him apply for the post of newsboy on the Port Huron-to-Detroit train (which left at 7 a.m. and returned at 9:30 p.m. with a six-hour layover in Detroit for library time). He sold fruits and produce from Port Huron in Detroit and evening papers on his return trip. At age 15 he bought a printing press and started a train-focused newspaper. His total formal classroom instruction was just three months. His productivity as an adult: 1,000 patents.*“
*From Notes on Edison: The Man Who Made The Future by Ronald W. Clark, 1977, pp. 9-15.
Tom Shuford Public School
Teacher, Retired Ventura, CA