I have worked at Northern Michigan Hosptial for 20 years... my entire professional life. It seems unbelievable to find myself walking a strike line.
It is important to respond to the hospital board of directors and CEO concerning their ongoing “puzzlement“ about why we are on that line. It seems to me that they might just want to enlighten themselves and come taIk to us. In fact, to confess this ignorance about why roughly 250 nurses find themselves in this position, is to show that they are derelict in their duties as employers.
Also, in response to a recent letter to the editor, I want to say that the nurses have voted for representation. The hospital refuses to recognize this. It is not Teamsters creating this chaos... that dubious honor belongs to the Board and Mr. Mroczkowski. The letter writer mentioned the Postal Union as being necessary, but failed to explain how postal workers might need a bargaining unit while RN‘s do not. Many people seem to have forgotten the way that unions helped force the end of child labor and made the 40 hour work week the norm. Corporate power does not police itself, nor does it go away. Unions give workers a voice to speak up when this power gets out of hand.
Finally I want to thank all the people who have been honking in support, as well as dropping off enough food for an army.
Maureen Scott, RN Petoskey
Tale of two boards
On the 13th of November, our family received a solicitation from the Northern
Michigan Hospital Foundation and the Northern Michigan Regional Health System asking us to pledge money toward the remaining $700,000 of a $37.5 million campaign.
On the 14th of November, the registered nurses began their strike action, asking for a pledge from Northern Michigan Hospitals to bargain in good faith.
Our community has always responded with the dollars and pledges needed to see these important capital projects through.
It is only appropriate thet NMH reciprocate with a signed contract with the RN‘s bargaining unit.
The argument will be made that the foundation is raising money for capital improvements and is therefore disconnected from the management/staff relationship that exists within the hospital. This is far from true.
If one looks on the margin of this solicitation, a listing of the board members of both NMH and the NMH Foundation will be found. There are several common members to the boards and therefore one board knows the activities of the other. The Foundation Board that is asking for dollars and pledges knows that the NMH Board stands behind the techniques used by hospital management to slow down and stall the attempts made by the team of nurses that was elected by their peers to bring this bargaining unit to life.
I have served on enough boards of directors to know that management needs the support of its board in order to function effectively. Unfortunately, this board is supporting its managers at the expense of the greater Petoskey community in general and specifically at the expense of hundreds of nurses and their families.
Many, if not all, of the members of these two boards are involved in local business and presently benefit from the dollars spent in the community by the striking nurses and their families. Every $1,000 dollar paycheck is an integral part of our local commerce. It is hard to accept or understand how this reality can be brushed aside by community members who have been placed in these board pos?tions at least in part because of their concern for the well being of the community.
Our children go to school together and play together and have grown up together. Let‘s get it together.
In a discussion last week with one of the above-mentioned board members, I mentioned that it was quite expensive for NMH to pay strike nurses and possibly travelling nurses if the strike lingers. This board member stated that, yes, it was expensive, but that it would not last forever, because before long more nurses would move to town and take their places.
If this attitude prevails within the two boards, then it is not so hard to understand how the management/staff relationship has reached this low point. People do not like to be treated as if they are more easily replaced than respected. Being the eternal optimist, I cannot believe that all 34 board members feel this way. There has got to be a crack in the armor somewhere among them.
NMH has an opportunity to be a true community leader and healer in this situation. The boards of directors are in charge here and they need to steer the ship back into calm waters.
Dale S. Scott Harbor Springs
Petoskey Club fallout
As the Employment Specialist for Northern Michigan Community Mental Health, I often talk to area employers and community members about the Petoskey Club, and I am always surprised to find that most people have no idea what the clubhouse is. That is why I was pleased to see that such a positive and informative article was included in the November 14 issue of the Northern Express. Writer Bob Downes took a real interest in the people and programs of our clubhouse, and put together an expository piece that highlighted some of the basic functions of the clubhouse, and served its purpose of educating the public about the Petoskey Club.
I was, however, unhappy to see that several details were inaccurately reported, and I was misquoted on more than one response. To the general public, these details are insignificant, but to those directly involved, these details are extremely important. As soon as the article came out, I began receiving phone calls and questions regarding things that were written in the article. I have made countless apologies and explanations, but I am certain that there are many people who are still questioning some of the things that were written.
That is why I think it is important to inform the readers of the Northern Express about some of these discrepancies. First, and most importantly, it was implied in the article that agency case managers give “orders“ to the individuals they serve. This is certainly not the case. Our agency strongly believes in person-centered practices through which all decisions about a consumer‘s life are made with his/her input. Secondly, readers should note that the program is open to anyone with a chronic mental illness. We do not discriminate against those with developmental disabilities if the individual also has a current diagnosis of mental illness. Also of note, We do not call our program a clubhouse simply because it sounds “fun.“ Clubhouse is the name given to a specific form of psychosocial rehabilitation, and the Petoskey Club is proud to be one of only two certified clubhouses in the state of Michigan. Finally, I wanted to make it clear that the club‘s Transitional House only houses up to five people, not eight as was stated in the article. Our agency has assured city zoning officials that no more than five people would be residing at the house, and we have always complied with those restrictions.
There were a few other discrepancies in the facts that were reported in the article, but again, most readers would not be impacted by these details. I did, however, want to set the record straight on those specific misrepresentations. In addition to the negative feedback I received, I also heard many positive comments from colleagues and community members who felt that the article did a wonderful job of portraying the clubhouse an its members, and who gained a more complete understanding of the services that we provide. Thank you for taking an interest in our program.
Amanda Bricker Employment Specialist - Northern Michigan Community Mental Health
No need for war
Mr. Burger: I am sorry that you felt abandoned (re: “Remember the Soldiers“ 11/21). I know that you were doing what you thought was the right thing. I disagree with you though. I don‘t believe that war is coming. I don‘t believe that war is inevitable because it is “our nature.“
War is a choice that we make. It happens because we allow it. We can make it
stop. All we have to do is believe that we can, and work toward that goal.
Or as a great singer-songwriter once said, “War is over if you want it. War
is over now.“
Shanna Robinson Horton Bay
Getting the word out
The article (“Taking on Domestic Violence,“ 11/7) was great. I‘ve talked to several people who read it and concurred that it was factual and well written. Domestic violence is a long uphill battle, but we are committed to the fight. Thanks for helping to get the word out.
Nancy Stewart Womens Resource Center, Petoskey