Hospital workers call for competitive wages, safe staffing and high quality care
Grand Haven, Mich. – Today close to 30 Grand Haven workers protested low wages and called for Trinity to invest in the community at a press conference in front of the hospital. Workers say that Trinity is stalling at the negotiating table and that the company has retaliated against SEIU colleagues in facilities in both Muskegon and Ann Arbor. (Watch Facebook live of the conference)
Last December, almost 200 North Ottawa Community Hospital workers voted to affiliate with SEIU after the hospital was acquired by Trinity and renamed Trinity Grand Haven. SEIU represents Diagnostic Imaging Techs, Lab Assistants and Technologists, Housekeepers, Dietary Workers, and Social Workers, Unit Clerks, Patient Care Associates, Medics, and many other positions at Trinity Grand Haven.
“Nearly every department at our hospital is understaffed and severely underpaid and has been for some time. News of the acquisition by Trinity was actually something I saw as an incentive when I was offered a position here. I was excited to think that this small close knit community hospital would not only be able to provide the personalized care of a smaller facility but that with the resources of a large healthcare system we would be able to bring wages up enough to bring in and retain qualified staff to provide exceptional medical care to our community.
Being located so close to Muskegon, the logical option would be for Trinity to offer a similar contract with competitive wages and benefits. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Trinity has completely stalled at the bargaining table, only offering no raises and subpar working conditions,” said Erin Dexter, ultrasound technician at Trinity Grand Haven.
Workers say that low wages proposed by Trinity are creating a staffing crisis at the facility and making it challenging to find and keep employees.
“We have seen the quality of care deteriorate because we have a staffing crisis. It has gotten to the point where candidates won’t look at our job listing because the pay is so far below all other facilities in the area. There are times when we don’t even have candidates to interview,” said Ricky Kauffman, lead radiographer at Trinity Grand Haven.
Last year, SEIU hospital workers in Trinity Health Muskegon were able to win a contract that lifted wages to levels that were competitive in the region.
“In 2022, Trinity and our union did market research to determine what market rates should be for workers in our respective job titles. The fact that they are refusing now to offer those same rates to Grand Haven workers that we receive in Muskegon shows that Trinity hasn’t learned anything from the past. We know that low wages just lead to a never-ending cycle of short-staffing and employee turnover. That will never be acceptable,” Sherrie Samp, lab tech at Trinity Health Muskegon.
After picketing last month, nursing home workers at Trinity’s Sanctuary at McAuley in Muskegon continue to negotiate but say that Trinity has not budged on wage proposals.
“When we got back to the bargaining table, Trinity refused to negotiate higher wages and other benefits. Trinity has repeatedly shown they care little about our Union contract that they negotiated and agreed to or the workers in this facility. They have refused to honor our grievances, they have refused to give access to our Union representatives, and they simply don’t respect our rights,” said Dawn Rose, CNA at Sanctuary at McAuley.
SEIU workers at both facilities say they will continue to negotiate with Trinity, but that they are ready to take action in the event a contract is not reached.