County Board OKs Nurses Union Agreement

At its July 6, 2011 meeting, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners gave initial approval to an agreement with the Michigan Nurses Association – Unit I. The agreement covers the period from July 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2013.

Commissioners held an executive session early in their meeting to discuss the collective bargaining agreement, which affects 13 public health nurses and nurse coordinators in the county’s health services department. It’s the first of 15 union agreements being negotiated as part of the 2012 and 2013 budget cycle, and is expected to achieve an annual savings of $132,000. In total, the county hopes to see about $8 million in labor concessions for the two-year budget cycle, to help address a projected $17.5 million deficit. [There are 17 unions representing the county workforce. In January 2011, the county reached agreements with two other unions – the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) and the Command Officers Association of Michigan (COAM) – for a four-year period through 2014.]

According to terms of the agreement with the nurses union, union members will not have raises in 2012 or 2013. The nurses will bear a greater share of health care expenses, pension contributions and retiree health care contributions. For example, the co-pay for emergency room visits will increase from $50 to $250. Union members will now pay deductibles, and a percentage of the cost of their medical expenses, up to an annual maximum. Prescription drug co-pays will also be increased under the new agreement. In addition, the number of annual “banked leave” days – similar to unpaid furlough days – will increase from 6 to 12.

The board will take a final vote on the agreement at its Aug. 3 meeting.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]