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Support higher pay for nurses

To the editor:

The Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship’s Justice Ministry strongly supports the Portage nurses in their negotiations for higher pay. We were surprised to learn that the nurses working for UPHS – Portage were the lowest paid in the Upper Peninsula. Kendra Benson, an emergency department nurse put it so powerfully when she said, “We need a competitive wage scale with our competing hospitals in order to recruit and retain these nurses.”

Nurses are our front-line workers. These people work tirelessly to help us to be healthy and safe. They have continued to work through the challenging conditions that the pandemic has created. It is imperative for the nurses and for all of us that they receive a fair wage and decent, predictable working conditions.

The current situation is unsustainable for the working nurses and a dangerous situation for all of us. We as a community depend on our hospitals to establish and maintain working conditions that provide for a fully staffed, well-rested medical team. The nurses are the backbone of this important service.

We call upon LifePoint, a Tennessee-based corporation and the owner of our local UPHS – Portage hospital, to increase the nurses’ wages and significantly improving their working conditions. The nurses are not being heard and taken seriously by this out-of-state corporation even though they and other medical staff and employees are the people who create profit for LifePoint. This is another example of for-profit health care not responding to the human needs of the nurses and patients.

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