As the Nov. 1 deadline for vaccination against COVID-19 nears for all Michigan Medicine staff, the university health system still hasn't figured out how to mandate the policy for its 6,150 nurses.
Last December, the system ratified a one-year collective bargaining extension with the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council Independent Union that exempted nurses from a vaccine mandate and instead required the system to negotiate with the union for required vaccination.
The agreement states: " ... the Employer will provide the COVID-19 vaccination at no cost to the employees and on a voluntary basis."
Negotiations have not yet begun, but are expected to begin the next few weeks, Mary Masson, director of public relations, confirmed to Crain's.
Masson could not confirm how many of the 6,150 are already vaccinated, but said many are.
"Michigan Medicine is following the collective bargaining agreement with our nurses' union, which requires us to negotiate a vaccine mandate," Masson said in an emailed statement. "We are currently asking our nurses to voluntarily report their vaccination status, but have not finalized all of that data. Many of our approximately 6,150 nurses received the vaccine right from Michigan Medicine."
Other unions at Michigan Medicine also were allowed to sidestep the mandate, but chose not to, Michigan Daily reported.
United Physician Assistants of Michigan Medicine members voted to allow the mandate with 76 percent of members in favor of a mandate.
The negotiations between Michigan Medicine and the nursing union may be moot as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is expected to mandate the vaccine for employees of health care facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.
However, it's not a total certainty until CMS releases its rule. The Biden administration is viewed as union-friendly.
"We'll have to wait and see what the mandate actually says," said Sean Crotty, partner and chair of the labor and employment department at Detroit law firm Honigman LLP.