Timeline of Events
Feb. 10, 1975
Michigan Medicine (University of Michigan) nurses’ vote through the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) to form a union with the Michigan Nurses Association is certified.
April 12, 1976
MNA’s first contract with the University of Michigan Board of Regents is executed.
MNA’s bylaws establish “local bargaining units” as a way of having clear branches within MNA. The branch for nurses at the University of Michigan is “UMPNC” (University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council).
1981 and 1989
MNA-UMPNC has work stoppages to protect nurses’ protections. The second stoppage goes to court and the Washtenaw County judge awards nurses back-to-back wage increases.
MNA Executive Director John Karebian sends an email to American Federation of Teachers (AFT) leadership without authorization about forming a “more formal alliance” with MNA.
All members of the elected MNA Board of Directors except Katie Scott, Donna Carnahan, Becky Mammel, and Tracy Birchmeier later affirm that Karebian never discussed this “alliance” with them.
Sept. 2, 2019
MNA-UMPNC Chair Katie Oppenheim is filmed at the Detroit Labor Day parade praising MNA.
Allegations arise at MNA’s House of Delegates about John Karebian. The House of Delegates unanimously passes a resolution to show solidarity with those who raised concerns. Afterwards, additional allegations arise that John Karebian had been engaging in attempted interference in member elections and other misconduct.
Nov. 11, 2019
After the completion of a thorough investigation by outside counsel, the nurse composed MNA Board of Directors passes a motion to remove Mr. Karebian from his position.
Dec. 3, 2019
With no notice to the secretary/treasurer beyond a text sent the day of the meeting, Oppenheim calls a meeting of the executive committee of MNA-UMPNC, saying she had gotten off the phone with Karebian and that there would be an in-person meeting with him at 5:30 p.m. at the MNA-UMPNC office. The MNA-UMPNC secretary/treasurer is not able to attend the meeting and no notes are taken.
Dec. 18, 2019
Oppenheim discusses with attorneys from the law firm Cummings & Cummings issues relating to MNA’s certification as bargaining representative and “separation of MNA and UMPNC,” according to an invoice from the firm.
Oppenheim sends an email out to the MNA-UMPNC executive committee stating that she, Donna Carnahan, Becky Mammel and Katie Scott met with an attorney. In the email she writes: “As has been my practice throughout all of this, I do not wish to communicate extensively on email.”
Dec 2019 - Feb. 2020
MNA attempts mediation two times and asks for mediation numerous times with the MNA-UMPNC members upset about Karebian’s removal. Those members stormed out from the first mediation. According to the second mediator, they never returned phone calls.
Jan. 13, 2020
The services of the law firm Cummings & Cummings are invoiced for the cost of $3487.50. The MNA-UMPNC secretary/treasurer is not notified as required by the bylaws. The membership is also not notified of this expenditure.
Feb. 11, 2020
MNA President Jamie Brown sends the following email to members.
MNA-UMPNC and the employer begin effects bargaining over the pandemic. MNA staff are present at every bargaining session to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the employer and MNA-UMPNC.
Oppenheim rejects numerous offers of support from MNA – including providing organizers for collective action, media coverage to call attention to the situation, and more – to reach a deal.
Instead, Oppenheim insists on adding in a senior staff member from the American Federation of Teachers to the negotiations as an agreement is close to being reached. AFT’s presence and comparative lack of experience in healthcare impedes effective negotiations. None of the parties involved sign the MOU.
March 2020 - present
Throughout the pandemic, MNA meets with Whitmer administration officials and lobbies congressional leaders to advocate for the protections nurses need.
April 4, 2020
An email from Oppenheim to MNA-UMPNC membership advertises AFT’s support for the local in trying to procure PPE and refers to them as a healthcare union. She makes no mention of the offers of PPE from MNA.
April 7, 2020
A piece appears in MLive with Oppenheim repeatedly mentioning efforts to procure PPE through AFT and again describing the predominantly educator-member union as representing healthcare professionals. Oppenheim had previously rejected MNA offers of assistance in raising issues of vital concerns to nurses in the press.
April 13, 2020
An email chain between Karebian and Oppenheim was accidentally sent to an MNA staff member. Oppenheim appears to coordinate media presence with Mr. Karebian in this email.
Oppenheim continues to reject MNA offers of support, including an offer of 3M P-100 respirators on April 15. A copy of the offer and accompanying photo of the masks (now accepted by the interim MNA-UMPNC executive committee) are attached here.
May 5, 2020
Michigan Medicine announces that they want to lay off nurses and techs. MNA offers resources to oppose the layoffs.
May 26, 2020
MNA’s bylaws committee replies to Mammel and Carnahan, letting them know that there are serious issues with the bylaws changes and the process. (The bylaws vote was conducted on March 3 without proper notice to the membership from Oppenheim resulting in less than 1 percent being present.)
The proposed changes made by less than 60 nurses out of 6,000 removed all meaningful references to MNA in the bylaws and removed term limits for officers. At the time of the changes, Oppenheim was in her final term of office under the term limits.
June 3, 2020 (according to a July 15 invoice):
A Cummings and Cummings attorney consults with Karebian and Mammel about the bylaws, which removed references to MNA. Becky Mammel and Donna Carnahan eventually agree to reinstate MNA references to the bylaws.
Multiple emails show that Karebian was included on emails from Oppenheim discussing MNA-UMPNC representational matters on potential employer-sought concessions and other union business.
June 4, 2020
Oppenheim invites Karebian onto a call to discuss bargaining strategy and they both recommend allowing the layoffs to go through. Karebian was employed at the time by the American Federation of Teachers.
June 14, 2020
Email is sent from an MNA-UMPNC rep to Oppenheim, with no response, asking her, “Why is John Karebian CC’d on this email? I removed him from my reply because it is my understanding that his contract with MNA ended after the abuse allegations and he now has a position in AFT.”
Oppenheim facilitates layoffs of nurses over the course of several weeks.
June 18, 2020
Former executive committee meets with Dr. Spahlinger and Michigan Medicine officials regarding layoffs of nurses. The entire team stays silent for the duration of the meeting, posing no questions or challenges to the layoffs.
July 7, 2020
Following formal complaints from MNA in prior months (including at Michigan Medicine) and MNA advocacy, the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MIOSHA) announces new guidance that includes guaranteeing nurses in contact with a COVID-19 + patient or a PUI a respirator.
Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, 2020
MNA House of Delegates meets, with members representing LBUs across the state.
Katie Scott proposes bylaws changes that would restructure the Board of Directors to allow one individual from MNA-UMPNC to have majority voting power for the entire Board.
The proposed change is overwhelmingly rejected by delegates.
The House of Delegates elects a new Board of Directors. Katie Scott, Donna Carnahan, Becky Mammel, and Tracy Birchmeier all lose their seats in the election. Bret Kelly, Heather Roe, and Anne Jackson (all MNA-UMPNC members) become new board members after the election.
Oct. 8, 2020
An internal email from AFT is sent to Karebian’s old MNA email address, titled “Pushing back call on UMPNC.” The email is within the Organizing and Field Services department of AFT and appears to contain only the email addresses of AFT staff. Neither the MNA-UMPNC membership as a whole, the MNA-UMPNC secretary/treasurer, nor anyone at MNA were made aware of this call.
Oct. 9, 2020
MNA-UMPNC election results are announced. No mention of leaving MNA had been made by any of the candidates.
Members complain that only the incumbents were permitted to campaign or flyer in the hospital and that the process for the election was in violation of the MNA-UMPNC bylaws.
Oct. 21, 2020
Shortly after winning re-election to a three-year term, Oppenheim attacks MNA for the first time in a member email, saying she is “investigating options.”
Oct. 30, 2020
The newly elected MNA board meets and decides to affiliate with National Nurses United given the dire need for nurses to unite under the pandemic and the active threat of a raid by the teachers’ union. A copy of the affiliation agreement is available here. This year’s House of Delegates will vote on affirming the agreement. The previous decision to disaffiliate had also been made by MNA’s Board of Directors.
Oct. 31, 2020
An email shows screenshots of a text conversation between Oppenheim and a member regarding the October 21st email where Oppenheim states that there will be more emails coming and also meetings with members on Zoom and on units about it.
She refers the member to AFT’s Armelagos.
Without objection from the employer, Oppenheim uses Michigan Medicine resources to attack the affiliation – highlighting NNU’s willingness to strike as a reason to oppose the affiliation.
Nov. 1, 2020
MNA-UMPNC and MNA Board of Directors member Heather Roe files the following impartial charges against Oppenheim:
Nov. 4, 2020
MNA sends out a bargaining survey to MNA-UMPNC membership.
Oppenheim objects to members being asked for their feedback on bargaining.
Nov. 12, 2020
Katie Oppenheim reaches out to AFT to try to find a way to prevent members from filling out the bargaining survey.
Nov. 24, 2020
Bargaining for a one-year contract begins. The employer makes its proposal.
MNA drafts a counter proposal that same day and emails to former bargaining committee at 4:19 p.m. The bargaining team refuses to discuss a counter proposal at a meeting held shortly after the negotiation session. A meeting to discuss the counter proposal and prepare for the next negotiation session is scheduled with the bargaining team for Nov. 29, 2020.
Nov. 26, 2020
Oppenheim abruptly cancels the meeting.
Nov. 30, 2020
During a brief meeting called by Oppenheim, MNA once again requests to collaborate on a counter proposal and Oppenheim once again rejects MNA’s request.
MNA also asks the bargaining team to share any language they are considering, to which Oppenheim replies, “We’ll get back to you when were ready.”
Dec. 1, 2020
MNA emails the bargaining team, again requesting to meet and collaborate on the counter proposal and again asks the bargaining team to send along any language that it is considering.
Oppenheim replies to MNA’s email with a text message, stating that the bargaining team would not be able to get back with counter proposal language until Dec. 2 – the day of negotiations.
Oppenheim further states via text that the bargaining team’s counter proposal language “will be based on [MNA’s] counter from last week … with likely only a couple if [sic] minor tweaks.”
Dec. 2, 2020
As AFT’s actions become increasingly aggressive, one of AFT’s locals circulates a petition condemning the actions of their parent union.
Still not having received any proposed language from the bargaining team after repeatedly requesting it for 10 days, MNA once again requests via email and text that the bargaining team send any language it would like to propose.
At 1:27 p.m., Oppenheim sends back a counter proposal. The proposal does not contain only “minor tweaks” as Oppenheim had claimed. Instead, the bargaining team’s proposal removes language addressing child care protections, safe staffing protections, parking, PTO, and more – all priority issues reflected in members’ responses to the bargaining survey. You can see a copy here. Bargaining was supposed to occur that day at 3:00 p.m.
MNA postpones bargaining to better understand why Oppenheim would make such an employer-friendly counter proposal and to provide time to further collaborate and present a unified front. Negotiations are rescheduled to resume less than 48 hours later at 12:15pm, Dec. 4.
At 5:06 p.m., Oppenheim sends out an email attacking MNA for postponing bargaining.
Dec. 3, 2020
MNA emails the bargaining committee suggested counter proposal language. The language includes much improved wages, among other issues that were not addressed in the bargaining team’s counter proposal. This directly led to the $500 contract implementation bonus in addition to the 3% increases. A copy of this proposal is available here.
MNA again requests to meet with the bargaining team to collaborate on a counter proposal. At 11:36 am, Katie Oppenheim responds that the bargaining team is fine with MNA’s proposal and that no further discussion is needed.
Dec. 4, 2020
Katie Scott emails MNA stating that she “did not come to agreement on” the counter proposal. This is contrary to the email Katie Oppenheim sent one day earlier.
Within minutes, the following email exchange then takes place: MNA responds that Oppenheim had already agreed to the proposal on behalf of the bargaining team. Oppenheim then responds that she never agreed to the proposal, only stated that it was fine, and requests that MNA send the proposal to the employer. Katie Scott then responds, agreeing that the proposal should be sent to the employer.
Dec. 10, 2020
The employer and MNA-UMPNC again meet for negotiations. In response to MNA’s proposed additional wage increases (which the bargaining team objected to) the employer offers a $500 lump sum implementation bonus. MNA-UMPNC and the University reach an improved tentative one-year agreement.
Dec. 17, 2020
An AFT staff member states in an email to a fellow member that both John Armelagos and Karebian are employed by AFT and tasked with organizing MNA nurses at Michigan Medicine.
Dec. 24, 2020
AFT authors a resolution for MNA-UMPNC to “disaffiliate” from MNA.
Dec. 25, 2020
At 12:16 p.m., that resolution is sent out to the membership.
At 1:15 p.m., a meeting is held by the executive committee to authorize the notice that had already been sent.
Dec. 30, 2020
Over two dozen MNA-UMPNC members file impartial charges against 10 members of the former executive committee for violating both MNA and UMPNC bylaws. A copy of the impartial complaint, and the eventual decision of the hearing officers that the bylaws were violated, is available here.
Using employer resources, the former executive committee sends out an email saying that “MNA almost tanked bargaining.”
Jan. 2, 2021
With less than 30 % of the membership participating in a legally invalid vote one day after New Year’s, the former executive committee claims MNA-UMPNC has disaffiliated, despite the fact that MNA is the sole certified union.
Jan. 3, 2021
Having no other choice legally, the employer continues to affirm in a letter to MNA and “Independent” attorneys that the only way to change unions is through a MERC election.
Jan. 11, 2021
The former executive committee, led by Oppenheim, files with MERC for a schism election and announces it in a membership email.
Jan. 14, 2021
MERC dismisses the filing
Jan. 15, 2021
Oppenheim and other former EC members begin sending in their resignations from MNA.
Jan. 16, 2021
The former executive committee for the “disaffiliated union” (already rejected by MERC) begins the process to decertify MNA. The committee continues to insist it is for a disaffiliation rather than an election that could decertify our current union. The cards only use the name of the local bargaining unit for Michigan Medicine nurses, UMPNC.
The emails to collect the cards are sent through the employer email list-serve and are distributed at new hire orientation, described there simply as union membership cards.
Jan. 21, 2021
To ensure that MNA-UMPNC members continue to have representation, the MNA Board acts via emergency resolution to select MNA-UMPNC nurses to fill the vacancies left by the former executive committee.
Jan. 29, 2021
The "independent" group files an Unfair Labor Practice charge to get the disaffiliation recognized. This is still pending but will likely also be dismissed.
Feb. 18, 2021
The “independent” group loses an injunction filed in Washtenaw County Court to stop their vacancies being filled.
March 2, 2021
The “independent” group loses an injunction filed in the Court of Claims to stop their vacancies being filled.
March 17, 2021
The "independent" group files for an election as “UMPNC, Independent Union." If MNA-UMPNC does not win the election, our current union of 45-years will be decertified.
April 12, 2021
MERC neither administratively clears nor dismisses the "independent" group’s "showing of interest". This was a highly unusual decision that likely reflects the unethical way in which the "showing of interest" was collected.
April 15, 2021
Oral argument is held before a MERC Administrative Law Judge regarding the unfair labor practice charge filed by Oppenheim contesting that she is still the president because MNA-UMPNC disaffiliated in January.
The judge asks her attorney, “Can you cite a single case where MERC has allowed a change in affiliation where the result of that change means that the certified bargaining representative is essentially out of the picture?” Her attorney cannot cite a case the judge agrees is precedent.
The Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) has issued an opinion saying that there should be an election. Their decision, which you can read here, clearly states that the election will be between our current union, the “Michigan Nurses Association and its University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council” and an entirely new and different union, the “University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council, Independent Union.”
A date has not yet been set. The only way to keep the union you have, protect your contract, and build on what we won together in the past 45 years, is to vote for the “Michigan Nurses Association and its University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council.”