When University nurse MaryAnn Beauchamp-Sayraf heads to the polls to cast her vote on Proposal 2 next month, the constitutional amendment isn’t just another box to check on the ballot — it’s personal.

Proposal 2 , a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would grant nurses and other care workers collective bargaining rights, will appear on Michigan’s statewide ballot on Nov. 6. Though the proposal wouldn’t force individuals to join a union if passed, it would constitutionally guarantee them the right to do so, allowing nursing employees to negotiate hours, the number of nurses per patient and concerns regarding individual schedules and assignments.

Dawn Kettinger, the communications director of the Michigan Nurses Association, said there are currently no laws regarding issues like maximum hours and the number of patients per nurse, making the proposal an important provision.

“We’re working very hard to pass this proposal because of what it means to our nurses: having a voice and being able to advocate for the safety of their patients” Kettinger said.

In her 26 years as a nurse, Beauchamp-Sayraf said she has only had the opportunity to join a union at the University Hospital, where she has worked as a registered nurse in the University’s cardiovascular center for the last nine years.

She added that she has had a positive experience as a union member, and recently appeared in an ad on behalf of the “Vote Yes on Proposal 2” campaign, advocating for her belief that the right to unionize affects the quality of patient care directly.

Beauchamp-Sayraf said she was approached by the Michigan Nurses Association, a member of the Protect Working Families Coalition, and asked to participate in the commercial as part of the campaign.

“I was passionate about it,” she said. “I was willing to do whatever it took to help in this cause. I’m glad I did it.”

In the advertisement, Beauchamp-Sayraf dons her MCard, which are used as identification in the University Hospital, and said though she was conscious of the accessory, she was speaking on behalf of herself, not the University.

She noted she taped over the words “University of Michigan” and carefully placed her stethoscope over the word “MCard,” adding that there was no involvement on the part of the University, and no conflict has resulted from her participation in the campaign.

“I took very careful precautions to obliterate the University affiliation,” she said.

University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham wrote in a statement that the University did not note any specific issues concerning the ad, and encourages political participation among its employees.

“The (University) fully supports participation of our employees in political activities, provided they are acting on their own behalf and using their personal time and resources,” Cunningham wrote in an e-mail statement. “We do ask that they make it clear their actions represent their personal individual views, and not say or imply they are acting on behalf or under the endorsement of the university.

Beauchamp-Sayraf said she experienced the benefits of collective bargaining firsthand during her union’s last negotiation with UMHS. Prior to negotiations, there was no minimum rest period required between a worker’s on-call hours and his or her regularly scheduled shift. However, after union discussions, the nurses at the University Hospital now have a minimum nine-hour rest period between the two duties.

Beauchamp-Sayraf said having well-rested nurses automatically increases the quality of patient care.

“I can tell you that there is a world of difference between my nursing career outside of a unionized hospital, where I had no representation, and the experience that I have now, with representation,” Beauchamp-Sayraf said. “The difference is incredible.”

She added that she hopes the proposal will pass to ensure all locations of employment have the opportunity to participate in collective bargaining. She noted that a well-rested nursing staff leads to fewer medical errors, which ultimately brings down health care costs.

“I think a lot of times, administrators lose that aspect of the bottom line,” she said. “When you have adequate nurse staffing, that is the most cost-effective way to deliver safe care.”

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