Hospitals

North Memorial Hospital harassed, retaliated against employees: NLRB

Complaint says hospital management targeted employees who spoke up for safe staffing levels at June picket


St. Paul, MN – North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale engaged in a pattern of harassment and retaliation against staff for their participation in a June informational picket calling for safe staffing levels, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

The NLRB this week issued a formal complaint finding the hospital violated the National Labor Relations Act after investigating Unfair Labor Practice charges filed by the Minnesota Nurses Association and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

MNA and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota filed charges with the NLRB after the hospital fired one employee, revoked work agreements and forced employees to work weekends, “repeatedly interrogated” staff about their union activities, warned employees and union staff that talking about unions was prohibited and threatened to file charges if discussions continued – all because they participated in the June picketing.

“Despite the challenges that North Memorial’s retaliation has caused for me, I don’t regret for one second that I spoke up for safe staffing levels and patient safety,” said Melvin Anderson, a member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who was fired from his position in the sterile processing unit at North Memorial, a moved alleged to be illegal by the NLRB. “I hope this ruling makes North Memorial understand that they can’t intimidate employees and that it is time to finally address their staffing levels. My co-workers are telling me that recent cuts in staff are putting their safety and patient safety at risk.”

Presidents from the two unions involved also commented on the ruling against North Memorial.

“North Memorial management’s actions were outrageous,” said MNA President Linda Hamilton. “Hospital staff were exercising their legal rights to a peaceful event to protest staffing plans that could endanger patient safety. The hospital should have used its energy to create safe staffing levels that ensure patient safety and allowed nurses to perform quality work.”

“SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members bravely raised their voices to address staffing levels at North Memorial in June, but instead of listening to their front line staff, North Memorial decided instead to retaliate against and even fire workers who took part in the informational picket. The ruling Tuesday from the NLRB recognized this for what it is: harassment and intimidation,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. “As staffing levels continue to decline, posing increased risks to patients, North Memorial must stop retaliating against employees and should instead focus on making certain their hospital has safe staffing levels as they care for our families.”

The NLRB will hold a Jan. 7, 2015, hearing on the case.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 43,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota. SEIU represents more than 57,000 members across Minnesota and is a powerful voice working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans.

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MPLS Business Journal: Complaint: North Memorial harassed union workers

North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale will face accusations that it unfairly retaliated against union workers who picketed the hospital.

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Star Tribune: North Memorial faces unfair labor charges

The National Labor Relations Board is alleging unfair labor practices at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale after unionized workers claimed they were harassed and retaliated against for participating in a June informational picket.

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Fighting for Safe Patient Care at North Memorial

Frontline staff at hospitals and clinics spend every day helping community members stay safe and healthy, so when they ring the alarm about patient safety, we need to listen.

North Memorial management recently announced they want to cut nursing staff to dangerously low levels by increasing the number of patients each nurse cares for in the majority of units in the hospital.

Today, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members who work at North Memorial Hospital, along with nurses from the Minnesota Nurses Association, are coming together for an informational picket at the hospital in their fight for safe patient care.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 24 – Informational picket will be ongoing from 8am to 6pm, Rally 2-4pm
WHERE: North Memorial Hospital, 3300 Oakdale Ave N., Robbinsdale

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Abbott-Northwestern Lab Assistants Join Our Union

On Wednesday, May 14, over forty Lab Assistants at Allina Abbott-Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis voted overwhelmingly to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and the 1600-member-strong union at their hospital! Executive Board Member Jeff Sarro supported the group through a fast, 2-month organizing campaign in the face of opposition from their bosses, and the lab workers stood united to the end. “All I did was give them the tools to build a house, and they built their own house,” said Sarro. The Lab Assistants will join the existing Service & Maintenance group whose master contract – which covers 4,000 union members at 8 hospitals – expires next year. Congratulations to the newest members of our union!

ANW Lab Assts

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Accretive barred from Minnesota under settlement with Attorney General

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SEIU Healthcare MN Member, Lyz Martin Working To Turn Out Young Voters

Member Profile:

Lyz Martin, 25
Dietary Aide at Mercy Hospital, Minneapolis

SEIU Member, Lyz Martin, working at SEIU MN State Council office

In 2008, the last U.S. Presidential Election year, voters under 30 formed about 17 percent of the electorate. They cast twice as many ballots for Obama as for John McCain. By contrast, only half of voters over 30 backed the Democratic nominee. It was the biggest generation gap in four decades of modern election polling.

Almost four years later, speculation is rising that stubbornly high unemployment among 20- to 24-year-olds – at 9.3 percent for college graduates and 12.9 percent overall – will cause them to abandon the voting booth in November by simply staying home.
SEIU member, Lyz Martin, 25, sees the trend herself. “Nobody in my generation and circle of friends is doing this yet,” she says. By “this” she means devoting the next few months to nothing but working to organize union members, especially those who are younger, to get involved now and up until Election Day.  Martin, who works as a dietary aide at Mercy Hospital in the metro region, says what motivated her to become involved as a, “lost timer” to engage in GOTV work this summer/fall is the same thing that motivated her to join the union.  “For so long I knew I wanted to be active, but did not know where to begin,” she says. “But my union gave me a way to get involved because leadership actually sought me out to engage me. And it mattered to me that they did so because for the first time I felt that being a young, Native American female who is tattooed and opinionated meant I was seen for my opinions and talents and skills that I have to offer.”
What does she have to say about news about the potential for a disenfranchised youth voting bloc?  “In 2008 we voted and played our part,” Martin says. “Then many of us shifted or drifted. But the bottom line is we need to make connections with each other, educate ourselves, move onward and stay involved,” she adds.

The main issues Martin is speaking out on are wrapped up in the 99% agenda which includes good jobs now, making the rich and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes, providing critical services for all people, and creating a fair pathway to citizenship for every immigrant worker in America.

SEIU members identify as Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Our focus is on the issues, not on the political party. We are proud to stand with candidates who stand with us.

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Another Victory as Technical Workers at St. Francis Medical Center Unite with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota

On Tuesday, July 10th approximately 100 technical workers at St. Francis Medical Center voted to unite with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

These St. Francis techs join the Abbott Northwestern Hospital techs that united with SEIU HCMN a few weeks ago in June. They were formerly members of the Association of Diagnostic Imaging Technologists (ADIT), a professional association that focused on working with management over members.

 “After years of disappointment with ADIT my co-workers and I felt it was definitely time to find a better, stronger and more professional union to represent us. That’s why we supported joining SEIU,” said Heather Hamilton, a Surgical Technologist at St. Francis Medical Center.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members who work at St. Francis Medical Center, and Abbott Northwestern Hospital were instrumental in helping these techs organize to regain a stronger voice at their workplace.

“With the wins at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center, we have laid a strong foundation for service and tech worker unity in Minnesota hospitals,” said Executive Board member Jeff Sarro, a Scheduling Coordinator at Abbott who helped the techs organize. “This unity will open the door to building Union power in these hospitals, and across the state at an entirely new scale.”

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Technical Workers Unite with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota

On Thursday, June 14th over 100 technical workers at Abbott Northwestern hospital voted to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

The Abbott techs were formerly members of the Association of Diagnostic Imaging Technologists (ADIT), a “professional association” that consistently failed to deliver for workers, made shady deals with the boss, and repeatedly interfered with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota’s efforts to organize techs at other hospitals.

Last year, ADIT members at Abbot Northwestern hospital attempted to join SEIU.  However, their effort was stopped when ADIT’s leaders signed a new contract with the hospital – without letting their members vote on it! This steeled the resolve of these workers to leave ADIT, and one year later, these techs reignited their campaign and are now spreading it to other Minnesota hospitals.

“There is strength in numbers and SEIU has more power.  In this day and age the more representation you have the better,” said one of the newest SEIU HCMN Techs, Johnny Munster a Special Imaging Radiology Technologist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital

Service and maintenance workers at Abbot Northwestern who are SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members played a leading role in helping the techs to organize.

“This is a big step for technical workers in Minnesota, and the first step in raising their wages, benefits and standards,” said Executive Board member Jeff Sarro, a Scheduling Coordinator at Abbott. “These technical workers see that SEIU is the way to go for raising their standards within their hospitals and across the state.”

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Workers at eight metro hospitals ratify new contract

St. Paul, MN—On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, 3,500 members of the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota (SEIU HCMN,) overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new 3 year contract with eight metro area hospitals:  Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Fairview Riverside Hospital in Minneapolis, Children’s Hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Health East’s Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul and St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, and Park Nicollet/Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.

“Many of the contract changes the hospitals wanted posed significant cuts to the extent that earning family-sustaining incomes were put at-risk for most of these low-wage workers,” says Tee McClenty.  “While the hospitals were asking us workers to work more for less, we were simply trying to hold the line on proposed cuts that would have reduced benefits like overtime and health insurance. I’m satisfied with what we protected and achieved,” adds Jermaine Rayford, a longtime cook at Fairview Southdale Hospital.

Workers are increasingly facing workplace environments in these non-profit hospitals that are more akin to corporate climates where profits are put ahead of everything else. “Our approach during negotiations had been not only on behalf of our members but also on behalf of those they serve and the larger issues workers across this state and country are facing every day by corporate powers,” she adds.

The previous contract expired in late February and negotiations had been on-going until workers voted last week in support of a 2-to-5 day strike unless an agreement could be reached.  Negotiators did reach a tentative agreement on the heels of that strike vote. Now, with today’s ratification of the contract the issue is resolved.  “But it’s resolved only until next time,” adds McClenty. “As long as workplace fairness, and patients’ best interests, are sacrificed for profits then our work never really ends.”

*The 3,500 affected workers include: nursing assistants, ER techs maintenance and food service personnel, clerks, warehouse staff, environmental services staff and others.

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