North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale will face accusations that it unfairly retaliated against union workers who picketed the hospital.
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.
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!
Lyz Martin, 25
Dietary Aide at Mercy Hospital, Minneapolis
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.