Kalamazoo, MI – A charge was filed against Ascension Borgess Hospital with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the Kalamazoo hospital violated federal labor law by engaging in multiple instances of anti-union activity including preventing nurses from expressing support for their union. Additionally, a charge will be filed later today with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging that the hospital violated federal law by failing to provide safety information to the Michigan Nurses Association in a timely way when requested.
“At a time when everyone should be coming together, Ascension executives are using the pandemic to try to tear apart the collective voice of nurses,” said Nate Hoffman, RN. “I am deeply disappointed in their conduct. Our community deserves better.”
A full copy of the charge with National Labor Relations Board can be viewed here. In one particularly egregious example, a manager went as far as to physically cover up a nurse’s badge pull by putting a piece of white tape over the MNA logo. Nurses have also been instructed to take off apparel, including bouffant hair nets, containing the color red.
Nurses have been in contract negotiations for over a year. Their contract extension is set to expire at the end of July. While nurses initially received a better proposal, Ascension regressed on its offer and has now proposed that nurses receive wages below the projected cost of living increases for the next three years, which would effectively result in a pay cut for RNs. Nurses say they would understand this if the hospital was in worse financial shape because of the pandemic, but Ascension’s administration explicitly stated that the hospital did not have an “inability to pay.” Ascension executives have refused to disclose their financial records.
“We have already seen far too many good nurses around the country leave our profession due to the stress of the pandemic,” said Emily Fredericksen, RN. “The lack of transparency is appalling. We can’t keep being asked to risk our lives and do more with less.”
Additionally, Ascension is refusing to provide contractual guarantees for safe staffing levels, an issue that is of particular concern to nurses given the high nurse-to-patient ratios that were seen in Detroit at the start of the pandemic.
“As nurses, we want to be able to keep our patients safe,” said Ashley Wingo, RN. “Ascension should not be attacking our collective voice because we are speaking up for our patients.”
“A union is our way of having a united voice as nurses,” said Jamie Brown, RN, president of the Michigan Nurses Association and a critical care nurse at Borgess Hospital. “It is unacceptable that Ascension executives are spending energy in the middle of a pandemic trying to silence us. All we want is a fair contract that will allow us to look after our patients and our families. Ascension’s conduct goes against the values they claim to hold.”
The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) is the largest, most effective union for RNs across the state. As the voice for all registered nurses in Michigan, MNA advocates for nurses and their patients at the Capitol, in the community, and at the bargaining table.
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Contact: Amelia Dornbush, 517-896-7478