Nurses Roundly Rejected an Effort by the anti-union National Right to Work Foundation, Supported by the Hospital’s CEO, to Decertify the Union and Strip Them of Their Union Rights
“The honor and integrity of our union is strong, as the St. Vincent nurses have reaffirmed our right to maintain a powerful voice in our advocacy for our patients and our work life. We now look forward to working with all our colleagues to truly begin the healing process and to build a positive future for St. Vincent Hospital,” Marlena Pellegrino, RN
WORCESTER, MA – The St. Vincent Hospital nurses cast an overwhelming vote on Monday to keep their union and representation by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, and with it, their new contract, which they had ratified on Jan. 3 following their historic 301-day strike for safer patient care.
The vote was held after a minority of nurses, backed by the National Right to Work Foundation, a corporate-funded, vehemently anti-union organization, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to decertify the nurses’ union. If successful, the decertification would have stripped the nurses of their union rights and any right to enforce their recently ratified contract that provides the nurses with hard-fought and long sought improvements in staffing/patient care conditions, as well as significant wage and benefit enhancements. In the weeks prior to the vote, Tenet/St. Vincent’s CEO issued a statement to the nurses urging them to vote against the union, a plea that was roundly rejected by the nurses on Monday.
“The honor and integrity of our union is strong, as the St. Vincent nurses have reaffirmed our right to maintain a powerful voice in our advocacy for our patients and our work life. We now look forward to working with all our colleagues to truly begin the healing process and to build a positive future for St. Vincent Hospital,” said Marlena Pellegrino, RN, longtime nurse at SVH and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit with the MNA. “We are proud of our union and the great contract we have built over the last 22 years, a contract that provides our nurses with a strong voice to ensure optimum patient care, and which protects and rewards all nurses at the hospital for the contributions they make to the success of, this, our community hospital.”
The petition to decertify the union was filed with the NLRB shortly after the nurses reached a tentative agreement on their new contract at an all-day session mediated by Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh on Dec. 17th, the 285st day of the nurses strike – the longest nurses strike in Massachusetts history. In January an agreement was reached between the MNA, the nurses filing the petition, the National Right to Work Foundation and Tenet Healthcare to hold the election to decertify the union. Secret Ballots were mailed to nurses by the NLRB on Feb. 4, and the nurses had until Feb. 25 to return their ballots to the NLRB. The final vote was tallied today, Feb. 28, at the NLRB offices in Boston. The tally of approved ballots was 302 - 133 in favor of keeping the union.
The MNA and the nurses are confident that once this process is completed, there will be no change in the outcome.
Members of the media looking for details about the contract settlement achieved through negotiations with Tenet Healthcare, follow this link. For more background on the strike and issues behind it, go here.