Posted by Mike Hall to AFL-CIO NOW
Registered nurses (RNs) at Norton Audubon Hospital in Louisville, Ky., may be a step closer to a long awaited fair election for a voice at work after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a 13-point complaint against the hospital.
The nurses are fighting to win a union voice with the Nurses Professional Organization, California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (NPO, CNA/NNOC).
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the complaint alleges hospital management told nurses they would lose wages and benefits if they voted for a union, and management kept pro-union nurses from handing out union literature. The complaint also alleges that the hospital had pro-union nurses followed during their off-duty hours in an attempt to intimidate them.
In a post on the Kentucky State AFL-CIO website by state federation President William Londrigan, Ann Hurst, a cardiac RN at Audubon, says she is not intimidated by the hospital administration’s anti-union tactics.
I am not afraid of our management. It is our right as citizens to organize and gain a stronger voice to protect our patients and ourselves.
The nurses’ fight for justice has been long, beginning in the early 1990s.
In 1994, after a vicious anti-union campaign by the hospital’s then-owners, Columbia/HCA Healthcare, the nurses lost an election. But the NLRB overturned the results because of the hospital’s violations of labor law. A new election was ordered, but before it could be held, Norton Healthcare purchased Audubon. Londrigan writes:
Since that time, Norton Healthcare has been found guilty of hallmark violations of the law, including unlawful firing and disciplining of nurses, unlawful banning of union literature, unlawful interrogation, unlawful interference with freedom to speak, plus more. Norton Healthcare has paid over $570,000 to nurses in NLRB settlements. In addition, Columbia/HCA paid $270,00 paid for its violations.
An election was set for March but was postponed after the nurses filed the charges that resulted in the NLRB complaint.
In June, community leaders, led by the Rev. A. David Bos, delivered a letter to Norton Audubon administration expressing their deep concern for the hospital’s actions against the nurses. The letter asked the hospital to stop the intimidation, respect the right to organize.
A hearing on the charges is set for Sept. 16.