News from the Michigan Nurses Association
Contact: Roger Kerson; 734.645.0535
Hearing Set for November 5 on Charges of Discrimination Against Union Nurses, Failure to Bargain in Good Faith
(Detroit) Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, an affiliate of the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) owned by Texas-based Tenet Healthcare, has been charged with multiple violations of federal labor law. The hospital will face a November 5 hearing before a U.S. administrative law judge.
“We formed our union to stand up for our patients. Our hospital should be working with us, not against us,” said Kathleen Lehman, a recovery nurse at Huron Valley and president of the Professional Nursing Association of Huron Valley Sinai Hospital (PNA-HVSH). “Instead, they’re taking orders from Texas, and fighting us at every turn – interfering with our meetings, trying to stop us from talking to each other about our workplace. That’s not only wrong and unfair – it’s also illegal.”
In a consolidated unfair labor practice complaint, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has charged hospital executives with significant violations of U.S. labor law, including discriminatory actions against union members and failure to bargain in good faith.
Huron Valley is part of the Detroit Medical Center, which was purchased by Dallas, Texas-based Tenet Healthcare in 2013. A majority of nurses at Huron Valley voted to form a union in their workplace in March 2016, with safe patient care as a top priority.
Nurses have been negotiating with hospital executives since May 2016 but have not yet reached a first contract. PNA-HVSH, the union for nurses at Huron Valley, is an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA).
“We’ve been ready to bargain and work with the hospital from day one,” said Pat Kampmann-Bush a recovery nurse at Huron Valley. “It’s just plain wrong for an outfit from Texas to buy up our community hospital, cut corners to make more money, then try to bully us when we stand up for our rights.”
The NLRB complaint, based on charges filed by Huron Valley nurses, states that hospital executives:
- Threatened nurses with discipline in retaliation for their efforts to improve wages and working conditions;
- Banned a union representative from entering hospital grounds;
- Refused to respond to requests for information needed by nurses for effective representation at the bargaining table;
- Refused nurses their right to meet with colleagues and labor representatives.
Tenet’s track record in Michigan shows the Texas corporation is not a responsible steward of Huron Valley or the other community-based hospitals that make up the Detroit Medical Center, according to MNA Executive Director John Karebian.
“Tenet has mangled a long-standing relationship with Wayne State Medical School,” said Karebian. “They are demoting doctors who say they are being targeted for speaking out about patient care, and our own research has uncovered a sharp decline on charity care spending.”
“No matter what tactics they try, nobody from Texas is going to silence Michigan nurses,” said Karebian. “We look forward to the NLRB hearing in November, where our members will provide evidence about illegal, anti-union activities by hospital executives.”
The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) is the largest, most effective union for registered nurses in Michigan, advocating for nurses and their patients at the State Capitol, in the community, and at the bargaining table.