Beaumont nurses file unfair labor charge over alleged anti-union actions

Nurses at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak have filed an unfair labor practice charge against management over alleged attempts to interfere with efforts to organize workers.

Some nurses at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak have filed an unfair labor practice charge against management over alleged attempts to interfere with efforts to organize workers, a union said Wednesday.

With the support of the Michigan Nurses Association, the nurses filed the charge Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board.

The nurses accuse the hospital of several labor law violations, including:

  • Changing job duties of a union supporter to isolate her from other nurses.
  • Threatening loss of favorable working conditions for employees who choose to be organized by a union.
  • Establishing a rule that attempts to prohibit workers from talking about unions.
  • Attempting to prohibit the distribution of pro-union materials.

Mike Weber, a 51-year-old psychiatric nurse at the hospital, said he knows of nurses who were called into administration offices and asked about pro-union posts on Facebook, and at least one nurse who was pulled from her regular job duties because she was speaking with her peers about the efforts.

"I was taken during my work hours and pulled from normal duties for patients in April to a union-busting or anti-union meeting," Weber said. "I was appalled by some of the misinformation that was given. It was not a balanced portrayal of the union. If Beaumont would step back let us form our own union without intimidation, we can reach a good decision."

Beaumont does offer education sessions to nurses on their rights under the law, the company said Wednesday, but they do not pull the workers away while working with patients.

Susan Grant, executive vice president and chief nursing officer for Beaumont Health, said she is unaware of any of the other alleged practices and that the Southfield-based nonprofit health system has yet to receive the complaint.

"I can tell you that we do not believe there is any merit to those allegations," she said. "We are confident we are in compliance with the National Labor Relations Act. ... We respect our employees and their right to unionize or not."

Some service workers are unionized at Beaumont, she said. She also emphasized that a number of executive leaders at Beaumont Health and the Royal Oak hospital are nurses, and that since 2004 the hospital has earned Magnet status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center that honors health care organizations with nursing excellence.

An individual also filed a charge June 14 against the Michigan Nurses Association, alleging the union attempted to coerce employees, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Roger Kerson, spokesman for the union, said it has not received the complaint.

The National Labor Relations Board will review the evidence and determine if it will pursue the case against Beaumont.

In April, more than 100 nurses committed to efforts to organize a union drive at the Beaumont hospital. A Facebook group for the cause has more than 1,800 participants, Weber said.