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Nurses Welcome Religious Leaders’ Spotlight on Ascension Health Abuses

Michigan Nurses Association, 7/16/10

By Kenneth Zinn
MNA Press Release
July 16, 2010

DETROIT, July 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Leaders of the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) and its national union, National Nurses United (NNU), expressed their appreciation today to Interfaith Worker Justice for its new report, "Ascension Health: A Fall from Grace." (The report can be found online at www.iwj.org.)

The report from the national religious organization documents labor rights abuses at Ascension Health's Michigan hospitals, including at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, Mich., where 700 MNA/NNU registered nurses are in an ongoing struggle to secure a new collective bargaining agreement.

On Monday of this week, the National Labor Relations Board charged Borgess with multiple violations of the National Labor Relations Act, including illegally restraining and coercing employees; unlawfully discriminating against employees in the terms and conditions of employment; and refusing to bargain in good faith with the MNA.

"We welcome the attention of these religious leaders on Borgess' human rights abuses," said Jeff Breslin, RN, President of the Michigan Nurses Association. "It is time for Borgess and its parent company Ascension Health to return to their roots and commit to Catholic social teaching of compassion, justice and respect for workers' rights."

"The nurses at Borgess refuse to be victims and we are standing strong and united for our rights on the job, for our profession, for our patients and for our community," added Monica Walker, RN, a nurse at Borgess. "My co-workers and I are going to hold firm until a fair agreement is negotiated. We owe it to ourselves and our patients to ensure that Borgess is a decent place to work and a hospital where nurses are allowed to deliver quality health care."

"The damage being created by Ascension Health hurts all of us," said Jean Ross, RN, Co-President of National Nurses United. "When hospital management is allowed to disrespect nurses, who are the backbone of the hospital, safe patient care is at risk.

"Our union won't back down from our support for these courageous nurses," she continued. "We will keep fighting and speaking out until justice is done."

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