Affinity Nurses Plan Festive Return for RN Unlawfully Fired for Union Activity
Federal judge orders full reinstatement of Ann Wayt
Senator Sherrod Brown adds support in congratulatory video message
Affinity Medical Center registered nurses will be joined by members of local unions and community supporters in a celebratory show of support for RN Ann Wayt on her first day back to work Thursday after a federal court ordered the hospital to reinstate her, the National Nurses Organizing Committee-Ohio, announced today (NNOC-OH). Affinity is also ordered to retract the report it made to the Ohio Board of Nursing seeking to have her nursing license rescinded.
Carrying bagpipes, flowers, and paper lanterns, a group of Wayt's RN colleagues will be on hand to greet her and will accompany her into the hospital. Nurses from units throughout the facility will send a flower every hour of her initial shift as an ongoing reminder of their support.
The ruling, issued January 22 by U.S. District Court Judge John Adams of the Northern District of Ohio, delivered a sweeping cease and desist injunction requiring Affinity Medical Center to end its lawless behavior in refusing to bargain with its registered nurses and engaging in repeated illegal discipline and harassment of its RNs. First bargaining sessions are set for February 21 and 24.
What: Welcome Back Ann Wayt Event
When: Thursday, February 13—6:15 a.m.-6:45 a.m.
Where: Affinity Medical Center entrance
875 8th Street in Massillon, OH
Public Officials' Support
A number of prominent elected officials, including Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry, have joined in expressing public support for Wayt and the Affinity RNs.
“When we think of those who provide care for our loved ones who are sick or injured, we think of nurses like Ann with 25 years as a staff nurse at Affinity,” said Brown in a taped video message. They both congratulated Affinity RNs for winning a union and the right to bargain and win patient safety improvements in their contract that will benefit the community.
Catazaro-Perry who commended Wayt for her professionalism and commitment to her patients, noting her receipt of Affinity’s nurse excellence award and the prestigious Cameos of Caring from the University of Akron.
“I know Ann Wayt personally and I know her to be an outstanding nurse,” said Catazaro-Perry.
Affinity RNs are enthusiastic about Wayt's return.
“I will be so happy to have Ann back at the hospital. She is so respected at the hospital as a fabulous nurse and role model for so many at Affinity,” said mental health RN Michelle Canfora.
“Thank you Ann for staying strong! You have given us courage. We are so pleased to see justice prevail for Ann and all Affinity RNs,” said intensive care unit RN Sarah Falanga.
Federal Judge Ruling
Judge Adams found that the NLRB had properly certified NNOC-Ohio as the bargaining representative of Affinity RNs, who voted in August 2012 to join the union, and dismissed claims by Affinity that complying with federal law would adversely “impact the services or residents of the hospital."
This is the third injunction within a year against affiliates of Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, now the nation’s largest hospital chain, for rampant violations of federal labor law.
On Wayt, Judge Adams rejected Affinity’s trumped-up pretexts for her termination. He found Affinity’s actions to be “inconsistent with disciplinary actions taken against other persons with similar alleged violations and disproportionate to the offense level."
Key components of order include a requirement that Affinity immediately:
- Offer full reinstatement to Wayt, and end the effort to have the Ohio Board of Nursing rescind her nursing license.
- End all discipline and harassment of RNs, including reporting them to the Board of Nursing, for union “activity, sympathies or support.”
- Cease threats of physical harm to RNs who submit forms to management objecting to unsafe patient care assignments and urging improvements for patient safety.
- Cease telling RNs that the hospital “would enjoy disciplining known union supporters,” and “imposing more onerous working conditions” on union supporters.
- Cease and desist its refusal to recognize and bargain with the RNs’ democratically elected union representative, National Nurses Organizing Committee-Ohio.