Federal Charges Filed Against Orlando Health for Serious Violations of Nursesâ€™ Rights
Intimidation, threats in campaign to join national nurses union causing negative impact on patient care
Unfair labor practice (ULP) charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board against five of the eight Orlando Health hospitals for numerous and egregious violations of federal labor law. The charges were submitted by the National Nurses Organizing Committee-Florida on behalf of Orlando Health RNs who are in the midst of a campaign to win a collective voice for safe patient care with the organization.
Among the RNs’ key goals in seeking to organize a union is improvement in staffing and patient care protections, which have worsened as a result of management’s cuts, as well as their aggressive and illegal campaign against the RNs.
“The night our CEO and vice president of nursing questioned me about the union, I had to hand off two of my patients in an already short-staffed unit because they spent close to an hour questioning me,” said Sarah Collins, an RN who works with critically ill infants at Winnie Palmer Hospital. “Orlando Health feels it’s more important to spend time keeping us from having a union rather than dedicating that same time to our patients. Even more upsetting is the amount of money that the hospital is paying to an anti-union consultant; those are patient care dollars being used to interfere with employee rights.”
The five hospitals include Dr. P. Phillips, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Orlando Regional Medical Center, South Seminole Hospital, and Winnie Palmer Hospital. The incidents which have been taking place over the last several months are violations of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which guarantees employees the right to take concerted action, including forming a union, free from coercion.
The charges include: interrogating employees about their support for NNOC, surveillance of nurses who are pro-union, prohibiting employees from talking about NNOC or sharing information about the union, removing NNOC flyers from areas where other public flyers are posted, threatening employees with reprisals to discourage their support for the union, unlawfully denying off-duty nurses access to their hospitals, and harassing and reassigning pro-NNOC employees.
Examples of ULP charges filed:
- Denying off-duty pro-NNOC employees access to non-patient care areas: The nurses have the right to be in public and non-patient care areas.
- Interrogating employees about support for NNOC with a clear intent to use managers to pressure employees not to support collective representation
- Soliciting complaints and grievances to discourage support for NNOC: RNs have been called into lengthy meetings with supervisors and asked what the hospital can do for them, as well as being forced to listen to anti-NNOC campaign propaganda at the expense of attending to patients requiring care. These are among several examples of how Orlando Health’s tactics are negatively impacting patient care.
- Restrictions on freedom of speech: When told she could not discuss NNOC with her coworkers or wear a “Respect Nurses” button, a nurse correctly replied that if she could talk about her kids or her husband, why couldn’t she talk about the union?
The 5,000 RNs of Orlando Health’s eight hospitals began organizing to fight their employer’s plan to enact major cuts, including thousands of employees’ night shift pay differential in early August, which could cost workers a loss of up to $15,000 annually. This came at a time when the company is undergoing a costly expansion, and has reported a $271 million profit over the last four years. The nurses contacted NNOC-FL after speaking with RNs already represented by the national nurses union in area hospitals about the improvements in working conditions and patient safety.
The RNs continue to press hospital officials to rescind the cuts and maintain and improve nurse-to-patient safe staffing ratios and agree to a fair process for employees to organize a union without interference from hospital management.
NNOC-Florida is part of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest direct-care RN union, representing 185,000 members.
NNOC-FL represents RNs at:
Blake Medical Center, Bradenton; Doctor's Hospital of Sarasota; Fawcett Memorial Hospital, Port Charlotte; Florida Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale; Largo Medical Center, Largo; Central Florida Regional Medical Center, Sanford; Medical Center of Trinity, Trinity; Northside Hospital, St. Petersburg; Oak Hill Hospital, Brooksville; Osceola Regional Medical Center, Kissimmee; Palmetto General Hospital, Hialeah; St. Petersburg General Hospital, and the Veteran Affairs Hospitals in Lake City, Miami, and Tampa.