Nurses Charge Washington Hospital With Violating Federal Law
Washington, D.C. - Registered Nurses at the District’s largest hospital charge the hospital is violating federal labor law by refusing to meet with nurse representatives which is undermining the ability of nurses to address patient safety problems and undermining the ability of the hospital to recruit new RNs.
The RNs, who are represented by National Nurses United, the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the US, yesterday filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. NNU represents 1,600 RNs at Medstar Washington Hospital Center.
They charge Medstar Washington Hospital Center is breaking federal law by refusing to meet with RN representatives, under the nurses collective bargaining agreement, to address problems with patient safety and ignoring nurse grievances which creates a poor atmosphere for both improving patient care and addressing the hospital’s failure to fill 120 vacant and open RN positions.
Additionally, Medstar Washington Hospital Center management is unlawfully barring access to the nurses’ union representative to meet with nurses and assess compliance with the RN contract signed last May. Management continues to violate the letter and spirit of the agreement, say the RNs, citing numerous problems as management continues to effectively stifle the legitimate voices of its RNs.
Medstar Washington Hospital Center’s actions are in sharp contrast, say the nurses, with the image posed by the hospital a major advertising campaign launched by Medstar in an effort to repair the hospital’s declining image in the community. The hospital has been running three separate television advertisements in an attempt to gain community support.
“Medstar management projects one image in our community, but nurses who care for our region’s sickest patients see an entirely different one,” said Lori Marlowe, RN and chair of the Nurses’ Professional Practice and Patient Safety Committee at the facility.
“Nurses experience a management that is unwilling to listen to our elected leadership’s recommendations for improved patient safety, ignoring many of our grievances,” Marlowe said.
“Barring our union representative from our hospital is one example of management’s attempt to thwart nurses from acting to speak out on behalf of better patient care,” said Stephen Frum, RN and chief shop steward at the hospital. “This action must be seen for what it really is: a desperate attempt to keep nurses from enforcing our collective bargaining agreement. Nurses will not be intimidated and we will continue to advocate for our rights and the rights of our patients,” added Frum.
The persistent unwillingness of hospital management to respond to nurse recommendations and grievances is reflected by the 120 open and vacant RN positions at the hospital center. Instead, management continues to rely on expensive traveling nurses who have few if any ties to the local community, say the RNs.