Press Release

Asheville nurses to rally as they begin new union contract negotiations with HCA

Asheville nurses rally as they begin new union contract negotiations with HCA

Mission Hospital RNs plan to demand better for nurses and patients

Nurses represented by National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, will hold a rally as they begin negotiations on a new union contract with HCA, the facility’s owner and largest health system in the United States. Nurses’ current contract will expire on July 2, and they say their key priorities for their new contract are intended to improve patient care and working conditions at their facility. NNOC represents more than 1,500 nurses at Mission Hospital.

“When HCA took over Mission in 2019, it completely changed our hospital for the worse,” said Kelly Coward, RN in the cardiovascular intensive care unit at Mission Hospital since 1997. “We used to be the place that every nurse in the region wanted to work, and we had high retention because of it. But HCA cares more about profits than the people we take care of. This contract fight is about reclaiming Mission as a hospital to provide care for patients, not just an investment to milk for cash.”

  • Who:    Nurses at Mission Hospital
  • What:   Bargaining kick-off rally
  • When:  Thursday, April 18, 8 a.m.
  • Where: Mission Hospital, 509 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, on the corner of Hospital Drive and Biltmore Ave.

“HCA is profiting off of our community’s pain and suffering. The people of Asheville deserve better,” said Hannah Drummond, RN in the emergency department at Mission Hospital. “As nurses, we’re patient advocates, whether that’s at the bedside or at the bargaining table, where we’ll be fighting for what we need to improve patient care and working conditions for everyone at Mission. Our community has been with us through a lot at Mission, and we look forward to showing HCA that Asheville has had enough of their toxic business practices.”

In a recent NNOC/NNU survey of nurses from across the U.S. who are involved in HCA bargaining this year, 68% of nurses said they infrequently or never had enough staffing coverage to take meal and rest breaks. Additionally, 84% said assignments and responsibilities had increased in recent years, while 72% said patient care quality had decreased.

“This is a huge year for thousands of nurses at HCA hospitals across the country, as NNOC/NNU will be bargaining at 18 hospitals in six states,” said Cathy Kennedy, RN and California Nurses Association/NNOC president. “Everyone knows the Mission nurses mean business, and they won’t be alone as nurses working at HCA facilities in Florida, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, and Nevada are all bargaining this summer.”

Following on from Mission nurses' relentless advocacy for their patients and their hospital, governmental regulators at the local, state, and federal levels have taken action against HCA in recent months. This includes a lawsuit against HCA by the North Carolina attorney general, which local authorities in Buncombe County are also seeking to join, and a determination of "immediate jeopardy" for Mission patients made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency which oversees federal funding for the facility.

HCA, the largest health system in the country, advertises over 180 hospitals in its network. The company self-reported over $5.2 billion in profits in 2023 but regularly shuts down vital health services at its hospitals. According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, HCA has reported over $31.7 billion in profits since 2018 and executive compensation totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

HCA co-founder and major shareholder Thomas Frist, Jr., who has extensive experience serving as an executive at HCA, currently ranks in the top 40 in the Forbes 400 Richest Americans and in the top 60 in the Bloomberg Billionaire Index of the world’s 500 richest people, with an estimated net worth of nearly $30 billion.

National Nurses Organizing Committee is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide. NNU affiliates also include California Nurses Association, DC Nurses Association, Michigan Nurses Association, Minnesota Nurses Association, and New York State Nurses Association.