Press Release

Cincinnati VA nurses to rally against management weaponizing police to intimidate union activity

Three nurses with raised fists hold signs "Staff Up for Safe Care"

Police investigation initiated after nurses meet with director to demand safe staffing

Registered nurses who work at the Cincinnati Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, will hold a rally on Thursday, June 1 to protest management’s tactics of using VA police to intimidate and silence nurses in their efforts to advocate for better health care for veterans, National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) announced today. 

Nurses say management has used the VA’s police force to attempt to silence them following a meeting with the facility’s leadership on May 17 to discuss solutions to persistent recruitment and retention problems at the facility. Nurses were able to meet with the facility’s director to discuss their ideas. However, the next day, nurses were informed that a criminal investigation had been opened up regarding the previous day’s events and nurses were read Miranda rights in meetings with police.

“All of us got together and went to see the medical center’s director about the solutions we have for the nurse recruitment and retention issues the VA is facing,” said Shana Rivera, RN in the intensive care unit and chief nurse representative. “But instead of this meeting leading to a productive dialogue about making those solutions a reality, it’s turned into another example of management trying to scare us out of advocating for the best for the veterans we take care of every day.”

  • Who: RNs at Cincinnati VA Medical Center
  • What: Rally against management intimidation tactics
  • When: Thursday June 1, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Where: Cincinnati VA Medical Center, 3200 Vine Street, Cincinnati

The same day as the rally in Cincinnati, NNU nurses at nearly two dozen facilities nationwide will also be placing calls to VA Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) 10 director Laura Ruzick to demand an end to the use of the VA’s police force as a tool to intimidate registered nurses and silence their union organizing.

“We simply want management to hear us out on a scheduling flexibility policy that’s been implemented at other VA facilities and has proven to improve nurse retention,” said Tim Puckett, a registered nurse in the medical/surgical unit and assistant chief nurse representative. “Improved nurse recruitment and retention means more nurses and better care for our veterans.”

“Veterans at the Cincinnati VA are in danger of becoming collateral damage as a result of the administration’s intimidation tactics, which create a hostile work environment,” said Rivera. “We need to be doing everything we can to attract experienced nurses to the VA and create a stable workforce that is best able to provide the highest quality of care.”

NNU nurses who work at other VA facilities say they’ve faced similar intimidation tactics. 

“We are seeing police being called in when nurses demand action from their employers to address persistent patient safety concerns,” said Irma Westmoreland, RN, the VA chair of NNOC/ NNU and a vice president of NNU. “We are outraged at the weaponization of the police force and management’s illegal tactics as nurses are raising legitimate concerns about the care of our veterans.”

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.