Press Release

Johns Hopkins Reaches Settlement with Registered Nurses Affirming Nurses’ Guaranteed Right to Unionize

Patients Special Interest

Nurses at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore are hailing as a critical victory a settlement reached with the hospital which reaffirms the nurses’ guaranteed legal right to unionize, said the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) today.  

“This settlement makes clear that nurses have the right to form a union, we have a right to speak with our coworkers about a union, and Johns Hopkins does not have the legal right to target and intimidate nurses who engage in union activity,” said Alex Laslett, RN. “We are organizing at Johns Hopkins because we know a union affords nurses the protection we need to advocate freely for the best care for our patients.”

The settlement resolves unfair labor practices charges filed with the Baltimore-based National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on behalf of the Johns Hopkins nurses by NNOC/NNU. The NLRB found merit to charges that the hospital broke the law by:

  • The creation of the impression of surveillance and unlawful interrogation in regards to protected union activity,
  • Promulgating and/or enforcing a rule barring off-duty RNs access to break rooms, outside patient care areas, in connection with union activity, and
  • Prohibiting Hopkins RNs from talking about the union at work, while permitting other non-work conversations.

The settlement requires that Johns Hopkins Hospital management post signs throughout the facility ;affirming the nurses’ right to form a union. The signs declare that Johns Hopkins Hospital will not prohibit nurses from talking about the union, will not create the impression that hospital management is watching out for union activities, will not ask nurses about their union sympathies, and will not discriminatorily enforce its policies on nurses accessing break rooms.

The NLRB has instructed Johns Hopkins Hospital to have the signs in place by June 14.

“In Catholic social teaching, we teach and believe that all workers have a fundamental human right to organize and to form unions and when an employer such as Johns Hopkins violates this fundamental right, they are acting unjustly and must be held accountable,” said Father Ty Hullinger, a pastor in East Baltimore and a member of the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins. “This settlement puts Johns Hopkins on notice that the community is watching their actions and holding them to a standard that is moral and just.” 

NNOC/NNU was invited by Johns Hopkins nursing staff to assist them in organizing a union. Nurses at Johns Hopkins began organizing with NNOC/NNU to address the chronic problem of high registered nurse turnover due to poor staffing, inadequate equipment and supplies, and substandard compensation compared to other nationally recognized university hospitals.  

NNOC/NNU contends that Johns Hopkins’ response to the RNs’ organizing campaign has been swift and vicious, with Johns Hopkins hiring an army of high-priced anti-union lawyers and consultants to try to dissuade RNs from exercising their rights protected by the National Labor Relations Act.   

The settlement comes as Johns Hopkins is facing intense scrutiny for its practice of suing its workers and low-income patients for piddling amounts of alleged medical debt.  Last month, the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United and the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins released a report detailing Johns Hopkins’ actions against patients, many of whom would have qualified for free or reduced fee medical care under the hospital’s charity care program.  The report may be viewed here: Taking Neighbors to Court- Johns Hopkins Hospital Medical Debt Lawsuits

National Nurses United is the largest and fastest growing union of registered nurses in the US with more than 150,000 members nationwide. NNU plays a leadership role in safeguarding the health and safety of RNs and their patients and has won landmark legislation in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence prevention.