Press Release

Maryland Lawmakers Demand Johns Hopkins Hospital Respect Nurses' Rights, End Interference in Union Organizing Drive

JHH nurses with lawmakers

“When registered nurses can speak freely and organize without fear of intimidation, retribution, or harassment, it empowers them to provide quality, therapeutic care and to advocate for patients for improved quality of care."

Forty-seven members of the Maryland General Assembly today sent a letter to Johns Hopkins Hospital urging management to respect the rights of registered nurses to form a union, to stop interfering in their organizing drive, and stop using anti-union consultants to deny nurses their rights.
Lawmakers, led by Baltimore Sen. Mary Washington and Delegate Robbyn Lewis, wrote:
“We urge you to respect the rights of nurses to choose whether they want to form a union free from intimidation, interference, harassment, or retribution by management or its agents. We firmly believe Hopkins management should not use anti-union consultants to deny these nurses their rights. Not only is union-busting wrong, it is counterproductive to the mission of the hospital and wastes precious resources that should go instead to improving safe staffing and patient care.”
The hospital is waging an aggressive campaign, spending millions of dollars, nurses allege, on anti-union efforts that appear to violate legally protected workplace rights. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has determined there is merit to allegations that the hospital has violated federal labor law in restricting the rights of its registered nurses who are seeking union representation. A first NLRB hearing on the nurses’ complaint is scheduled for June 4 in Baltimore.

Hopkins nurse with Sen. Mary Washington
Hopkins nurse with Sen. Mary Washington

“Baltimoreans depend on the skills, experience, and professionalism of nurses to heal the sick and injured, help deliver healthy babies, care for us in times of need, and advocate for patients,” said Washington. “Hopkins management must stop interfering with nurses’ right to choose whether to join a union because doing so can offer them an opportunity to address ongoing concerns including high turnover, unsafe staffing, and other patient care concerns, and empower them to be effective advocates for their patients and themselves. We strongly support the right of all workers to organize and bargain collectively.”
“When registered nurses can speak freely and organize without fear of intimidation, retribution or harassment, it empowers them to provide quality, therapeutic care and to advocate for patients. The choice of whether to join a union must be solely up to nurses,” said Lewis. “Hopkins hospital management must respect the nurses’ rights by immediately stopping their interference and allowing nurses to make their own decision about joining a union. Baltimoreans who rely on Johns Hopkins will benefit from a speedy resolution to this ongoing situation.”

“While Johns Hopkins Hospital management puts profit before patient care, nurses have been moved to work to transform our hospital so that we can provide the highest quality of care possible for our patient,” said Annie Emberton, an endoscopy registered nurse who has worked at Johns Hopkins for six years. “We are excited that 47 members of the Maryland General Assembly are standing with us for quality patient care and our rights as patient advocates.”
Inadequate conditions and other standards, compared to other nationally recognized university hospitals, have led to high turnover and eroded patient care protections and employee morale, say Johns Hopkins RNs. In December 2018, nurses conducted a unit-by-unit survey documenting these conditions and published the findings in a patient care report that can be viewed here.
The Maryland legislators’ letter to Hopkins management is in addition to letters sent earlier from U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and U.S. Representatives Elijah Cummings and Johns Sarbanes. The Baltimore City Council passed a resolution in support of the Johns Hopkins nurses’ campaign in December 2018.

The 47 Maryland legislators include: