Ascension hospital in Michigan accused of anti-union activity

Kelly Gooch - Print  | 

Michigan nurses have filed allegations with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, Mich., of engaging in anti-union activity amid contract negotiations, according to the Michigan Nurses Association. 

The July 20 filing claims the hospital restricted the right of union-represented employees to wear union logo badge pulls, scrub tops or other union-branded apparel. It also claims Ascension Borgess told nurses they could not use employee locker rooms to talk about union activity when they were not on the clock.  

The union said it also plans to file a charge July 21 with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging the hospital did not provide safety information to the union in a timely way when requested. 

"At a time when everyone should be coming together, Ascension executives are using the pandemic to try to tear apart the collective voice of nurses," Nate Hoffman, RN, said in a news release. "I am deeply disappointed in their conduct. Our community deserves better."

Michigan's OSHA told Becker's it cannot confirm or deny the receipt of complaints for a specified employer, and complaint activity is confidential until the agency determines whether to conduct an inspection, or a complaint inspection is initiated with the employer.

Allegations against Ascension Borgess come as both sides have been in contract negotiations for more than a year. The nurses' latest contract extension is set to expire at the end of July, and, according to the union, wages and staffing are among the key sticking points at the bargaining table. 

In a statement provided to Becker's, the hospital touted the nurses' care of patients and said it remains committed to working in good faith toward reaching a new contract. 

"Consistent with the Catholic ethical and religious directives, we respect our nurses' right to organize themselves through union representation. We will always hold the health and safety of our patients, associates, providers and visitors as our top priority, following all Joint Commission and CDC quality and safety guidelines, and will address these allegations through the appropriate processes and channels," Ascension Borgess stated. 

"We are focused on continuing to collaborate with the Michigan Nurses Association and remain optimistic we will reach a mutually beneficial agreement that supports all," the hospital said. 


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