Employees of HCA hospital vote out SEIU

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Employees at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., have voted to remove the Service Employees International Union as their exclusive representative, according to a June 16 statement from the medical center.

The vote was the result of a union decertification process conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, which allows hospital workers to decide whether to keep third-party union representation. Union-represented employees — including patient care technicians, certified nursing assistants, food and nutrition services, environmental services, imaging technologists and respiratory therapists — had the opportunity to vote by mail between May 17 and June 14.

Kelly Pirman, an imaging technologist at Research Medical Center, has been advocating with other colleagues to decertify SEIU.

"I have worked at Research Medical Center for 10 years and love this hospital and all of my colleagues," she said in a news release. "The SEIU has not represented us fairly, nor provided us the value they claim. This process, which was our choice and our voice to remove the SEIU from Research Medical Center, started in March. Today, we can finally realize our efforts."

Hospital officials said workers overall believed the union did not represent their best interests and that wage increases for union-represented workers often came later than for those not represented by SEIU. Hospital officials said union-represented workers did not receive their 2020 wage increases until 2021 because of nearly a yearlong bargaining process between Research Medical Center and SEIU.

But employees who supported keeping the union argued that the hospital's owner, Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare, does not have the best interests of employees in mind, according to Fox affiliate WDAF.

"HCA executives should not waste precious healthcare dollars and resources on efforts to reduce union membership across their hospitals in Kansas City or beyond," Ernesta Reese, a pharmacy employee at Research Medical Center, said in a statement shared with Becker's. "Such strategies by HCA have failed at countless facilities as healthcare workers continue to stand united in our union."

Ms. Reese said HCA executives should be investing resources in patient care and that HCA management at Research Medical Center have engaged in "a number of union-busting efforts aimed at misleading and intimidating front-line healthcare heroes at a time when healthcare companies should be lifting workers up, not attacking and undermining their voices and their rights."

She said she and other colleagues plan to file serious legal objections against HCA's conduct during the election.

Research Medical Center is part of HCA Healthcare's Midwest division, which includes nine other hospitals in Kansas City and surrounding areas.

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