Former Detroit Medical Center employee claims firing was retaliation for union activities

Detroit Medical Center union officer Donna Stern alleges she was fired last month in retaliation for her involvement in contract negotiations. 

Here are five things to know about the issue.

1. Ms. Stern was a telemetry associate at DMC's Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, which is owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare. She seeks reinstatement.

2. In a statement to Becker's Hospital Review, Ms. Stern claims she was fired for playing a large role in unionized workers' decision to reject management's last contract offer. The contract was for approximately 800 workers at the hospital, who are members of local units under the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees or the Service Employees International Union. 

3. Ms. Stern, an officer with AFSCME Local 140, contends her public discussion of various hospital issues also contributed to her firing. "Management has retaliated against Ms. Stern also because she openly talked to the press about the crisis in sterile processing a year ago, the recent reorganization of dietary this past November and about the negative effects of cutbacks on patient care," her statement reads.

4. Hospital officials did not verify Ms. Stern’s claims about why she was fired. DMC spokesperson John Truscott said in a statement to Becker's Hospital Review: "We can't get into details about HR matters such as this, but as a rule, the Detroit Medical Center does not tolerate behavior from any employee that jeopardizes patient care and activity that is not protected under the law." 

5. Ms. Stern contends she may continue her role as a union officer and run in upcoming AFSCME Local 140 elections. However, the hospital contends her continued union leadership role is forbidden per a joint operating agreement.


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