Nurses at St. Luke's Hospital in Massachusetts vote to unionize

Registered nurses at New Bedford, Mass.-based St. Luke's Hospital voted in favor of unionization on Nov. 29.

The vote covers 722 nurses, who will join the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

"We're thrilled to be coming together as a union," said Deb Falk, a nurse in the emergency department at St. Luke's. "Those of us in the emergency department always felt kind of separated from the nurses on other floors, and I've loved getting to know so many great nurses throughout the hospital during our organizing. I really feel like we're a close family now."

Nurses filed notice with the National Labor Relations Board on Nov. 2 seeking an election to unionize. Amid the unionization push, the hospital's owner, New Bedford-based Southcoast Health System, hired a labor relations consulting firm.

Southcoast spokesperson Patricia Giramma told Becker's the system hired the Burke Group "to ensure that our nurses have all of the accurate and reliable information available to make an informed decision based on the facts, including what a union can and cannot do for them."

Keith Hovan, president and CEO of Southcoast Health, called the recent vote "unfortunate" but said the system is "committed to ongoing  collaboration with our nurses to provide exceptional care and service to our patients."

The vote still must be certified. Meanwhile, Ms. Giramma said Southcoast is "committed to ensuring that the announced results are an accurate reflection of the votes cast and a fair process."

The Massachusetts Nurses Association represents 23,000 members statewide.


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