'We need someone to advocate for us': Erlanger nurse says he may start a union


A nurse at Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Erlanger Health System is considering unionization in light of recent administrative decisions he said most nurses believe were made without taking their rights into account, according to TV station WRCB.

In a letter to administration published by the station, he also contends Erlanger has hindered their ability to do their jobs safely and efficiently.

"Nurses advocate for our patients, but we now need someone to advocate for us," wrote Jeffrey Holland, LPN. "In recent months, our promised benefits have been denied us, we have been burdened with unsafe nurse/patient ratios, and nursing staff members have been wrongfully terminated. Many other nurses and techs have resigned to go find jobs elsewhere due to their feeling unvalued by Erlanger administration."

The letter asks administration to immediately return earned benefits (PTO, matched retirement, incentive pay) to nurses. It also asks Erlanger to "reevaluate the experience and track records of any nurses and techs who were terminated during this calendar year," taking the additional stress of the COVID-19 pandemic into consideration, and to reinstate as many as possible.

Mr. Holland sent the letter to administration on June 12, the same day Erlanger cut 11 leadership positions to help address financial damage from the pandemic. Erlanger also made staff and pay cuts in March, and, on June 11, approved a new two-year contract with CEO Will Jackson, MD.

In response to the nurse's letter, Erlanger officials told Becker's Hospital Review via email: "Erlanger strives to continuously listen to employees and take seriously any concerns brought forward. We are in an unending journey to improve and make Erlanger Health System the best healthcare system for our patients, our staff and our community."

Mr. Holland said he has started talking to employees about starting a union at Erlanger and contacted union organizers to help.

Read his full letter here


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