Nurses boot-out the union

Nurses working at Mayo Clinic Health systems vote to oust the union.

A majority of the more than 400 registered nurses at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato voted on July 26 to do away with union membership by decertifying the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA). The election outcome abruptly removes nearly half of the 950 registered nurses in the Mayo system who belong to the union from MNA’s rolls.

The vote came six weeks after a nurse filed a union decertification petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and amounts to a serious setback for the MNA. According to Minnesota Reformer’s Max Nesterak, “Nurses at the Mayo Clinic’s Mankato hospital voted 213 to 181 to decertify their union on Monday in a significant blow to Minnesota’s powerful nurses’ union, and a victory for anti-union activists who have focused their efforts on health care workers.”

It’s not clear whether a single issue drove the decertification effort. The nurses behind the effort to oust the union were supported in their campaign by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a group that provides free services to workers fighting compulsory union membership.“

We are proud to have helped Mayo Clinic nurses exercise their right to free themselves of an unwanted union,” National Right to Work president Mark Mix said in a statement. “MNA union bosses should respect the result of the nurses’ vote and its clear rejection of their so-called ‘representation.’”

This was followed by nurses at another Mayo hospital in southern Minnesota voting to end union representation in their workplace. The latest decertification vote held under the auspices of the NLRB at the St. James Mayo hospital wasn’t close, with nurses deciding 15-2 to toss out the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Word of the lopsided decision came in a news release from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation that also assisted the St. James nurses in making their case. “The workers’ decertification petition was filed by registered nurse Heather Youngwirth with the NLRB Region 18 office in Minneapolis with free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.”

“While these nurses have successfully removed a union they oppose, we should not lose sight that thousands of Minnesota workers are forced to pay union dues, not because they voluntarily choose to, but because they would be fired if they don’t pay up,” commented Mix. “It is past time Minnesota joins all of its neighboring states and ensures Minnesota workers have Right to Work protections so all workers can decide for themselves whether to financially support union activities.”

Meantime, dozens of employees at two bargaining units of the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in north central Minnesota have filed for decertification votes, as well. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has a history of involvement in Minnesota, including a role in supporting the childcare providers who overwhelmingly defeated an attempt to form a statewide union in 2016.