Mankato Mayo nurses oust union as more health care workers file for decertification

A majority of the more than 400 registered nurses at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato voted Monday to do away with union membership by decertifying the Minnesota Nurses Association. 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 and amounts to a serious setback for the MNA, according to the Minnesota Reformer.

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.

The decision to sever ties with the Minnesota Nurses Association, which represents about 22,000 nurses, comes more than seven decades after nurses first unionized the Mankato hospital, long before it was taken over by the Mayo Clinic.

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.”

 A union advocate who works as a nurse in the Mankato Mayo system criticized Right to Work’s involvement in the MNA’s defeat.

“As outside anti-worker forces set their sights on other healthcare workers in our state, it is more important than ever that nurses stand together with other workers, patients, and our community to hold corporate power accountable to local interests,” Tammie Fromm, a registered nurse, said in a statement.

In fact, health care technical and clerical workers in separate bargaining units at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in north central Minnesota have also recently filed to hold separate decertification elections to pull out of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The campaign organizers also turned to National Right to Work for assistance, according to the group’s news release.

Minnesota is not a Right to Work state, meaning all workers in a unionized workplace can legally be required to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of getting or keeping their jobs. If the bargaining unit workers vote to decertify, SEIU union officials will be stripped of their monopoly “representation” powers used to impose forced union dues or fees.

The dates for the two union decertification elections for Cuyuna health care system workers will likely be set a meeting in early August.