More Mayo Clinic nurses file for vote to dump union

Photo: National Right to Work Foundation

There’s a trend cropping up among nurses under union representation in the Mayo Clinic Health System. Nurses at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin just became the fourth collective bargaining unit at a Mayo location in the last 18 months to muster support for a vote to remove the union.

Most of the 72 medical assistants, practical nurses and patient care specialists at the Austin facility signed a petition to hold a decertification election, according to the National Right to Work Foundation that’s supporting them.

A patient care specialist at the Mayo Clinic location in Austin, MN, has just submitted to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) a petition backed by her colleagues seeking a vote to remove United Steelworkers (USW) Local 11-005 union officials from power at their facility. The patient care specialist, Erin Krulish, filed the petition with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law, which includes administering elections to install (or “certify”) and remove (or “decertify”) unions. Under NLRB rules, a union decertification petition must contain the signatures of at least 30% of the employees at a workplace to trigger a decertification election.

The action to move forward with a decertification election comes a year after a majority of Austin nurses first voted to deauthorize the United Steelworkers from siphoning union dues from their paychecks. But a technicality kept them from following through until now.

Even after a deauthorization vote, union bosses still retain their monopoly bargaining powers, which can only be eliminated by decertifying a union. Krulish and her fellow employees desired to do this from the outset, but were unfortunately limited by a non-statutory NLRB policy known as the “contract bar,” which immunizes unions from all worker attempts to vote the union out for up to three years while a union monopoly bargaining contract is in place.

Last December, with one year still left on the union contract, Krulish expressed her and her coworkers’ eagerness to decertify the union once the contract expired: “We plan to decertify come next December when our contract is up and we are ready for another fight!”

Mayo Clinic issued a carefully worded, yet familiar refrain in a statement to the Post Bulletin.

Mayo Clinic said its health system in Austin “has learned that more than 50 employees have signed a petition seeking a vote on the removal of the United Steelworkers (USW) union. This is a staff-led effort. We are grateful for the confidence the petitioners have in Mayo Clinic Health System.”

Nearly 75 percent of the Austin medical workers voted to deauthorize the union a year ago, a margin that will be challenging for the union to overcome.

“The anti-union effort in at Mayo’s Austin Clinic is yet another example of an outside organization inserting itself in an attempt to strip workers of their power,” Cathy Drummond, director of USW District 11, said in a statement. “This group has a clear agenda: to turn workers against each other and ultimately deprive them of their ability to bargain strong contracts. Our union remains committed to empowering all workers in their fight for fair wages and safe working conditions.”

In 2022, nurses at Mayo Clinic Health System locations in St. James and Mankato voted to remove the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union and the Minnesota Nurses Association union respectively. A decertification election at the Lake City Mayo facility fell short of ousting the MNA.