Albert Lea Hospital Workers Speak Out Following Trial Over Labor Charges Against Mayo

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota filed the unfair labor practice charge to address Mayo’s “bargaining” tactics

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The charges were found to have merit by the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel in Washington D.C. last year, resulting in this month’s Trial 

Albert Lea, MN – A trial held in Minneapolis before a Washington D.C. Administrative Law Judge wrapped up last week following testimony regarding unfair labor practice charges alleging “bad faith bargaining” against Mayo filed by Mayo Albert Lea Hospital skilled maintenance workers.

The case is the result of a December 5, 2016 determination from the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel in Washington D.C. that the charges filed against Mayo Clinic have merit. In particular, the NLRB General Counsel found that Mayo has “failed to bargain in good faith” with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota concerning the skilled maintenance employees working at the hospital in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

Albert Lea Hospital maintenance worker Nate Johnson, who testified at the trial in Minneapolis last week and has been fighting for basic respect from Mayo for the last two years — including flying to Washington D.C. to testify before the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel in 2016 about this case —  expressed satisfaction that Mayo Albert Lea workers were finally being heard.

“My coworkers and I have worked at Mayo for decades, and it is hard to believe we are fighting this hard for basic respect. I was proud to testify in front of the Administrative Law Judge and to share the frustration we feel as we simply ask for Mayo to bargain in good faith. Being able to tell our story to the judge makes me feel confident that Mayo can be held accountable,” said Johnson.

Paul Blom, who has worked at Mayo Albert Lea for 17 years, emphasized the strong unity of the workers in the bargaining unit, a majority of whom attended at least one day of the trial.

“We are all proud of the good work we do making sure the hospital stays up and running so our community has a place to go to get healthy. We aren’t asking for CEO pay, just a fair contract that supports our families and allows for these jobs to continue to be good jobs,” said Blom. “A majority of our group made the trip to Minneapolis to watch the trial because we know how important this is to the future of not just our jobs, but everyone who works in our hospital. Albert Lea, and all of southern Minnesota, have always supported Mayo, and we deserve better than the way they are treating workers, patients and our whole community.”

In the nearly two years that Mayo has refused to bargain in good faith, the maintenance workers and community supporters also have held two informational pickets outside of the hospital in Albert Lea to inform the public about Mayo’s conduct.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley said the court case getting this far shows that Mayo has lost sight of their values and respect for the longterm employees who help make the hospital one of the best in the world.

“The trial last week showed again that Mayo has lost its way. After nearly two years of this behavior, it is time for Mayo to show respect to these dedicated workers. By refusing to conduct even basic negotiations with this group, and now playing this same disrespectful game with another group of their employees, Mayo is going down a path that will harm the workers and the whole community,” said Gulley. “While Mayo pays big salaries for executives and asks for taxpayer money for their buildings, they turn around and treat people who have given their heart and soul to the organization this way. It is sad, and we hope even before a ruling comes down from the judge that Mayo comes to their senses and treats these hardworking community members with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota took out a full-page ad in the Albert Lea Tribune this week highlighting this case and calling on Mayo to do the right thing and support the workers, the patients they help serve, and the entire Albert Lea community.

There is no timetable for a ruling, and no future dates for bargaining between the Albert Lea maintenance workers and Mayo have been scheduled.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 35,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota.

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