Mayo’s Christmas Lockout of Albert Lea Workers Deemed Illegal by Region 18 of the National Labor Relations Board

Albert Lea, Minn – Region 18 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found merit to the Union’s charge that Mayo illegally locked out employees over Christmas. (ruling attached) The union based its charge about the Mayo Albert Lea Christmas Lockout on the fact that, despite saying they were locking out over 80 workers because they needed to ‘honor contracts’ for replacement workers, Mayo in fact hired only a handful of workers – most of whom quit before the week was over. This left large chunks of essential work undone while Mayo locked out dedicated employees with decades of experience following the group’s 1-day strike, the first in the history of Mayo. The Christmas Lockout was the first time that healthcare workers had been locked out at Mayo and in Minnesota’s history.

Mayo_collage_rsHeather Olson, who has worked for 12 years as a housekeeper at Mayo and was one of the workers locked out, expressed frustration at Mayo for their continued mistreatment of Albert Lea families. 

“In December, with our one-day strike after a year of Mayo refusing to negotiate in good faith, we took a unified stand for what we know is right: good jobs for dedicated employees and quality healthcare for rural Minnesota. It was incredibly frustrating to be locked out over Christmas, and it is even more maddening in light of this news. Workers with decades of service to Mayo and our patients deserve better. Our whole community deserves better,” said Olson. “Enough is enough. It is time for Mayo to come to the table and actually negotiate with us, not just threaten to take away our benefits and then lock us out when we stand up for what is right. It was wrong then, and looks even worse with this news about news about their evidently illegal actions.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley expressed the anger many in the state are feeling at Mayo’s continued priority of profits over Minnesota families.

“We are pleased that Region 18 of the NLRB agrees with the union that that Mayo’s Christmas lockout was never about ‘safe patient care,’ like Mayo said, but about punishing workers who stood up to Mayo executives in the fight for good jobs and quality rural healthcare. This behavior from Mayo executives, putting profits and their own power over basic respect for people in the community, is at the heart of why workers had to stand up and fight for good jobs and quality rural healthcare. Mayo used to stand for something. It is hard to see their actions over the last two years and associate them with anything other than greed. The Albert Lea community deserves better than this,” said Gulley. “We hope that this case will finally be a wake-up call to Mayo to do what is right and show respect to their workers, patients and community.”

If Mayo doesn’t settle the complaint now being prosecuted by NLRB attorneys, the next step will be a trial where all of the workers who were locked out could possibly win back pay for being illegally locked out. In addition to finding that Mayo did an illegal lockout of employees, Region 18 of the NLRB also found Mayo has engaged in ‘bad faith’ bargaining with employees who have been without contracts for over a year, has failed to bargain about safe staffing levels that currently cause maintenance workers to do possibly dangerous work alone, and has refused to provide necessary information to the Union as required during bargaining. The rulings came just weeks after NLRB charges Mayo filed against SEIU were dismissed.

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