St. Paul, MN – An Administrative Law Judge has ruled in favor of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota and Minnesota Nurses Association for joint Unfair Labor Practices the two unions filed against North Memorial Medical Center. The ruling, on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board, found the Robbinsdale hospital unlawfully infringed on protected concerted activity by union members and union representatives.
As part of the sweeping ruling, North Memorial was ordered to reinstate Melvin Anderson, a SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Executive Board member and worker in the Sterile Processing Unit at North Memorial, who was fired after a June 24, 2014 informational picket outside of the hospital. As part of the ruling, Anderson will be “made whole” by receiving back pay for all of his time lost over the last year.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley praised the ruling and commended Anderson for not giving up in the fight for safe patient standards in hospitals across the state.
“I am incredibly happy that the Administrative Law Judge corrected the wrong that North Memorial committed by firing Melvin for Union activity. By giving him his job back and paying back pay for the time they took from him, this ruling shows that workers can stand up for what is right for patients and workers and not have to fear for their job,” said Gulley. “Melvin, and all of the members of SEIU and MNA who continue to stand up for patient safety, should take pride that this ruling only reinforces their fight.”
As part of the extensive ruling (full list of the orders for North Memorial are at the bottom), the judge found that Union staff are entitled to have conversations in public areas and may not be intimidated or surveilled to prevent them from speaking to members. In addition, it states that union organizers cannot be banned from the property if they are not being “disruptive” nor can union members or representatives be prevented from wearing union shirts.
Per the judge’s order, North Memorial must also post the fact that they have been found to have committed these unfair labor practices and that they will halt them immediately.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 42,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota. SEIU represents more than 60,000 members across Minnesota and is a powerful voice working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans.
The following resolution was passed at the SEIU Minnesota State Council Executive Board meeting calling on Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson to drop charges against the 11 #BlackLivesMatter members who were part of the peaceful protest at the Mall of America on December 20, 2014:
Having the right to take part in peaceful, non-violent protest is an essential part of any Democracy. Throughout history, many important victories have been won because brave women and men were willing to raise their voices and push back against the status quo. Any attempts to chill free speech will harm us all.
At a time of staggering racial inequalities, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is using their voices to shine a light on structural racism in our society and the harm it causes to families: the physical, economic, emotional and spiritual damage to our sisters and brothers here in Minnesota and across the country.
The decision by Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson to prosecute protest organizers is wrong. We should be having thoughtful dialogue on how to close the painful racial inequalities that plague our communities, not spending time criminalizing peaceful protesters. We urge Sandra Johnson to do the right thing and drop the charges against these peaceful activists.
St. Paul – Faculty, staff, and students from the University of Minnesota showed up at the Capitol on Wednesday evening to talk to candidates for the U of MN Board of Regents about the importance of soliciting input from faculty and students. As Regents awaited the outcomes of their elections inside the House chamber, University faculty, staff and students gathered in the hallway under a large print-out of the University’s mission statement and made themselves available to speak with candidates. Faculty decided to invite Regents into dialogue after attending the Higher Education Committee hearing, which they felt revealed a troubling disconnect between Regent candidates and the people of the University they seek to govern.
Many in attendance stressed the U’s land grant tradition and encouraged the Regents to defend this legacy from various threats. Harry Boyte, a Senior Fellow at the Humphrey Institute, observed that the land grant tradition means that universities are “owned by the whole people” and embody the idea of democratic excellence. At the heart of this idea is “that a diverse mix of people from many different backgrounds interacting and cooperating in learning and discovery can achieve greatness that a focus on individual stars and ‘the best and the brightest’ never can accomplish.”
This land grant tradition, argued Professor Karen-Sue Taussig, means that the U is not a business but a public trust. “I have become increasingly concerned that the administration and regents treat the U like just any other business rather than recognizing the distinctive public role the university plays in creating the kind of thoughtful, well-rounded and engaged educated citizenry that is essential to maintaining a vibrant democracy.”
The need to broadly educate citizens and serve an increasingly diverse populace was another recurring theme at the event. Student Alexandra Vagac noted that the U has a responsibility to provide a quality education to students regardless of their degree path. “When private dollars flood public education we begin to see situations like that of the Chicano and Latino/a Studies Department at the U, which is consistently underfunded compared to other ‘more profitable’ departments.” Echoing this point, Professor Irene Duranczyk observed that by “closing departments that embrace diversity” and that prepare Minnesotans to thrive in an increasingly diverse global society, “we are taking another step backward, away from our mission.”
In carrying out their duties, Professor Naomi Scheman emphasized that Regents should understand that they “are entrusted with the care of the University, and fulfilling that trust requires knowing about the history and the culture of the U and the complexities of the relationships with it and with diverse communities around the state, and protecting those relationships from being defined in narrowly economic terms.”
Faculty expressed hope that the conversations at the Capitol were just the first of many conversations with Regents. “Right now it seems to me that Regents mostly sit in rooms with administrators and digest reports and Powerpoint presentations designed to present a pre-packaged narrative about what’s happening at the U,” said Professor Teri Caraway. “Regents will carry out their public responsibilities more effectively if they actively solicit input from faculty and students about what is going on at the U.”
Faculty organized this event as part of their ongoing work to build a faculty union to increase faculty and employee voice in decision-making at the University of Minnesota.
U of MN Academics United is the faculty union forming to represent faculty and professional employees at the University of Minnesota. It is affiliated with SEIU Local 284, which represents over 7,000 education workers statewide, including the recently unionized adjunct faculty at Hamline University