St. Mary’s respects nurses’ right to organize, hopes they won’t

The Compass received written answers through St. Mary’s Community Relations Director Jerri Cortese yesterday in regards to the hospital administration’s response to yesterday’s public announcement by a number of nurses employed at the hospital that they were seeking to unionize and join the NY State Nurses Association. Our main question was if the administration supported the unionization effort or not. The response given was:

We understand that our associates have the right to organize, or NOT to organize, and St. Mary’s will respect their decision. We hope that the majority of Registered Nurses will choose to preserve the direct working relationship between them and St. Mary’s that has served our patients and our community so well. We will continue to have ongoing dialogue directly with our associates to present them with factual information to help them make an informed decision.

We also received a statement giving an account of how the administration responded to yesterday’s request by a group of nurses to voluntarily recognize their union:

We acknowledged the union and addressed their representatives in a respectful manner, but we rejected their request for immediate recognition. Federal labor law establishes a democratic process for employees to decide whether or not they want to work in a unionized environment, and that process leads to a secret ballot election conducted by a neutral government official.

By asking St. Mary’s CEO to recognize the union, we would be effectively denying all of our Registered Nurses the right to vote on this issue in a private voting booth. With all due respect, we will not take that right away from our Registered Nurses by agreeing to waive their rights under federal law. The only appropriate mechanism for deciding this issue is through an [National Labor Relations Board] election.