The Potluck

Second group of workers at Mayo’s Mankato hospital file petition to get rid of union

By: - May 15, 2023 2:16 pm

Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

A second group of health care workers at Mayo Clinic’s Mankato hospital is trying to decertify their union with the help of the National Right to Work Foundation, a nonprofit anti-union advocacy group.

Less than a year ago, nurses at the hospital voted to get rid of their union after more than seven decades. That effort was also backed by the National Right to Work Foundation, which has focused on reducing unions in the health care industry in recent years.

The latest decertification effort at Mayo’s Mankato hospital is led by Melody Morris, a health care unit coordinator, and would affect around 200 nursing support staff, clerical workers and environmental staff, who are unionized with AFSCME Council 65.

“AFSCME union officials do not represent the interests of me and my coworkers, and we want to serve the patients and the medical staff of this facility free from union control,” Morris said in a statement shared by the National Right to Work Foundation.

More than 50% of workers represented by AFSCME signed onto a petition to hold an election to get rid of the union, according to the National Right to Work Foundation. The petition was filed on May 9 with the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees private sector unions.

“This is just another attack by the Mayo Clinic on workers’ freedom to negotiate for safe staffing levels, fair wages, and benefits,” AFSCME Council 65 said in a statement.

The statement pointed to last-minute lobbying by the Mayo Clinic at the Capitol to kill two bills aimed at increasing nurse staffing levels and reducing health care costs.

“The timing of this makes it clear that this is a coordinated effort to silence anyone – Minnesota voters, Minnesota workers, Minnesota elected officials – that would raise concerns about safe staffing levels and fair wages for working people,” the statement said.

In a statement, Mayo Clinic said “This is a staff-led effort, and we are grateful for the confidence these individuals have in Mayo Clinic Health System.”

If the effort succeeds, just one group of about 15 maintenance engineers will be unionized at the Mankato hospital.

The National Right to Work Foundation also provided free legal assistance to workers at Mayo Clinic’s facility in St. James, who voted to sever ties with AFSCME Council 65 last August.

Two groups of workers at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, who are unionized with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa, also held decertification elections last year with help from the National Right to Work Foundation but voted to stay unionized.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Previously, he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.