Workers at Albert Lea Medical Center, still waiting for a fair contract, went to court to pursue unfair labor practice charges against Mayo Clinic.
The trial, held in Minneapolis before a Washington, D.C., administrative law judge, wrapped up last week following testimony by skilled maintenance workers at the Albert Lea hospital.
The case is the result of a Dec. 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 Albert Lea hospital.
Maintenance worker Nate Johnson testified at the trial in Minneapolis and before the NLRB General Counsel in 2016. He expressed satisfaction that the 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,” Johnson said. “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.”
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 have held two informational pickets outside of the hospital in Albert Lea to inform the public about Mayo’s conduct.
"The trial last week showed again that Mayo has lost its way,” said SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley. “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.”
The union 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.” There is no timetable for a ruling from the court and no future dates for bargaining between the Albert Lea maintenance workers and Mayo have been scheduled.