Nurses at UnityPoint Health-Meriter filed charges against hospital management with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday for allegedly violating federal labor law by “engaging in harassment and threats,” the union representing the nurses said.
The nurses claim the hospital is “wasting resources on an intimidation campaign rather than addressing their urgent concerns” as contract negotiations between nurses and hospital management continue, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin said.
The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal government agency that enforces federal labor law.
Nurses with the union also said they are “concerned” the hospital’s resources are not being properly prioritized for bedside nurses and their patients.
“During this brutal pandemic, we’ve put our lives and our families’ lives on the line to provide highly skilled, compassionate care to our community,” said Suzi Kossel, a registered nurse in Meriter’s newborn intensive care unit who has worked at the hospital for nine years. “Without adequate protective equipment, many of us were exposed to the virus and had to quarantine, many of us got sick, we worked long hours and extra shifts, and we are facing utter exhaustion, PTSD and burnout.”
In a statement responding to the charges, Meriter said the “allegations are surprising and untrue. We have not been provided any specifics regarding these allegations and are working to learn more about this filing.”
Nurses have been negotiating with management for stipulations including more time off, a bigger role in decision-making and more protection during health emergencies.
Meriter also said Friday the hospital has provided the nurses’ union with another proposed contract and was “hopeful” the two parties could reach an agreement and avoid a potential strike after hospital management was reportedly notified nurses may go on strike as of Wednesday. The latest proposal included more time off, an average pay increase of 3.7% in 2021 and 3.8% in 2022, and additional job protection during parental leave, Meriter said.