RALEIGH – North Carolina is what you’d call a ‘Right to Work’ state, meaning that unions have a hard time gaining a foothold in the Old North State. Despite the rhetoric of the Left, that’s good for workers and the public at large because it protects individual rights and keeps the nefarious leverage of collective bargaining and debilitating strikes at bay.
That could change quickly, though, warns Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation. In a great piece for the Carolina Journal, Gray outlines efforts to unionize the nurses of Mission Hospital, a critical western North Carolina healthcare asset that was bought by hospital hegemon HCA in 2019.
Even though the Pandemic Panic threw a wrench in their plans, Gray gives the background on this unionization effort and demonstrates just how quickly it could happen. And spread.
From the Carolina Journal:
“In February 2019, after months of negotiation, Western North Carolina’s Mission Hospital was sold to HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital company. HCA Healthcare owns 184 hospitals across the U.S. and United Kingdom. Mission is its first hospital in North Carolina.
After the sale, complaints from residents were filed in the attorney general’s office, and, on Feb. 25, Josh Stein sent a letter to HCA outlining concerns. Two days later, in a speech in Winston–Salem, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told the crowd that “2,000 nurses at Mission Health in Asheville are standing up for their patients and their profession.” Mission nurses were organizing with National Nurses United, the nation’s largest nurses’ union, which is organized in 19 of HCA facilities across the country. Thirty-seven of HCA’s 184 hospitals have a union presence.
On March 6, NNU announced it was petitioning the National Labor Relations Board for a union election at Mission Hospital and, if successful, union members will have collective–bargaining privileges over benefits and working conditions, while taking choice from workers. The pandemic hit, and the union election was postponed, enabling Mission’s staff to focus on COVID-19 safety measures, preparation, and patient care.
But, after four months, NNU was ready to move forward again and began organizing efforts among Mission’s nursing staff. [CONTINUE READING]“