Holy Cross Nurses Rally To Stir Support For Unionization

Organizers expect Monday morning event at Silver Spring hospital to draw about 100 demonstrators


Published:

Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring

Via Holy Cross Health

In a push to unionize, a group of nurses at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring held a Monday rally to voice workplace grievances and patient care concerns.

National Nurses United, the nation’s largest labor group for registered nurses, claimed in a press release issued Friday that Holy Cross employees have faced backlash for trying to form a union. The release also states nurses are worried about the quality of care at the Catholic hospital established in 1963.

“What organizing will do for us is to give nurses a voice, a voice for our patients,” said Nina Scott, a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The hospital’s leadership, on the other hand, argues the formation of a labor union could compromise positive communication between staff members.

“We respect our employees’ rights to explore associations with third-party organizations,” hospital spokeswoman Yolanda Gaskins said in a statement. “However, we also have significant concerns that the involvement of any third-party organization in our workplace could disrupt the open and collaborative workplace we have long worked to maintain.”

And some nurses have spoken out against unionization. In a letter published this week in the Washington Examiner, nurse Sheila Vicenzi argued that creating a union wouldn’t guarantee better patient care and could create hostility in the workplace. She said National Nurses United has coordinated an “aggressive organizing drive” at Holy Cross, but wrote that many of her colleagues are “tired of the constant union agitation at our fine hospital.”

Scott said she has spent 26 years at the hospital and doesn’t like the changes she’s seen since the institution's umbrella group, Holy Cross Health, became part of Trinity Health in 2013. Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system based in Michigan.

To hold a union election, the effort’s backers would have to send the National Labor Relations Board a petition signed by at least 30 percent of the hospital’s nurses. Scott said union supporters want to surpass this minimum threshold and are holding the rally to help them reach their target.

The demonstration began at 9:30 a.m. outside the hospital at 1500 Forest Glen Road, according to the press release. A National Nurses United spokesman said about 200 nurses, county residents, clergy members and officials participated.

Since she got behind the unionization push about a year ago, Scott said she believes her movements at work are under constant observation. In a case filed last year with the NLRB, National Nurses United accused the hospital of surveillance, coercion and changing the terms and conditions of employment, according to online records. The case hasn’t yet been resolved, the records show.

Holy Cross Health, a nonprofit network that includes hospitals in Silver Spring and Germantown, employs more than 4,200 people and serves more than 248,000 patients annually. It has received the Workplace Excellence Seal of Approval from the Alliance for Workplace Excellence – a nonprofit group formed in Montgomery County to recognize positive work environments – every year since 1999.

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