Union, Mayo to appear before judge regarding December strike

Published 8:13 am Friday, March 30, 2018

The National Labor Relations Board has reportedly found merit to charges by the Service Employees International Union that Mayo Clinic Health System illegally locked out Albert Lea hospital workers over Christmas.

The board announced Monday the union and Mayo will present their sides before an administrative law judge in a hearing slated for July 30 in Minneapolis.

Notice of the hearing concerned the one-day strike approximately 80 SEIU members at the Albert Lea hospital went on in December. The strike was the result of a conflict based on a union objection to a clause that union benefits could change in accordance with a change in benefits for non-union employees. Though the strike was only for one day, Mayo required the workers to miss at least one week of work due to one-week contracts the hospital system said it had to sign with replacement workers.

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The labor board said Mayo utilized “temporary employees from referral agencies to perform bargaining unit work in excess of hours required by agreements with the referral agencies,” and failed “to permit striking employees to return to their former positions when no individuals were performing that work.”

In an email, Mayo Clinic Spokeswoman Ginger Plumbo called the SEIU statement “deliberately misleading.”

“The notice issued by the local office of the National Labor Relations Board does not make any judgment about Mayo’s handling of the December strike,” she said. “A hearing has been set before an administrative law judge in July, where both sides will present their case.

“Last year, a similar hearing before an administrative law judge resulted in all the union’s claims being dismissed, and a ruling that Mayo has continually negotiated in good faith.

“We anticipate a similar outcome in this situation.”

In a press release, SEIU disputed Mayo’s statement.

“Mayo in fact hired only a handful of workers — most of whom quit before the week was over,” the release stated. “This left large chunks of essential work undone while Mayo locked out dedicated employees with decades of experience following the group’s one-day strike, the first in the history of Mayo.

“The Christmas lockout was the first time that health care workers had been locked out at Mayo and in Minnesota’s history.”

The board found Mayo Clinic Health System has refused to bargain collectively with the union on a number of topics since Dec. 12

According to the SEIU, if Mayo does not settle the complaint being prosecuted by NLRB lawyers, workers who were locked out could win back pay.


About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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