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Latest News - November 2013

November 19, 2013
Orlando Health employees rally in support of efforts to create union
Source: WFTV.COM

Nurses and other staff from Orlando Health's eight hospitals publicly expressed concerns Tuesday during a rally.

Nurses said the hospitals' anti-union campaign is having effects on patient care, and could hurt future patients.

Employees rallied against the anti-union campaign in front of Orlando Regional Medical Center, holding signs reading,"For our patients."

There were about 50 Orlando Health employees and supporters rallying along Orange Avenue, sending a message to their managers and the public that changes to their pay are creating problems within the hospital system.

Sarah Collins is one of the nurses spearheading an effort to create a union at Orlando Health.

"We are working harder than necessary and harder than usual to make sure our patients are safe, and they're put first," said Collins.

Collins said in the Winnie Palmer neonatal intensive care unit, nurses were floating from other departments and were assigned to monitor two more babies than average overnight.

The group said pending changes to incentive pay for working undesirable shifts have forced many of their colleagues to give up night shifts for second jobs.

In one emergency room, one nurse is assigned to triage patients that come in without an ambulance.

"It's not at the point where it's dangerous but definitely staffing has changed to where nurses are expecting to do more," Dr. Phillips nurse Lynne Stakelum said.

The National Labor Relations Board filed new charges against Orlando Health for allegedly violating nurses' rights.

"We need to have an unobstructed effort to be able to organize, and we want to promote patient care. That is our main focus is promoting patient care and improving staffing," said Ann Prescot, a nurse with Orlando Health.

The group announced a safe staffing petition, calling for administrators to maintain pay to keep positions.

"I've seen them cut staff, lose nurses and make us completely disposable and make us feel like there's no need for us here; that they can grab another nurse anywhere at any time,"
ER nurse Alina Capeles said.

Hospital leaders said since this time last year, they've trimmed 1,000 full-time positions, but insist that has not impacted patient care.

Administrators said they have proof that patients haven't suffered at all.

"We have recently received our third consecutive A grade from the Leapfrog Group. We just this summer achieved magnet status with Arnold Palmer Medical Center," Kena Lewis with Orlando Health said.

Channel 9's Karla Ray learned that at least one of the employees is claiming discrimination after she decided to join the union.

Papers filed with the National Labor Relations Board have been amended after a group of employees claimed that more intense union-busting has been happening at Orlando Health.

In paperwork filed with the NLRB, it is alleged that an Orlando Health employee was "discriminated" against, and disciplined, for union-related activities.

"Administration has thwarted a lot of our efforts in becoming a group and becoming a cohesive union," said Prescot.

Prescot told Ray that administrators have held union-busting meetings with employees, and have even shown movies about the financial obligations of union members.

"This type of portrayal of what our union is, is entirely false, and so not true, that we think it is union busting," said Prescot.

But those working to form the union said they are fighting back.

"We're obviously impacting their ability to organize and that's why they're doing this," said Lewis.

Channel 9 learned that the NLRB was investigating claims that administrators had interrogated employees engaged in surveillance of employee's union activity and allegations that managers had interfered, restrained and coerced employees.

"We don't believe we've done anything wrong. We think it's our right and responsibility to provide team members about all union activity," said Lewis.

The investigation by the NLRB could take several months.

In October, the group rallied at Lake Eola, calling for the hospital to stop cuts to shift differential pay.




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