Nursing support staff and others in 200-person unit demand vote to remove AFSCME union officials after nurses voted MNA union out last summer
Mankato, MN (May 12, 2023) – Less than a year after Mankato Mayo Clinic nurses voted the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) union out of the facility, Mankato Mayo nursing support staff, clerical staff, and environmental staff are undertaking a similar effort. Mankato Mayo employee Melody Morris, with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, filed a petition on May 9 asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote at the clinic on whether American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) officials should be removed.
A majority of Morris’ colleagues within the work unit under the control of AFSCME union officials supported her petition. Under NLRB rules, a union “decertification” petition containing the signatures of at least 30% of workers in a unit is enough to prompt the NLRB to administer a union decertification election.
Workers often seek free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation in exercising their right to vote out an unpopular union because the NLRB’s process for doing so is convoluted and prone to union boss gamesmanship. The right to decertify is especially important for Mankato Mayo Clinic employees and other workers across Minnesota because, due to the state’s lack of Right to Work protections, union officials can force workers under their control to pay dues as a condition of getting or keeping a job. In contrast, in Right to Work states, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.
The Foundation-backed 2020 NLRB “Election Protection Rule” curtailed the non-statutory “blocking charge” policy that union bosses used to prevent rank-and-file employees from exercising their right to vote out a union. Prior to the rule, union officials could easily manipulate such “blocking charges” to stop workers’ requested votes from taking place for months or even years by making one or multiple unproven allegations against the employer.
The “Election Protection Rule” stopped the most common blocking charge tactics used by union lawyers to stall worker-requested votes, and in most cases permitted the immediate release of the vote tally. Despite numbers showing increased worker interest in voting out unwanted union officials across the country, Biden-appointed NLRB officials in Washington have initiated rulemaking to roll back the Foundation-backed reforms, including those targeting “blocking charges.”
More and More Minnesota Healthcare Workers Dissociate from Union Officials
Morris and her colleagues’ petition comes amid a surge in interest among Minnesota healthcare employees in exercising their right to vote out union officials they oppose. In addition to Mankato Mayo Clinic nurses, nurses from Mayo’s St. James, MN, branch removed the AFSCME Council 65 union from their hospital last August with Foundation aid. Employees from four Cuyuna Regional Medical Center locations across the Brainerd Lakes region of Minnesota also sought Foundation aid in their decertification effort against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials last year.
Minnesota union officials seem unwilling to examine why growing numbers of workers want them ousted. A Minnesota Reformer profile on MNA President Mary Turner reported that Turner believes “it’s the nurses in Mankato, not the union, who need to change their approach,” and also quoted her as saying that Mankato Mayo nurses “[are] going to have to prove to us that they want the union because they lost it.”
“Minnesota healthcare workers may have any number of reasons for opposing monopoly union ‘representation’ in their workplaces: divisive union politics, inefficient work rules, or strikes that take them away from patients,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “But one thing is for certain: They are increasingly exercising their right to boot out unwanted unions, and the push from union officials and their allies at the highest levels of government to coerce and trap workers in unions shows a preference for power over worker freedom.”
“Minnesota employees who are interested in exercising their right to be free of union control should contact Foundation staff attorneys for free help in exercising their rights,” Mix added.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.