Nurses at HCA Healthcare’s Mission Health system in Asheville, N.C., have voted to join the National Nurses Organizing Committee, an affiliate of National Nurses United, the Citizen Times reported.
Ballots were sent to nurses Aug. 18, and National Labor Relations Board officials began counting votes on Sept. 16 in the secret-ballot election.
After votes were counted, NLRB agent Ingrid Jenkins announced 965 votes in favor of unionization and 411 votes against it, according to the Citizen Times. One hundred ballots were challenged.
The vote comes months after nurses petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for a union election in March.
In a union news release cited by the publication, Mission nurse Lesley Bruce said: “We’re all thrilled that we’ve finally won. This victory means we can use our collective voice to advocate for patient safety and safer staffing. I can’t wait to see what improvement we’ll win together.”
The union also reportedly called the election the largest union victory at a hospital in the southern part of the U.S. since 1975.
Mission Health, which was acquired by Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare in 2019, is a seven-hospital health system with more than 12,000 employees. Its service area covers 18 counties in Western North Carolina.
In a statement shared with Becker’s Hospital Review, Nancy Lindell, spokesperson for Mission Health/HCA Healthcare North Carolina Division, said Mission Health is grateful for nurses’ work and dedication during the pandemic, and respects their right to decide whether to unionize.
“We value our nurses and the exceptional care they provide. We will continue to focus on our mission to care for the communities of Western North Carolina,” her statement says.
Moving forward, Ms. Lindell said, the hospital will examine the election process and how the election was conducted.
“The NLRB’s process allows both parties time to review the election and the conduct of the parties prior to the election; the hospital may utilize that process to ensure that all of our nurses had the fair election that they deserve,” she added.
Once the NLRB certifies the election, HCA and NNU will negotiate a contract covering around 1,600 registered nurses at Mission Hospital and the St. Joseph campus in Asheville, according to the Citizen Times.
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