Ann Arbor Elected Officials and Community Leaders Call on Trinity Health to Reinstate Lab Workers It Fired for Advocating for Quality Services, Safer Working Environment
- Trinity Health fired 13 laboratory workers after they protested the loss of a frontline manager
- Fired workers have filed federal Unfair Labor Practice charges against Trinity
- Trinity’s retaliation out of step with rising public opposition to corporate interference with worker organizing
Ann Arbor, Mich. – Eleven workers from Trinity Health Outpatient Laboratories were terminated Monday following months of advocating for safer working conditions. Thursday, workers had learned that their clinical supervisor was ordered to go through their belongings because of their union support and they believed she was terminated for refusing to do so. After working for months in a continuously stressful environment that included multiple safety concerns, many staff reached an emotional breaking point Thursday and followed the normal procedures to take a day for themselves and went home.
After working for months in a continually stressful environment with multiple safety concerns, lab workers reached an emotional breaking point March 9.
“After months of advocating for safer working conditions and safe staffing with no response from the Trinity administration, we were heartbroken when it was communicated that the only manager who was also advocating for improved safety was forced to resign last Thursday after refusing to spy on our organizing efforts,” said Matthew Miller, a lab tech. “For us this was a tipping point. Trinity had been disregarding our safety for far too long. In the last few months they had been pulling us from our work to hold us in meetings about how horrible unions are, putting profits over the safety of employees and patients. ”
Trinity first prevented the workers from returning to work on Friday, then on Monday fired 13 of the workers who bravely stood up together in solidarity for what they believed in. Trinity’s decision forced two labs already short staffed to close.
The workers are organizing with SEIU Healthcare Michigan, which filed a complaint about surveillance of the workers with the National Labor Relations Board.
Last week, elected officials and labor leaders expressed their support for the lab workers when they were prevented from returning to work on Friday.
State Rep. Carrie Rheingans (D-Ann Arbor): “I’ve long admired Trinity Health’s dedication to their patients, staff, and community through my past work with them on rolling out the Affordable Care Act and community benefit activities. In my recent talks with them, other hospital and healthcare organizations, staff safety is at the top of their concerns, and I’m very worried about this too. I’m hoping these workers can get back to work, where they want to be. We’re so short on staff across healthcare professions, we really need them to be able to get back to serving patients.”
Ian Robinson, president of the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO: “The labor movement in this county stands behind Trinity workers who perform vital health services every day for our community. Their safety concerns are legitimate and must be addressed. The quality of care that we as patients receive depends upon it. We call on Trinity to let these workers return to their jobs without delay or penalty. Their right to organize must be respected. It was an honor to stand with them this morning when they offered to return to work, but a shame that we had to be there. I am very disappointed that Trinity HR people would neither agree to this simple request nor listen to what workers and supporters like us had to say. The HVALF represents 18,000 union members and we support these Trinity workers 100%. We’ll be there for them if and when they need us. Treating them fairly and respecting their right to form a union are core components of the Catholic social teachings that this institution is supposed to be guided by. We call on Trinity to live up to their foundational principles and do the right thing without delay.”
Jamie Brown, RN, president of Michigan Nurses Association: “All healthcare workers should have the right to organize and speak out about safety concerns without intimidation or retaliation. We are calling on Trinity to immediately reinstate its workers and stop wasting its resources by suppressing the voice of its employees.”3