Orlando Health Deploys Anti-Union Tactics Bringing Workers Closer Together

Nurses and Respiratory Therapists from Orlando Hospitals deliver petitions to Sherrie Sitarik. (Sarah Collins second from left, Sarah Lasher, third from left)

Nurses and Respiratory Therapists from Orlando Hospitals deliver petitions to Sherrie Sitarik. (Sarah Collins second from left, Sarah Lasher, third from left)

A couple of months ago Sherrie Sitarik the CEO of Orlando Health stated that hospital worker’s differentials would be cut in an effort to save on operating costs.  In a recent interview on WFTV, Sitarik said the cut was to bring differentials more in line with other area hospitals.   This is just a corporate excuse to push workers down.

The workers are not buying it.  Sarah Lasher a nurse in one of Orlando Health’s hospitals is looking to organize the workers with National Nurses United.  NNU is one of the unions that specialize in representing workers in the medical field.   Sarah and NNU have quickly gained support from other workers at Orlando Health who are fed up with Sitarik’s race to the bottom.

As you would expect, Sitarik does not want workers to organize and form a union.  Sitarik told WFTV, “I really don’t believe we need a third party getting involved in relationships that over many years have allowed us to have the success we’ve had.”

There are two things wrong with that statement.

  1. A union is not a third party.  It is workers speaking with one voice.  The workers are the union, and the union speaks for the workers.
  2. If the relationship is so good, why is Orlando Health slashing the take home pay of workers without any discussion with the employees? If the workers were truly happy and treated well they would not be forming a union.

After the announcement that workers were in the process of forming a union, management deployed their anti-union tactics.

WFTV reports: “Eyewitness News obtained an email that suggests what hospital security officers should do if they hear nurses at Orlando Health talking about forming a union. 

The email, “Union Training for Security Officers,” was sent out by the hospital’s head of security.

In part, it instructs security officers to “immediately alert their supervisor if they see or hear any potentially inappropriate collective bargaining activity while on duty.”

Sarah Lasher told WFTV, “We’re entitled to do so, and does that mean that we’re going to have security strolling by our tables while we’re eating and listening to what we say? This concerns me.”

Sarah Collins, the creator of the original petition to stop the pay cuts told the NH Labor News, “We will not be swayed by the Organization’s anti-union pursuits. We know our rights, and we are going to fight for them.

The right to organize and form a union is protected by the National Labor Relations Act.   After nurses found out about the leaked email, they sent their own letter to CEO Sitarik notifying her of the illegal activities being conducted by her management staff.

“We appreciate your commitment to our rights and for us to have full information as we make our decisions with regards to collective bargaining.  You may not know that hospital supervisors are ordering us not to discuss forming a union or to talk about collective bargaining.  Additionally, the supervisors are confiscating and destroying our reading materials, and directing security to spy on us and report our conversations.  A good start toward respecting our rights would be for you to order that these violations be stopped.

Sarah Lasher explained in more detail how workers rights to organize are being crushed by management officials.

They have changed their solicitation policy TWICE in the past month and the new one states we are not allowed to visit our campus we work at unless we are scheduled to work, have a doctor’s appointment, or have a class. 

We have never been denied access before and that is unacceptable.”

This is contrary to what the law clearly states, that workers are allowed to organized while off-duty or on break.

Sarah Lasher did say that she spoke with some mangers from the Human Resources department.  Lasher questioned why they were not allowed on campus during off-duty times.  One manager, Michelle Radcliffe responded by asking another question. ”Why would you need to come up here if you were not working or didn’t have an appointment or class?” Lasher responded, “to put up my union posters in appropriate areas.” Radcliffe ended the conversation by stating, “well its just not safe.

It is not safe for a trained professional to walk around the campus of the hospital they work at? The truth is they do not want workers posting pro-union materials.

We have the right to organize and we are exercising that right,” said Sarah Collins.

This is why it is important to know your rights.  You have the to form a union, and collectively bargain with your employer.  These types of anti-union activities are far too common and the more people that know their rights the easier it will be to stop this type of activity.
(Click here to see your rights to form a union in your workplace)

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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