Employees at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri this week voted to end their representation by the Service Employees International Union, according to a news release issued by HCA Midwest Health, which operates the hospital.
Employees, including patient care technicians, certified nursing assistants, food and nutrition services workers, environmental services workers, imaging technologists and respiratory therapists, first filed to decertify the union in March. Employees had between May 17 and June 14 to send in mail-in ballots.
"I have worked at Research Medical Center for 10 years and love this hospital and all of my colleagues," Kelly Pirman, an imaging technologist at Research Medical Center said in a statement. "The SEIU has not represented us fairly, nor provided us the value they claim. This process, which was our choice and our voice to remove the SEIU from Research Medical Center, started in March. Today, we can finally realize our efforts."
HCA said wage increases for SEIU-represented workers often were delayed because of negotiations. The company said it look the SEIU and Research Medical Center nearly a year to finish bargaining, which delayed 2020 raises until 2021.
SEIU Healthcare Missouri Kansas member and pharmacy department worker Ernesta Reese said HCA management at Research Medical Center has used a number of union-busting efforts aimed at misleading and intimidating frontline healthcare workers.
"Healthcare workers will be filing serious legal objections against HCA's conduct during the election. We are hopeful that these results will be set aside so that the healthcare heroes at Research Medical Center can have the right to vote in an election that is free from illegal harassment and intimidation by management," Reese said in an emailed statement. "Through our union, we have won life-changing improvements to our wages and benefits, and we are confident that we will prevail if HCA executives are prevented from engaging in illegal intimidation and harassment."
Research Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Ashley McClellan said she is proud of employees for their efforts to decertify the union.
"We are grateful that our Research Medical Center colleagues have chosen to remove SEIU and work directly with our leadership team for a better future together," McClellan said.
The decertification comes at a time when healthcare workers across the country have been organizing and taking collective action to demand better protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, National Nurses United criticized HCA for its profits during 2020, saying the company should have invested the money in public health and COVID-19 safety. And, in October 2020, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West sued HCA for creating an unnecessarily dangerous work environment during the pandemic at a hospital in California.
SEIU Healthcare represents workers at more than 24 HCA facilities across the U.S.
Nashville-based HCA operates 186 hospitals and about 2,000 ambulatory sites of care, including surgery centers, freestanding ERs, urgent care centers and physician clinics in 20 states and the United Kingdom.