April 30, 2015
By Neal Tepel
Boston, MA – The Boston City Council has formerly requested the CEOs of two major Boston hospitals allow for a free and fair union election for hospital staff at Tufts Medical Center,located in Boston. Tufts Medical Center, the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine, has more than 400 patient beds and is currently engaged in merger negotiations with Boston Medical Center.
“We would like to specifically highlight our support of the principle of free and fair elections for all non-union hospital workers,” reads a letter signed and sent by all 13 City Councilors to Tufts Medical Center CEO Dr. Michael Wagner and Boston Medical Center CEO Kate Walsh.
The letter requests that both leaders and their management teams “respect this democratic right to organize,' and commit publicly to such an agreement with 1199SEIU.
As merger talks have accelerated, an increasing number of Tufts Medical Center workers have expressed interest in joining 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the state’s largest healthcare union. Nearly 1,000 service, clerical, and technical workers at the Tufts Medical Center campus who do not currently belong to a union could be eligible to participate in a potential union vote.
A free and fair elections agreement represents a public commitment by hospital executives that they will not violate workers’ rights during an organizing drive and that they will not spend healthcare dollars and resources on campaigns that interfere with the National Labor Relations Board process. Such an agreement would outline additional protections for workers who express an interest in forming a union, including a public commitment that hospital executives and management will not retaliate against workers who support forming a union at Tufts Medical Center.
“A diverse and stable workforce is critical to ensuring access to quality, affordable healthcare,” said Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley. “As Boston Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center consider a merger, it is important that we ensure the rights of the workers employed by these hospitals. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to call for full support of the merger principles outlined by 1199SEIU and a merger agreement that allows for free and fair union organizing and elections.”