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Feds to hold hearing on allegations that Beaumont violated rights of pro-union nurses

Beaumont Health

Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak is facing a formal complaint from the National Labor Relations Board.

The complaint alleges the hospital interfered with its nurses’ right to discuss unionization in the workplace.

“And this is what we really have been saying all along,” says Philomena Kerobo, a nurse at the hospital. “They have violated and they continue to violate our rights to talk about patient care and about other issues in our workplace.”

The NLRB has scheduled a hearing on the complaint for April 13 in Detroit.

The complaint alleges that Kerobo faced discipline for taking steps to unionize the nurses at the hospital. Kerobo says she was referred to human resources, and has been challenged for talking about the union at work.

The complaint also says the hospital rewrote its employee handbook to prevent nurses from wearing buttons, or from talking to the media.

The Michigan Nurses Association filed the allegations with the NLRB last summer. The initial allegations were revised, but now include more than 20 instances in which the MNA says nurses’ rights were violated.

In a statement, Beaumont Royal Oak said the allegations are unfounded.

“Beaumont complies with federal labor law,” the hospital said in a statement it attributed to its Chief Nursing Officer, Susan Grant, RN.

“Previously, the local Detroit office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concluded there was no basis for many of the MNA’s [Michigan Nurses Association’s] allegations against Beaumont, Royal Oak,” the statement continued. “The MNA withdrew two of its three unfair labor practice charges and dropped the allegations the NLRB would have dismissed.”

The NLRB has scheduled a hearing on the allegations for 11:00 a.m. on April 13th in Detroit. That hearing will be held at the McNamara Federal Building, 477 Michigan Avenue, 5th Floor, Room 05-200.

In the meantime, nurses at Beaumont Royal Oak who support the unionization push say they will continue their campaign.

“It’s the only way we’re going to have a voice to advocate for our patients and our community and our selves,” says nurse James Williams.

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Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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