S.L. Regional nurses would be first group in Utah to join union organization
Nurses at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center will vote to decide whether to join the United American Nurses union.
The National Labor Relations Board office in Denver may rule as early as this week on a Feb. 1 petition for an election.
More than two-thirds of the hospital's registered nurses signed the petition, said Ron Harleman, the UAN's regional organizing coordinator.
If Salt Lake Regional's nurses join the union, it will be a first for the state, Harleman said. The UAN, the largest registered nursing union in the country with more than 100,000 members, has no Utah chapters.
The issue before the NLRB is the union's request that 150 nurses be allowed to vote in the election, and the insistence by Salt Lake Regional and its owner, Iasis Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn., that 75 of them be excluded because they are "charge nurses" with supervisory duties.
Harleman said another bone of contention is whether nurses contracted by Salt Lake Regional from outside temporary nursing agencies should be included in the vote.
The union opposes their inclusion, saying only directly employed full- and regular part-time nurses should cast ballots.
"We respect the rights of our employees to organize; however, we believe that every eligible individual should have the opportunity to vote on this very important decision through a secret ballot election process," said Dewey Greene, Iasis division president for Utah.
Greene said he hopes nurses vote down union affiliation. "We do not believe a union is in the best interest of our employees, patients and physicians. Unions present the potential to create a third-party adversarial relationship" Greene said.
Lori Gay, an intensive care unit nurse and a member of the organizing committee at Salt Lake Regional, said nurses are committed to excellence in caregiving.
"There is a lack of professional respect and involvement in management decisions. We just want a voice," Gay said.