1,800 nurses at Asheville, North Carolina-based Mission Hospital will now be represented by a union, National Nurses United, as officials finished counting votes early Thursday morning. The victory is the largest at a non-union hospital in the South since 1975, and is the first private sector hospital union win ever in North Carolina. The final vote count, at 965 to 411, was a landslide in favor of the union.
The hospital is owned by the largest hospital corporation in the country, Tennessee-based HCA Healthcare. The company was previously run by Republican Rick Scott, whose ill-gotten gains from Medicare fraud helped fund his successful run in Florida for Senate. HCA has received nearly $1.5 billion in coronavirus-related CARES Act grants. HCA fiercely fought the union effort bringing in union-busting firms to intimidate nurses into voting no. Due to recent changes in election rules made by the Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board, nurses at Mission had to wait months for an election date that previously would have come in just a few weeks, giving management extra time to pressure staff.
NNU and NNOC Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, said in a statement. “At a time when nurses are in a daily battle with the deadly fight for their patients and their own lives in the era of COVID-19, they have demonstrated incomparable courage and resilience that is an inspiration to all of us.”