Union busting at Baltimore’s Ascension St. Agnes Hospital?

America’s Catholic Bishops have long published a set of Ethical and Religious Directives covering Catholic health care. The seventh of these “ERDs,” as they are known in the industry, instructs a Catholic hospital to “treat its employees respectfully and justly” including “recognition of the rights of employees to organize and bargain collectively.” So what’s the problem over at Ascension Health?

Ascension is one of the largest Catholic Health Care chains in the United States, with more than 140 hospitals and dozens of nursing homes. But whenever staff at Ascension facilities begin to seek union representation, management comes down on them like a ton of bricks. We’ve seen this repeatedly over the past few years as nurses at multiple Ascension hospitals have organized to join National Nurses United. The nurses contend that systemic understaffing in Ascension hospitals is undermining both working conditions and patient care.

Recently in this space we reported that the nurses of Ascension St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore had filed for a union representation election. Since that time, the nurses have repeatedly told Catholic Labor Network members that management has retaliated against union supporters with unfair discipline and surveillance. The union has now filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

The decision to form or join a union belongs to workers, not their employer. Both Catholic Social Teaching and US law are clear on this point. The Catholic Labor Network has addressed a letter to the Ascension CEO urging him to investigate the labor law violations at St. Agnes Hospital and ensure that local administrators are in compliance with both American law and Catholic Social Doctrine.

3 replies
  1. Jerry Blume
    Jerry Blume says:

    Hierarchy of the church can be so hypocritical. They do not practice what they preach. Jesus spoke very powerfully against hypocrites. Jesus have mercy on them as they gain strength, listening and responding to the Holy Spirit

  2. Joe Lawrence
    Joe Lawrence says:

    I’m in Baltimore and what St. Agnes is doing is outrageous. Let me know how I can help these good workers.

  3. Patrick Riley
    Patrick Riley says:

    Besides writing the CEO, write Archbishop Lori since he is the chief prelate in the area, including St. Agnes Hospital. In the writing refer to the USCCB’s directive recognizing the rights of employees to choose to be represented by a union and to bargain collectively, including with Catholic employers.

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