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Lake City Mayo Clinic nurses vote to keep union

Calling it the first such union victory at a Mayo Clinic facility, registered nurses in Lake City voted 22-5 to remain unionized defeating an attempt to decertify the Minnesota Nurses Association.

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LAKE CITY — Calling it the first such union victory at a Mayo Clinic facility, registered nurses in Lake City voted to remain unionized defeating an attempt to decertify the union.

The Minnesota Nurses Association announced the results of Thursday's vote. Of the 32 eligible nurses at the Mayo Clinic Health System facility in Lake City, 22 voted to remain with the union and five voted to decertify the union.

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The vote by secret ballot was driven by the conservative nonprofit National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which opposes organized labor.

“Lake City nurses came out as a unified front today,” said RN and union member Jackie Kuzma of the vote. “Nurses at Lake City are our union, and we are here to stay in the fight for better conditions for our coworkers and our patients. No outside organization can come between the strength of nurses standing together to defend our profession, our patients and our community.”

In the run-up to the vote, she said the nurses researched what working for Mayo Clinic without union representation would be like.

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“Everyone had their opportunity to find out information and it brought us together stronger," said Kuzma. “I’m excited to take this momentum and go into negotiations shortly.”

Negotiations are expected to begin this fall with the current contract set to expire at the end of the year.

"Following confirmation of the results by the National Labor Relations Board, we will continue to work with the MNA in good faith with the intent of reaching contract agreements acceptable to all parties," stated Mayo Clinic Senior Communications Specialist Amanda Dyslin in response to the vote.

Mayo Clinic moved into the Lake City market in 1997.

No representatives of National Right to Work were available for comment on Thursday evening. The organization describes its main mission as “to eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses through strategic litigation, public information, and education programs.”

A Lake City nurse with legal help from NRW filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Board in August that spurred the vote.

The Minnesota Nurses Association described the petition as an “attempt to strip workers’ collective bargaining rights” by “a national anti-union outfit backed up by high-powered lawyers and supported by the dark money of millionaires and billionaires trying to undermine the power of workers.”

A similar petition brought by National Right to Work at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato was successful in July with 213 nurses voting to withdraw from the union and 181 nurses supporting the union.

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Brittany Burgess, nurse and step-daughter of Minnesota billionaire Glen Taylor, filed the union decertification petition in Mankato. Taylor has publicly stated that he does not want his own employees to be in unions, including those with the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.

The next step after the vote is for all parties to wait seven days for any objections to the election to be filed. If any party files an objection to overturn the results, a recasting of ballots will be held. If there are not any objections filed, the National Labor Review Board will begin the certification process.

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard Around Rochester," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. The opinions of my employer do not necessarily reflect my opinions. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.
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