Nurses at Mayo Clinic in St. James, Minn., vote to decertify themselves from union representation

A second Mayo Clinic in Minnesota has had nurses decertify themselves from union representation in the span of a week, this time, nurses at Mayo Clinic Health System in St. James.

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ST. JAMES — For the second time in the span of a week, nurses at a Mayo Clinic Health System location have voted to decertify themselves from union representation.

On Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board announced that nurses at the Mayo Clinic in St. James met approval for decertification from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 65. Nurses at Mayo Clinic St. James voted 15-2 in favor of decertification.

Registration underway for participating schools in Dodge, Goodhue, Mower and Olmsted counties.
Craig Smoldt worked at Mayo Clinic for 50 years. He died Aug. 5, 2022, after a battle with cancer.

The petition for the decertification was led by Heather Youngwirth, a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic St. James. Youngwirth received help from the National Right to Work Legal Foundation, a conservative nonprofit that helps to break workers from union representation.

The vote was put ahead of the current contract expiration between the Mayo Clinic St. James nurses and AFSCME Council 65, which was set to expire on Aug. 21, 2022. All 17 nurses participated in the voting through mail-in balloting according to NWRL spokesperson Kylie Thomas.

Youngwirth did not respond to requests from the Post Bulletin for comment.


NWRL Kylie Thomas said the following on what drove these nurses to vote on union decertification: “These nurses clearly believe they would be better off without the union, but I’m unable to provide any more specific reasons in this instance. I can say that in other decertification efforts we’ve seen workers cite union officials ineffectiveness, mismanagement, lack of accountability, and the prioritizing of internal union interests over those of rank-and-file workers.”

AFSCME Council 65 did not respond in time of this story’s publication to a request for comment on the vote.

In a press release published today, NWRL said that the nurses voted on the basis of union officials at AFSCME wanting to end “monopoly bargaining powers at the Mayo Clinic.”

NWRL also assisted nurses at the Mayo Clinic in Mankato, who voted to decertify themselves from the Minnesota Nurses Association union.

That decertification effort was led by Brittnay Burgess, a nurse at Mayo Clinic’s Mankato campus.

NWRL is also working with other Minnesota nurses employed at the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in the Brainerd Lakes region who are seeking to decertify their membership with Services Employees International Union.

Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or
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