Racial Discrimination and Harassment of MNA Staff and Representatives at North Memorial Health Hospital

The following letter was sent to North Memorial Health Hospital by the MNA Negotiation Teams after a member of MNA staff was discriminated against and harassed while conducting official union business:

On August 12, 2022, the MNA North Memorial Health Hospital Negotiation Team and MNA Co-Chairs, with the support of their MNA Staff, were conducting official Union business in the cafeteria of North Memorial Health Hospital. These Union activities serve a critical purpose to our Union and ensure the democratic participation of over 1,000 Nurses at NMHH as we prepare for a historic strike involving 15,000 Registered Nurses across Minnesota.

While conducting official Union business, one of our MNA Staff, Isuru Herath, was approached by NMHH security staff in the presence of our elected Union leadership and members. Within 30 minutes of Isuru’s arrival, two security officers, including a security supervisor, approached to notify the Union of their “concerns” about the flyers. They also alluded to complaints of our MNA Staff being “aggressive” towards other visitors and loudly screaming “profanity” in public. After these initial allegations, they came by twice with three more officers.

These overt intimidation tactics reveal the hypocrisy of North Memorial Health’s priorities and raise fundamental questions about its operations. For months, the Union has advocated for improving workplace violence, especially with increasing reports of weapons and guns on the hospital floor and in NMHH emergency rooms. Unfortunately, these reports have been disregarded when the Nurses have raised their concerns. It is unconscionable that when legal representatives of MNA conducted federally protected activity, it was met with an immediate response. This incident on August 12, 2022, illustrates the racial undertones and disregard for all visitors to NMHH.

MNA Organizer Isuru Herath conducted themselves professionally and their alleged behavior is undoubtedly antithetical to how our MNA Staff conduct their work. It is troubling that NMHH has allowed these allegations of “aggressive” behavior and “harassment” to continue while not recognizing the racial undertones implied in these words. They are untruthful and further encourage and incite violence against MNA Staff and Representatives and sets precedent for future legally protected activities, especially when conducted by MNA Staff of Color. If this is how NMHH treats legal representatives of the Union, we can only imagine how the hospital treats its workers of Color and patients behind closed doors. This is especially concerning because NMHH serves one of the most diverse communities in this region.

This incident provides further justification to MNA proposals that would improve the standards for Nurses of Color in the Union and provides an additional equitable framework that strengthens our priority to advance racial justice and equity in our collective bargaining agreements. Unfortunately, nearly all the Metro Hospitals under the guidance of the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) have failed to implement and reach an agreement on these issues since negotiations started in March 2022.

We are publicly bringing this issue forward because there have been increasing reports of MNA members of Color experiencing racial discrimination and harassment as they conduct the duties of the Union. MNA respects the integrity of the bargaining process and recognizes the difficulty placed on both parties during these times.

However, under these extenuating circumstances, we will not tolerate any level of racial injustice and violation of civil rights. It is not lost on us that only our MNA Staff of Color are treated in such regard, while other interactions with other MNA Staff have gone without incident. This infringement of Union rights is not conducive to a successful outcome of the bargaining process.

We also recognize this is not an isolated event. These racialized incidents taking place at NMHH are an illustration of a larger systemic issue in corporate healthcare. Exacerbated by healthcare executives’ efforts to maximize profits over patients, MNA has increasingly seen regional healthcare systems closing hospitals in areas where quality care is most needed. From the impending closure of Children’s Hospital PICU in St. Paul to the reduction in services and eventual closure of St. Joseph’s Hospital as part of M Health Fairview’s plan to expand their regional operations in the Twin Cities. These profit-driven business decisions compound the racial disparities maintained in the healthcare system. These decisions will further impact and maintain racist institutional practices, adding to existing racial and economic disparities within our state.

We will not hesitate to seek further remedies to address these issues and to inform the broader community about North Memorial Health’s disregard for ensuring the safety of its patients and community.

We call for immediate recognition and adoption of policies that will reduce these issues of racial bias and harassment from occurring in the future at the bargaining table.

Sincerely,

Minnesota Nurses Association Negotiation Teams

 

7 Comments

  1. MNA should be able to stand and and participate without harrahment or racism!

  2. If your allegations of harassment and agressive behavior from the security staff of this particular hospital are true then shame on them but if the union representatives were indeed doing the accused acts then shame on you for not getting the facts straight. Accusations of harassment and agessive behavior are not racist in nature but descriptions of a certain type of behavior. To bad the mna officials are more concerned with finding racism under every rock and not concerned with getting all the facts. But it’s mna leadership so what do you expect!
    Sincerely
    The old RN

  3. I support the actions of MNA staff while conducting union business at North Memorial Hospital.

    There’s no excuse in any public establishment for harassment, intimidation and racial bias towards staff, patients or visitors.

    What message did this send to visitors in the dining area who witnessed the actions against a gentleman of color?

    As nurses, we practice and exemplify the tenets of cultural competence and respect for those individuals differing from our own culture.

    I sincerely pray this abhorrent display of ignorance at North Memorial Hospital is fully investigated by MNA in addition to the NAACP and ACLU.

    (The NAACP and ACLU may be strong advocates upon which MNA could request support and guidance in the future.)

  4. I agree, investigate, get the facts and then come to a conclusion. But,as usual, the liberal bunch known as the leadership of the mna will jump at the chance to cry racism before the investigation is complete. So predictable and so pathetic.
    Sincerely
    The old RN

  5. If the policy of the health care system prohibits any employee, including security guards, from engaging in racist conduct, have the security guards been fired?

  6. Burt – get your facts straight.

  7. Addressing Burt’s comment:

    “If your allegations of harassment and agressive behavior from the security staff of this particular hospital are true then shame on them…”

    Are you questioning the validity of the reported and witnessed account?

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