Union nurses at Saint Louis University Hospital (SLUH) are raising patient safety concerns. They also claim that the hospital is engaged in anti-union efforts.
A union representative reported to Saving SLU that the nurses have asked to meet with President Pestello, but that he has refused to do so to date. The nurses are circulating a petition asking President Pestello to support their call for management at SLUH to agree “to a code of conduct that is conducive to supporting high-quality patient care and education, and to a SLUH that is free from anti-union workplace intimidation.” A message from the union representative with the entire petition appears below.
Those interested in offering support to SLUH nurses may add their name to the petition:
Additional information on the dispute between SLUH and union nurses is available here:
- September 30, 2019, Labor Tribune article
- September 10, 2019 NPR article
- September 6, 2019 press release from National Nurses United
Here is a link to information on Catholic social teaching and the rights of workers.
Here is a link to ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care services from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Message from a representative of National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United
The National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United is the largest Registered Nurse Union in the nation. We represent the over 600 nurses at SLUH and we’re asking University President Fred Pestello to call on SSM Health to agree to a code of conduct that is conducive to supporting high-quality patient care and education, and to a SLUH that is free from anti-union workplace intimidation. Instead of devoting resources to patient care, SLUH is waging an aggressive anti-union campaign, trying to decertify a democratically elected union.
Support Nurses and St. Louis patients by signing the petition https://www.nationalnursesunited.org/take-action-2#/62
Dear President Pestello,
As Registered Nurses at Saint Louis University Hospital (SLUH), SLU students, and community allies we are writing to you to express our deep concerns about the patient care and labor practices of SSM Health. SLUH’s management is currently running an anti-union campaign that does not live up to the values of justice and economic equality SLU and Catholic healthcare share. The campaign further undermines the educational and patient care mission of the St. Louis University School of Medicine, upon whose campus it is being waged.
Nurses at SLUH are on the front lines of patient care. They face high rates of workplace violence, unsafe patient transport conditions, and are unable to take breaks when there is no one to relieve them. Nurses are advocating for changes to turn this situation around and secure needed resources for patients, nurses, SLUCare physicians, and all hospital workers. They have proposed safe staffing limits based on twenty years of peer-reviewed research linking nurse staffing levels to reduced patient mortality rates and other negative health outcomes.
SSM Health has refused to address these concerns or substantively respond to proposals for comprehensive staffing and safety standards. This is particularly troubling as the hospital, by many metrics, has the worst patient outcomes in the St. Louis area.
Not only is SSM Health failing to provide the quality of healthcare services that patients deserve, it is also choosing to invest its resources in a campaign to pressure nurses to remove their democratically elected union. While SSM is the primary employer, SLU and SSM are intricately intertwined. Not only are there numerous financial ties, the daily operations of the hospital are also linked. SLU School of Nursing instructors have positions of power and authority over union nurses and the SLUCare physicians are directly working with nurses every day. Faculty from the SLU School of Nursing have used mandatory class time provided for training to coerce newly hired SLUH nurses into signing a petition for the removal of their union.
We are asking for your support and leadership in our call for SSM to agree to a code of conduct that is conducive to supporting high-quality patient care and education, and to a SLUH that is free from anti-union workplace intimidation. We are troubled by the antagonism SSM Health has shown, and hope that you and your office will support St. Louis patients and workers.
Thank you in advance for your consideration, and we hope that we can work together to ensure SLUH is providing exceptional healthcare and opportunity for St. Louis residents.