Victory for HCMC Workers!

HCMC workers celebrate our victory in court.
HCMC workers celebrate our victory in court.

Workers at Hennepin County Medical Center pumped their fists in the air Tuesday after reaching a settlement presented in court.

The AFSCME members were seeking a temporary restraining order to restrain the employer from continuing to commit unfair labor practices.  Yesterday HCMC made a commitment in court to follow existing labor law. 

The employer also agreed to reinstate two union leaders – Local 977 president Carmen Brown and steward Marlon Gaston – to their former positions.  

“We’re going to hold the employer’s feet to the fire,” says Carmen Brown.           

“We strive for excellence and take pride in our work,” says Sara Franck, president of Local 2474.  “We treat every patient with kindness and respect.  And we expect the same in return from our employer.”

The employer’s agreement to follow the law will be posted on union bulletin boards throughout the hospital and clinics.  This public display is intended to help workers hold their employer accountable to the agreement. 

Much harm was done by the layoffs.  AFSCME will use the grievance and arbitration procedure to make workers whole for the damages they suffered.  Our goal is to force the employer to follow our union contract, which spells out a fair process for bumping, bidding and reassignments.  The first arbitration hearing is scheduled for May 4.

The brunt of the layoffs impacted older workers, mostly people of color.  AFSCME will assist those individuals if they choose to file potential discrimination claims with the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC).   

A lawsuit remains before the court on behalf of Locals 977 and 2472 in regard to employer animus against the union.

The workers thanked their attorneys and hugged each other as they left the courtroom.  They stood up together and will return to work more powerful than ever before.

“We got some justice today,” says Marlon Gaston, with a smile.