Registered nurses at Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore voted late last week to join National Nurses United.

This marks the first time nurses in Baltimore have unionized at a private hospital, the union said Saturday.

“This victory is a big win for our patients and for all of Baltimore, and we achieved it despite the Ascension administration’s relentless efforts to undermine our legal rights to form a union, which are currently under federal investigation,” Kimmy Rider, a nurse at Saint Agnes, said in a statement.

Earlier this fall, National Nurses United filed an unfair labor practice against the hospital, alleging management was making threats and unlawfully stifling the union campaign. Nurses at the hospital originally filed for union representation over the summer. When the complaint was filed, a representative for Ascension Saint Agnes said it was acting in accordance with the law. A representative for National Nurses United said the case is still being investigated.

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In an emailed statement, Justin Blome, a spokesman for the hospital, said 223 out of 522 eligible nurses voted in favor of the union and said the hospital would honor the certified outcome of the union vote. The statement did not say how many nurses took part in the election, however.

“[W]e are committed to working together with all of our associates as we continue to focus on what is most important — caring for our patients — and look forward to coming together around this common goal,” Blome wrote.

Once the election is certified by the National Labor Relations Board, Ascension Saint Agnes will be required to negotiate with the union and bargain on a contract. National Nurses United said the nurses at the hospital will elect a team to represent them in the negotiations.

The nurses union said Saint Agnes is the fourth Ascension-owned hospital to unionize within the last 13 months. Registered nurses at the hospital said they pursued unionization largely to address what they called a “staffing crisis” at the hospital.

In October, Sally Yoo, a nurse at Saint Agnes who is part of the union’s organizing committee, told The Banner the hospital has trouble recruiting and retaining nurses.

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“We believe coming together as a team can make us stronger and a more powerful voice,” she said in an interview last month.

cody.boteler@thebaltimorebanner.com

Cody Boteler is the author of The Scan, the Banner's weekday newsletter. He's previously worked at The Baltimore Sun and Industry, and his work has appeared in Baltimore Magazine, USA TODAY and other outlets. 

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