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Federal shutdown foils Bellevue nurses trying to set unionization vote

Friday, October 11, 2013
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On Friday afternoon, Registered Nurses from Bellevue Woman’s Center, (a service of Ellis Medicine) enter the Leo O'Brien Federal Building in Albany to ask the federal government to conduct a union representation election.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
On Friday afternoon, Registered Nurses from Bellevue Woman’s Center, (a service of Ellis Medicine) enter the Leo O'Brien Federal Building in Albany to ask the federal government to conduct a union representation election.

— Bellevue Woman’s Center nurses are ready to meet with management at Ellis Medicine again after an attempt to schedule a vote on unionizing proved fruitless.

On Friday, a group of nurses stopped by the Albany office of the National Labor Relations Board, where normally they could request and schedule a secret ballot election, only to find the office closed due to the government shutdown.

The nurses wish to unionize, and were told by Ellis CEO Jim Connolly earlier this week that he would respect their wishes if they voted to organize through a secret ballot election process, which keeps each person’s vote secret to ensure no one faces intimidation or peer pressure. He refused to recognize a petition signed by 105 of 125 nurses at the Bellevue Woman’s Center, nurses said.

“There are many alternate ways to conduct a secret ballot union election and we are ready to sit down with Ellis management to talk about how we can make that happen,” said Dan Lutz, a spokesman for New York State Nurses Association, the largest association for nurses in the state. “The Bellevue RNs want to have a vote this month. Who knows when the shutdown will end? The mess in Washington shouldn’t delay this vote.”

Christine Walthers, a Bellevue nurse who has been heavily involved in the effort to unionize, said Thursday that she was unsure why Connolly requested this particular process for nurses to gain union recognition.

A spokesman for the Schenectady-based hospital system could not be reached for comment.

 
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