Catholic labor group criticizes Trinity Health after NLRB ruling

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A national Catholic group on Thursday expressed their concerns in a letter to the head of Trinity Health of New England about an unlawful retaliation against two nurses at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield. 

According to the Catholic Labor Network, which focuses on social justice and supporting workers, Mercy Medical Center violated federal law that protects employees when they engage in union activity by reporting two nurses to the Board of Registration in Nursing. This comes as nurses at Mercy Medical Center are in the midst of contract negotiations. 

In the letter to Trinity’s CEO, the group’s Dr. Reginald Eadie, said they were “deeply concerned” about the unlawful retaliation, stating that “Catholic healthcare institutions like Trinity must treat employees respectfully and justly.” 

“The right to organize and bargain collectively is foundational once in modern Catholic Social Teaching, dating back to Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Rerum Novarum,” Clayton Synai, president of the Catholic Labor Network, wrote in the letter to Trinity. “We deplore this incident and urge Trinity to resume bargaining in a form consistent with Ethical and Religious Directive #7…” 

In a statement to 22News, a Trinity Health spokeswoman said the hospital does not comment on details related to confidential employment matters:

We acknowledge that contract negotiations with the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) have been prolonged. Both sides have filed charges against one another. While we are not in agreement with the MNA’s representation of what happened with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) board and their ruling, as a matter of privacy to our colleagues, we do not comment on details related to confidential employment matters. 

We are working collaboratively with the MNA on contract negotiations and are committed to finding an agreement on a fair and equitable contract for all of our nurses. Not only is this good faith bargaining, but it is what our mission calls us to do.   We believe every nurse provides a valuable contribution to the quality care we provide to our patients and to our community. We will continue to advocate in the best interest of all our nurses. 

Trinity Health Of New England

22News obtained the formal notice from the National Labor Relations Board, dated May 18, 2021. The Labor Board sided with the MNA and last week, issued a notice to employees advising them of a settlement reached with Trinity and advised employees of their rights to union activity. 

According to Trinity Health, contract negotiations remain ongoing, and they are committed to finding an agreement on a fair and equitable contract for their nurses. 

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