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Health

Why Did Western North Carolina Nurses Unionize?

A nurse holds up a sign saying "Safe Staffing Saves Lives"
Angela Wilhelm/Citizen Times
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Around 1,800 healthcare workers at Mission Hospitals are now represented by National Nurses United. In a press release, NNU called the election “the largest hospital union victory in the South since 1975.” Seventy percent of the ballots cast were in favor of union representation at two Asheville-based health facilities owned by HCA Healthcare. 

Previously nonprofit, Mission was acquired by for-profit chain HCA in February 2019, following a nationwide trend towards consolidation in the healthcare industry. Since then, concerns arose among staff and community members about facilities’ decreasing staff-to-patient ratios and quality of patient care. In March, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses formally petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to unionize. Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Brian Gordon talks with host Frank Stasio about the nurses’ reasons for collective bargaining power.

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