Letter: Mission nurses’ victory will ripple across the South

Graphic by Lori Deaton

As a former labor negotiator for Sylvania, I would like to share my thoughts regarding the recent union vote by Mission nurses. Ever since the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which defined the playing field for collective bargaining, the conventional wisdom for corporate management has been to do whatever can be done to stretch out the time between (a) the date many of the workers petition for a union and (b) the date all workers vote for or against a union. The thinking is that the initial burst of energy from workers will dissipate and that management has more time to hire anti-union consultants, plan anti-union communications and control the message throughout the union campaign.

In Mission’s case, it appears to me that HCA management used COVID as an excuse to lengthen the time to a vote from weeks to months. Unfortunately for them, I think the strategy backfired. Why? Because Mission is on the front line of the virus. Because the nurses are the heroes. Because every extra day the nurses had to tell their truth carried much more weight than the conventional anti-union messages. Maybe the virus lasted longer than HCA thought it would.

What will happen now? A union contract will be negotiated. I predict that, post-contract, some aspects of hospital operations will move more slowly and with less flexibility than before. I also predict that nurses will earn a higher hourly rate and will be able to work in an environment with higher nurse-to-patient ratios. It seems to me that Mission’s nurses have won a historic victory, one that will have ripple effects throughout North Carolina and the South.

— Jim Stokely


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “Letter: Mission nurses’ victory will ripple across the South

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.