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Local News

Surgery unit nurses at Presence Saint Joseph vote to break from union

About two dozen nurses within the surgery unit at Presence Saint Joseph in Joliet voted Tuesday to break away from the state's nurses union, saying the group does not represent their interests.

The 12-7 vote on Tuesday was the result of a petition filed with the National Labor Relations Board in April, arguing the Illinois Nurses Association no longer represented the nurses' interests.

The vote means the nurses will no longer be represented by the Illinois Nurses Association, nor will they be required to pay monthly union dues, according to a hospital news release.

Twenty-five of the 27 nurses employed in the the unit were eligible to cast a vote in Tuesday's secret ballot, said Lisa Lagger, spokeswoman for the hospital. Twenty-three votes were cast, but the NLRB ruled that four were invalid.

Chris Martin, spokesman for the INA, said union officials "have reason to believe the employer might have suppressed some of the vote," adding the INA will be conducting a thorough investigation and is considering legal action.

Lagger said the votes were certified by the NLRB, adding the results should stand.

"We would most sincerely hope that the union would respect the voices of these nurses and allow the results to stand," she said.

Leslie Kruzich, a registered nurse with the surgery center, led the decertification efforts.

“After working under a collective bargaining agreement, a group of us really began to question the value of paying dues and having a third party speak for us,” she said in the news release. “As professional registered nurses, we are not only comfortable expressing our ideas and concerns directly with our leader, but confident in her ability to be responsive to us. At the end of the day, my colleagues and I felt we just didn't need the INA, and we are truly delighted with the outcome of the election.”

The surgery unit nurses have been represented by the INA since 2011 in an agreement separate from the one that affects the nearly 800 nurses working at Presence Saint Joseph's Medical Center.

Other contract

Meanwhile, contract negotiations between Illinois Nurses Association members and administrators at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center are ongoing. The two sides met Wednesday without settling on an agreement. Lagger declined to comment on specifics.

For months, the two sides have been at odds over the union's desire for mandatory staffing ratios. Both sides began bargaining in January. The last contract expired March 24.

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