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Teamsters, Religious Leaders Call for Justice, Compassion at Ascension Health Following Report Alleging Workers Rights Violations

Friday, July 16, 2010 Health Insurance News J E 4
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Interfaith Worker Justice Releases Report, Calls on Ascension Health to End Worker Abuses in Michigan Hospitals and Follow Catholic Social Teachings

DETROIT, July 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa joined religious leaders and workers from Ascension Health hospitals to speak at a press conference held by Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), to reveal the results of its investigation last month into allegations of worker abuse and anti-union behavior at three Ascension Health hospitals in Michigan.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100127/IBTLOGO)

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100127/IBTLOGO)

IWJ's report stemmed from a fact-finding delegation of religious leaders that visited workers at Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc and two other Michigan hospitals. All three facilities are owned by Ascension Health, the largest Catholic non-profit health system in America. IWJ is a national organization that works with religious leaders of various faiths on issues of workers' rights.

Nina Bugbee, President of Teamsters Local 332 in Flint, Mich., represents more than 300 technical employees, emergency technicians and licensed nurses at Ascension's Genesys Regional Medical Center.

"Our members who work as nurses, technicians, paramedics and EMTs at Genesys asked Interfaith Worker Justice to document the harassment and intimidation they started experiencing after this hospital became part of the Ascension corporate system," Bugbee said.. "I am not surprised that IWJ found evidence of the same behavior at all the Ascension hospitals. It's not just Teamster members - we have heard exactly the same stories across the board at several Ascension facilities, from union and non-union workers alike."

Hoffa spoke at the press conference, denouncing Ascension Genesys for its strong-arm tactics and pledging the union's continued support for the members in their struggle to secure a fair contract.

"I want to thank the IWJ delegation for giving these health care workers a voice and for bravely speaking out about the abuses by this corporate health care giant," Hoffa said. "Genesys has walked away from the bargaining table and is refusing to continue negotiating a new contract with our members. The company wants to slash these workers' retirement, demote many of them and cut their wages, and increase their health care co-pays at the same time. This is pure hypocrisy coming from a Catholic institution that claims it lives by a mission of compassion and justice."

The report, "A Fall from Grace: Workers' Rights Abuses at Ascension Health's Michigan Operations," can be downloaded here.

(http://www.iwj.org/doc/AscensionHealthAFallFromGrace.pdf)

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters

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