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Ascension Health is the largest Catholic hospital chain in America. Non-profit hospitals are required to serve the poor and vulnerable. But its abuses of workers, patients and communities show that Ascension has lost its way.

Ascension Genesys in Flint, MI settled with the U.S. Department of Justice for $669,000 for overbilling Medicare. This was money meant to serve Michigan's elderly. Now Genesys wants to cut its licensed nurses, paramedics and EMTs, placing patient care further at risk.

Ascension managers want to stop health care for its employees when they retire. Pope John Paul II called for work that "guarantees those who have retired have a decent standard of living."

Please support Ascension Genesys workers and their patients.


Genesys Workers Win Contract Victory!

October 15th, 2010 by saaadmin

There is good news in Flint, Michigan today. The members of Teamsters Local 332 who work as LPNs, technicians, paramedics and EMTs at Genesys Regional Medical Center voted to ratify their new contract.

Despite almost a year of union-busting tactics by this Ascension Health subsidiary, and after Genesys walked away from the bargaining table and forced its own contract on these health care workers, the members and officers of Teamsters Local 332 in Flint, MI kept up the pressure, rallied community support, and were able force the hospital to come back to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract.

You can read the full story here.

VIDEO: Update on UAW and Community Support for Ascension Nurses, Technicians

August 6th, 2010 by saaadmin

Ascension Health’s Genesys Regional Medical Center has walked away from the bargaining table and is planning to gut its workers’ retirement by 75%. Now the United Auto Workers are publicly supporting these community health care workers in their fight for a fair contract.

This moving news clip sums up the struggle that is hurting Flint health care workers and the entire Flint community.

Iraq Vet Returns from War; Laid Off by Ascension

August 6th, 2010 by saaadmin

This video tells the story. An Iraq war medic returns from the battlefield only to find that Ascension’s Genesys Medical Center has eliminated his licensed nursing position. This appears to be a violation of U.S. law; the soldier has already filed an official complaint with federal authorities.

Watch the video here. You can read more on the story here.

Religious Leaders Report on Abuses at Ascension

July 15th, 2010 by saaadmin

Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) released a new report, “A Fall from Grace: Workers’ Rights Abuses at Ascension Health’s Michigan Operations,” documenting a pattern of anti-union behavior at three of the giant hospital chain’s Michigan facilities.

Watch press coverage of the report’s release here.

IWJ Executive Director Kim Bobo said, “The patterns of anti-union behavior and disrespect toward workers demonstrated in this report represent a fall from grace by Ascension management. The only way to redeem grace for oneself or one’s institution is to change. This report calls for change.”

The report is the result of a fact-finding investigation by religious leaders that recently met with Ascension hospital workers to hear their concerns. Requests to meet with hospital management were denied.

The report also calls attention to Catholic Social Doctrine which states that labor unions are essential to the common good. These teachings are embodied in several papal encyclicals, statements by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a recently released document, Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions that was endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association.

You can read the full report here.

Ascension: Violating Federal Labor Laws

June 30th, 2010 by saaadmin

Ascension’s abusive practices go far beyond Genesys Medical Center in Flint. The union representing registered nurses at Ascension’s Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), citing 32 violations of the federal law by Borgess.

The NLRB, after conducting a three-month investigation, has concluded that many of these charges have merit. Specifically, the NLRB will charge Borgess with the illegal restraint, interference and coercion of employees; unlawful discrimination against employees; and refusing to bargain in good faith. Significantly, the NLRB has concluded that Borgess adopted an illegal bargaining strategy at the inception of the negotiations, and that it insisted on contract proposals that violated the duty to bargain in good faith.

Ascension has had many of the same complaints filed against it by employees at Genesys. The outcome of those NLRB investigations are pending. You can read more about Ascension’s violation of federal labor laws here.

Union-Busting: A Mortal Sin?

June 4th, 2010 by saaadmin

“Union busting refers to the action of any person who seeks to prevent employees from forming a labor union, or who attempts to undermine or destroy an existing union. This person is in grave material violation of Catholic Social Doctrine on labor unions.”

So begins an Open Statement recently published by Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice (CSWJ), entitled, “Union Busting Is A Mortal Sin.”

In it, CSWJ notes there are seven ways that “union-busting,” that is, the blocking, undermining, or destroying of a labor union, constitutes material for mortal sin, including:

1. The employer or manager steals the natural right of workers to free association.
2. The employer or manager steals just wages and benefits from workers and their families.
3. The employer or manager steals institutional funds to employ union avoidance firms to harass, intimidate, and divide workers.
4. The employer or manager steals the time of its workers and managers who are forced to take time away from their work (through mandatory meetings) and their families by spending evenings, weekends, months, and years struggling for something that employers should welcome from day one: an employee union in the workplace.

Does any of this sound familiar? Read the rest of the Open Statement here.

Money Can’t Buy a Clean Conscience

May 27th, 2010 by saaadmin

Ascension Health is the largest Catholic non-profit health system in America. It owns Genesys Regional Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. Ascension has paid huge amounts to settle Justice Department and labor board charges in just the last year alone.

First, Genesys paid $1 million for wrongfully firing its clinical engineers.

Then, Genesys settled two charges by the U.S. Department of Justice – first for $669,000 and then for $931,000 – for overbilling Medicare. This kind of fraud takes money from the Medicare program and leads to higher premiums for seniors. Several other Ascension hospitals have paid over $2.5 million in settlements to the DOJ in the last year as well.

And now, Ascension’s St. John Hospital in Detroit has recently settled with nurses for over $13.5 million. The nurses sued Ascension and other area hospitals for violating anti-trust laws by conspiring over a five-year period to keep nurses’ wages artificially low.

$18.6 million in just one year? This is money that is not going towards improving health care in our communities. And now Ascension has the nerve to get $1.3 billion in tax-exempt bonds from Michigan as well.


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Genesys’ Mother's Day Gift to New Moms: Cutting Nurses

May 7th, 2010 by saaadmin

At Genesys Regional Medical Center, licensed practical nurses take care of new moms and their babies. But Genesys wants to do away with all these nurses.

Genesys also wants to take away employees’ health care and pension when they retire.

Registered nurses and doctors at Genesys signed a petition asking management not to cut these vitally important nurses.

This petition was sent to GRMC management on May 6, 2010:

We, the Registered Nurses of the Family Birthing Center, feel our licensed practical nurses are a great asset to the care of the moms and babies.

The licensed practical nurses have a wide range of knowledge and expertise.

They are a valuable asset to our team. In the Well Baby Nursery the procedures they do every day are extremely helpful to us. We really do not want to lose our licensed practical nurses!

Signed,

Registered Nurses and Doctors at the Genesys Family Birthing Center

You can click here to send a letter to tell Genesys and tell them: Don’t Put New Moms and Babies at Risk!


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When Ascension Blocks Benefits, Is It Cause for Celebration?

April 29th, 2010 by saaadmin

Unemployment benefits are meant to provide help to those who have become unemployed through no fault of their own, such as layoffs. Not only do these benefits help the individual, they also help the community because payments to unemployed workers put additional funds into the economy.

Ascension Genesys has been fighting unemployment benefits for former employees in the Flint, Michigan area – a region that is in dire need of economic help.

Genesys has also apparently been celebrating when these workers’ unemployment claims are denied. Managers have been sending each other electronic messages each time a claim is denied. One such message sent last month read, “Good job – we won the employment hearing for [name redacted].”

Another message sent from one manager to another read, “We won the [name redacted] hearing! You are 100%. Thanks for all your help!”

During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it is disturbing to see management at a faith-based hospital so readily rejoice and congratulate its managers for denying unemployment claims and blocking benefits. You can take action to send a letter to Genesys and its parent company, Ascension Healthclick here to send them a letter asking them to stop hurting Flint’s workers and Flint’s economy.

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When Did "Pray" Become a 4-Letter Word?

April 13th, 2010 by saaadmin

Michael Moore has posted another update on the situation at Genesys. The blog post on his website reads:

“Our Teamster local put up a billboard to ask for the community’s help. We have seen such an outpouring of love and support in Flint, in Michigan and across the country – it has really been amazing.

The billboard asked the community to pray for the workers and pray for the patients who will be hurt by all the cuts.

Mysteriously, the billboard was taken down after just three days. We were told that not only can we not use the words “Ascension” or “Genesys” on the billboard, we could not use the word “pray” either… You can read the rest of the post here.

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