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October 19, 2011

Busting the Peace

Former Our Lady of Peace employee claims she was fired for organizing a union

Amy Doyle had worked at Our Lady of Peace psychiatric hospital for nearly nine years, most recently as a mental health associate working with mentally retarded teenagers at a group home where she helped them with school and activities of daily living.

But in late September, Our Lady of Peace management suddenly suspended Doyle.

“They suspended me for ‘distribution of non-work materials and discussion of non-work related topics, to the level of harassment,’” Doyle says. “That was their actual wording. But they never told me what I was distributing. They never told me who I was harassing.”

A week later, Doyle was fired. According to her, the reason was obvious: She had been attempting to organize her co-workers into a union, seeking to improve what she saw as unsafe conditions at Our Lady of Peace for both the staff and the patients.

With Doyle’s firing, several other workers who have been supporting unionization now fear a similar fate. They hope to continue speaking out about conditions at the hospital and the need for a union, but they fear retaliation from the management of Our Lady of Peace and its’ owners, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare.

Doyle started organizing a year and a half ago by helping a friend encourage co-workers to sign union cards with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 62, covering Kentucky and Indiana. Before she knew it, she became one of their organizing leaders.

What drove her to do so is what she describes as “dangerous conditions” at Our Lady of Peace, much of it due to understaffing.

“With the kids, we had some that were very violent, and then some that were not, making a dangerous situation for those kids,” Doyle says. “There have been times, because we’re understaffed and we had to deal with one particular patient, that another patient slips into another patient’s room. There could be a sexual incident, or someone could be beaten up, because there’s not enough staff there. And that kind of thing happened multiple times.”

Doyle notes that staff often gets injured too, and that she once tore her ACL at work when trying to corral a child on her own. She claims management never addressed these problems in a serious manner.

After being temporarily suspended in the spring — for a timesheet snafu Doyle says management later admitted was a mistake, and just a few weeks after complaining about conditions for patients — Doyle and her pro-union co-workers picked up the pace in their organizing. They held meetings outside of work and went door-to-door to employees’ houses, asking them to sign a union card.

That’s when management at Our Lady of Peace began to pick up their efforts to discourage union activity.

“They sent out two different anti-union letters telling people unions were bad for them, and that us going to their door was considered harassment,” Doyle says. “But while they’re saying that we’re harassing them, they’re actually harassing us.”

At the end of September, Doyle was suspended and ultimately fired for breaking the aforementioned “distribution” policy.

“During my termination, I asked them if it was because I am a union supporter, because I was handing out union stuff, and they couldn’t answer,” Doyle says. “They didn’t say yes, they didn’t say no, which I consider an admission of guilt in itself.”

LEO Weekly obtained an Aug. 2 letter in which Our Lady of Peace President and CEO Jennifer Nolan strongly discouraged employees from signing union cards, referencing the recent door-to-door canvassing.

“A union is not necessary or desirable at Our Lady of Peace,” Nolan wrote. “Unions bring the risk of disruption, division and strikes. This is inconsistent with our mission of providing quality care. We do not think team members should be expected to pay hard-earned money in dues to a union. Common union promises of higher pay often do not come true, especially in this economy.”

Jewish Hospital spokeswoman Barbara Mackovic tells LEO Weekly she cannot comment on personnel matters, but says, “Safety is the No. 1 priority at Our Lady of Peace, as it is with all of our facilities.”

Neither Nolan nor management at Our Lady of Peace responded to inquiries for this story. However, on Oct. 17, Nolan sent another letter to employees, this time warning them that LEO Weekly had inquired about an “incident” at Our Lady of Peace, and that they should expect a story soon.

In the letter, Nolan emphasized that they have had “many efforts and successes” related to workplace safety, and she made a few more digs at unions.

“We do not believe that there is a need for employees to turn over their right to speak for themselves to a union,” Nolan wrote. “We work hard to provide employees with a just and fair environment, as well as satisfactory work conditions and internal processes to address workplace concerns.

“It is not right for you to be forced to pay expensive dues with no guarantees.”

LEO Weekly spoke with several current and former Our Lady of Peace employees who confirm Doyle’s account of the safety conditions and anti-union persuasion of management. They declined to be named in this story, fearing they would face termination or legal action.

“For years, pretty much since Jewish Hospital took over, it’s just been a joke,” one longtime Our Lady of Peace employee tells LEO. “They absolutely do not care about their patients or their staff.

“They’re just downright dangerous, whether it be staffing patterns, or the way that they intermix the patients on the units, age-wise or IQ-wise. We have kids with criminal charges that are mixed on units with kids that are mentally retarded. The staff are constantly telling them how dangerous this stuff is, and they absolutely ignore it.”

A former nurse at Our Lady of Peace — who claims she also faced retaliation for union organizing — agrees it is dangerous for both staff and patients.

“It’s not a safe environment at all,” she says. “One night, this bigger kid is beating the crap out of this smaller kid, and management is standing there saying, ‘Don’t touch those kids, that’s child abuse.’

“It’s just horrible. I mean, you get spit on, bit, punched, and they do nothing.”

Another mental health associate says the anti-union message is clear.

“We’ve had a couple of staff report that management has come right out and said that they’ll be fired if they pursue (union organizing),” he says. “But these people are also too afraid to come forward about it. That’s one thing that Jewish Hospital and Our Lady of Peace were definitely successful at, was scaring the pants off of them.

“It’s a genuine fear, which we can all understand, but at the same time, at some point, especially for these kids’ sake, we’ve got to stand up and say something.”

An appeal hearing was scheduled for Doyle at Our Lady of Peace on Oct. 19, but she is not optimistic about the outcome. Still unaware of the specific reason for her firing, she must defend herself without a lawyer. Meanwhile, the local AFSMCE council has filed a case against Jewish Hospital with the National Labor Relations Board.

“We’re positive that what they did was a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, and we’re going to fight it until she gets reinstated, and that is our hope,” says David Warrick, executive director of AFSCME Council 62. “We’re going to stand with her, whatever it takes. What they did to her was wrong, it violated her rights, and we’re not going to allow an employer to do that.” 

...

By Craven_Inc
...

Axe to grind?

By Rick101
Rick101 Sunnyday2day sounds like you have a personal axe to grind with Amy, I have known Amy for many years and you obviously do not. I don't work and have never worked there but I can tell you I've heard the problems mentioned in the article for a long time. As far as Amy goes you'll never meet a nicer person, she would do any thing to help others. I don't understand why anyone would fear unionization it would be in the workers interest as well as the patients that you care for, and in that end it would ultimately be in the hospitals interest to better serve their patients and staff. Oh well that is a different subject. If they have let Amy go they have lost a dedicated employee and I'm sure she will be an asset to her next employer. Best wishes Amy.

Selfish Position

By SunnyDay2Day
I read Amy's remarks in the article. I think it is humorous how someone feels that they have to bring others down with her to save her job. I have known and worked with Amy for a few months now. Her position here is that she got in trouble for basically doing nothing. I am sorry that the LEO only got her side of the story. Why didn't other co-workers come to her defense? (except the other pro-union people) I like my job - yes, it is working with mostly kids who have problems. Get over it. You are in the wrong place if you think it is okay to hit back at a kid for hitting you. That is not the way it works. Ms. Nolan has done a lot of things to improve the hospital. I like her and what she stands for. Amy was fired for not following the rules. I don't want someone harrassing me to sign up for the union. My choice. Leave me alone. You get what you deserve. Good employees get rewarded and earn respect. . We are happy with our jobs and the LEO should not publish one sided articles. It is kind of funny to read how one sided it is. Amy - I don't miss you at work :)

this has to be mrs donna or

By past employee
this has to be mrs donna or peggy. i guess you would love your job when you two are the dummies that harrass and get people terminated. you two are the reason for the union.i will not talk about someones sick past on here but everyone that is employed there knows about donna and her deep sick issues. how about the girl in risk management that was stealing time but then got a promotion. lol..this place is a joke and they employee people that have no business working with children, Karma will come around and I see it coming in the near future. As for HR dont trust that tall one. She is a complete backstabber and she is good friends with Donna and Peggy. also who was talking about hitting a kid that hits you. the issue was risk management wanted planned ignoring used for the large criminal kids that were beating on the MR kids that had no business being on that floor. so really do you sit back and allow that to go on? I think that is abuse

More than just union people

By NOT SO Selfish
More than just union people came to her defense. In fact most of your co workers at the PRTF called her mad as hell that she was targeted. Funny thing is none of them felt they could step forward due to fear that they would be terminated. You have only been at OLOP a few months and have drunk the cool aid that they have served you in orientation. You have no clue the danger they put these kids in and staff with them. You have not seen the dozen or so workers that have been tossed under a bus to protect the hospital or to satisfy some kind of popularity contest. I have worked with Amy for many years and the only bad thing I can say about her is she cares too much. About a year ago we had almost what we needed to get a vote in but the hospital started pushing people out and making things so bad they did not want to stay. The fact is that the hospital has gotten better in some ways but worse in others. The dangers are still here and over looked. They mask the problems with fancy words and committees that do nothing. Don’t be fooled by your own personal problems with Amy. And don’t let them make you think that we are all angry, bad employees. We are employees that have seen this hospital go from a loving caring, brotherhood to money talks every man for him self hospital. And as far as hitting the kids. lol they were not saying we should hit them, was saying that the way they teach us is we have to be reactive instead of proactive. We have to wait for them to hit each other before we can stop them. and as far as them not giving both sides.. it said they asked jewish to respond and they said nothing. sry trying to send this from my phone.

Awestruck

By SunnyDay2Day
I am kind of awestruck to read your comments. I have not worked at OLOP for a few months - I have worked there for almost 2 years. I said I worked with Amy for a few months. I transferred from a union hospital and they are not going to arrive and all of a sudden the sun will come out. Are you crazy? You people are the ones who show up late everyday or don't watch the kids the way you should or you feel like "no one is going to tell me what to do". Yes, I see you everyday... We are on the other side - coming to work on time, doing our best, working the weekends... We are happy to have a job. If you think that being in a union means you can get away with NOT following the rules, you are nuts. You must have drank the Obama kool-aide. I am sorry if you don't like your job, don't feel respected, etc... Please go work somewhere else where it is okay to show up late, abuse the policies and sit in your chair all day. yes, you will come back and talk bad about me - but I know at the end of the day I am taking care of my kids at work and at home. Good luck to you all...

u must have drank the jewish

By past employee
u must have drank the jewish koolaid.or is it ur postpartum

No PEACE in this center...

By Craven_Inc
I'm not sure what happened to my original comment, but I'll try it again... I am a former employee of OLOP, and agree 100% with Amy, and everyone else standing behind her, and trying to achieve this goal. I was employed there for almost 3 years, and in the beginning, I thought I had landed my dream job. I was earning more per hr. than I had in any other position prior, over time was offered, and encouraged, not too mention the overwhelming feeling that I was doing something good, and having a positive impact on kids who desperately needed it. Unfortunately, it was not long after that I realized it wasn't all peaches and cream. About a year into my employment there, "the powers that be" decided to spend a small fortune investing in camera equipment, monitors, etc. I can only assume, that this was intended to cut down on payroll costs, as staffing suddenly took a dramatic "downsize" on the units. So, instead of having trained staff, in the doorways of kids who cause self harm, inflict damage on other patients or staff, or are sexually aggressive, there's a camera. Which may or may not be working at the time. (For a year and a half, the cameras were more faulty than they were reliable.) Point being, regardless of how many people are on the code team, if there's not enough on the units at the time the incident is taking place, there's much more risk of someone being seriously injured. Of course the employee's there know they're taking a chance of being injured. That's common sense. If they didn't care about their jobs, or those patients, they would seek other employment. I sustained a lower back injury while in management with a patient. Was given the run around by OPS for months. When I finally returned, I was being dropped (*told to go home, or was not needed due to over staffing*) on a regular basis, and everyone in nursing services treated me like I had a flesh eating disease. Once I left, I hired an attorney, had to be seen by OPS again, was given the run around yet AGAIN, and eventually OLOP won, because of a loop hole. Approximately 6 months later, I had to be seen in the emergency room for the same injury, and was told I had 2 ruptured discs, that had to be surgically removed immediately. Having been to court over it already, I couldn't take them back again. Well played OLOP, well played. Not only is a union needed at OLOP, it might very well be the only thing that saves that place from itself...

Must admit the bridge is

By NOT SO Selfish
Must admit the bridge is making me late recently. Only time I Sit in a chair is when Im on break, running a group, or sitting down to fill out flows. I work side by side with my co workers and manager every day to make our unit better. I am part of more then one of our committee's, I have gone through many meetings with Jennifer Nolan about safety, employees concerns and so on. She has done great things and at the Same time her hands are tied by Jewish hospital and managers that continue to push there staff under a bus to keep themselves out of trouble. you seem to be blind to the problems on your own unit. Just months ago Amy sent an email and had a meeting with Jennifer detailed problems that were neglect, borderline illegal, and just down right shameful. Jennifer did help take care if these problems. My question is if your are such a good employee why did you not report these problems? I have great reviews every year and continue to do so. Oh.... And IM pro union.

Did I mention that I have

By NOT SO Selfish
Did I mention that I have been here well over 5 years? Only called in maybe 6 times in 5 years, gave up a much higher paying job to work with these kids. Have turned down multiple higher paying jobs in my trained vocation so that I could continue to work with these kids. By the way IM a great parent myself. My kids are wonderful, smart, athletic, funny, driven, charitable and loving. Oh.. And IM pro union. I vote, pay taxes, love my country, my family had been military for the last 4 generations. My dad retired 28 years in the military. Oh ... And he is a union supporter. I don't believe that union is right for every job or hospital but I do believe that it is right for olop. Keep fighting Amy. Oh... And IM a republican that did not vote for Obama. But I am also a realist. Some times you need someone or something to stand in between the money and the patients and staff.

I am a long time employee

By patientsfirst
This is about standing up for what's right. Union or not the patients need to come first. Lets face it OLOP is not safe for it's patents. They worry more about appearance and money then actually taking care of their patients. Remember this is the hospital that allowed a patient to get a screwdriver, unlock the "safety window" and hang out the window from the 3rd floor over the parking lot. Also instead of rewarding the staff that saved the patients life, they are the one that got in trouble but the ones that were "watching" the patient didn't get in any trouble at all. Then youv'e got the patient drowning cover up, and the man recently convicted for having child pornography worked with the children at OLOP, and I could go on and on. The patients do not recieve care the adults come for 3 hots and a cot and the meds. The children are just being babysat for. They rarely see any doctors or receive therapy. Amy was just trying to make it a safe place for the patients again. She loved "her kids" as she called them and knew that they were difficult and that's what she liked about it, it was a challenge. OLOP has history of firing good staff but allowing others who blatently break the rules stay. Amy was just trying to make a change. Those who attack her for standing up for whats right should be ashamed of themselves. What could you possibly get out of being so nasty and cold hearted. I worked with Amy for a few years and her one fllaw is that she puts others ahead of herself. You should maybe follow by her example and get that stick out of your ass, maybe it will make you a better worker.

GO AMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Wonderguy1979
I am not an employee of OLOP but I have also been unfairly fired from a company based on lies fabricated about me and Its disgusting for any company to do this to a loyal employee like Amy. Amy has always put everyone else before herself and treated those kids with the love respect and discipline that they needed and by any means never deserved to be fired for trying to make the hospital better for the kids that she loved. Apparently Sunnyday2day is one of the employees that has their head up managements asses in order to get ahead and obviously since they are personally attacking amy after only working with her a few months doesnt know anything at all. Amy was never late for work or called in and if you knew everything else that was going on in her life and yet she still put personal problems aside to take care of everyone else. So my suggestion is to shut your mouth before you know all of the facts. I myself am not a fan of unions but I do see a need for a union in a place of work that is willing to fire a stellar worker just on the basis of organizing a union when it is needed and it is very much needed in this establishment. I commend Amy for standing up for what she believes in and fighting for what is right this company should not be allowed to treat the patients and employees this way.......And anyone who thinks differently can go jump off a bridge!!!! Unfair is Unfair!!!!! Fight them tooth and Nail all the way!!!

Hmmm...

By SunnyDay2Day
Read your comments. You can see that Amy, as we call her "The Troll", and her couple of friends in life have gotten together to stir the pot. You guys are funny. You must enjoy this. I must admit I read the LEO because it provides entertainment - just like your comments. "Poor Amy" - "Amy got fired for doing a great job". Sure - that happens all the time. Great people get fired ALL the time. Hilarious. When I was a lead, I used to always target my BEST employees so I could get rid of them I always like to keep the ones who come in late, sit on their butt, complain about the patients who need the most help and always blamed me for their problems. Look at your selves. The answer is inside of you! I like my job - didn't drink the kool-aide. I am proud to do what I do and I like most of my co-workers. But you guys are troublemakers and like chaos in your life. I would just appreciate you not involving my job in it. Go work at Ford - enjoy their union life - when they aren't in fear of losing their benefits or ALWAYS giving up something. Talk to them - they LOVE giving up benefits or moving to here and their for a paycheck! I am done here. I hope you all enjoy your chaotic lives! Peace and love to you all.

dream on

By past employee
as you say we used to call her ''the troll'' and then you claim you were a lead. what is a lead i ask? do you leads sit around and poke fun at your employees? were you a lead asskisser?oh and yes i think you are drinking the jewaid oh sorry i mean the koolaid! i bet you were lead mental health worker on 2 east. i am stunned i cant for the life of me figure out what the hell a lead is. can someone please tell me what a lead is lmao

dream on

By past employee
as you say we used to call her ''the troll'' and then you claim you were a lead. what is a lead i ask? do you leads sit around and poke fun at your employees? were you a lead asskisser?oh and yes i think you are drinking the jewaid oh sorry i mean the koolaid! i bet you were lead mental health worker on 2 east. i am stunned i cant for the life of me figure out what the hell a lead is. can someone please tell me what a lead is lmao

I think it’s downright

By NOT SO Selfish
I think it’s downright pathetic that you feel you need to stoop so low as to name calling. pulling way from the issues and turning this into a popularity contest. well done. And so far I have seen only you on here bashing Amy or the union. her friends came to the defense of her and the kids. where are your friends? (cricket... cricket....)Kind of makes you look like the one that needs a few friends.now i am sure you will create new profiles on here so that you can give the impression that you have friends that will defend you.. But that’s cool. If you feel the need to bash then go for it. You’re just making yourself look defeated. You say she is a bad employee yet she has years of glowing reviews from all her managers. You say she is Lazy Yet she was part of 2 committees and went out many times to do risk assessments for outings. She even took the time to fight for these kids on many occasions for negligent, immoral, unsafe, and unclean conditions. She volunteered and organized for events with employees to support local charities and events. She did all this and still while still attending to her dyeing aunt and supporting her family during the long and painful trial of the person who murdered her Cousin. And still somehow found time to try and organize union meetings, do door to doors, and educate staff on what the union could do to help us stop the unsafe, unfair, and uncaring actions of our work place. You seem to think that the people want the union so they can be lazy and get better pay and benefits. Funny thing is everyone we have talked to wanted to know how the union could help us get better treatment and conditions for these kids. Oh but I will say they also wanted fair treatment at work. Such a horrible thing to want I am sure you will say. You keep saying what a great job we all have working with these kids and I don’t think any of us would disagree however the issue is not the kids it’s the company and how they treat these kids. They have done a great job at the cosmetic appearance of a great place for these kids but then you go on the units and its dirty, the food is shameful (sending moldy bread and cheese, portions that are too small for a growing teen, and outdated products.) hell at the prtf staff at one point was having to by the kids food because the hospital was not supplying it. My question to you is how do you suppose we fix all these issues? We have sent Emails, made phone calls, and had meetings with management, joined committees and spoke out during internal town hall meetings. We even called OIG and CPS. The emails, phone calls, and meetings did nothing. We have gotten nothing but empty promises and blow offs. When we called OIG and CPS they fixed the problems just long enough so they were satisfied and left, And then Hired a OIG investigator to show them how to keep the state out of the building while actually doing nothing to solve the problem. So we have tried all the internal avenues, called the state and now are attempting to unionize and get the press involved to force them to act. At one point we had 30 staff members actively and openly fighting to get this union in to place but the hospital one by one has pushed out or fired them for anything they could get away with. You ask why an employer would try and get rid of good quality staff. Here is why. “Without a Union, employees are employed at will. What this means is legally, employees have no rights other than those expressed in state and federal laws. Laws are only as good as their enforcement. If an employer violates the rights of employees, employees are usually unwilling to expend the expense and time to fight the charge and clear their good name. Employers have a whole cadre of attorneys and consultants to protect the company. The duty of these attorneys and consultants is to represent the interests of management. With a union, employees gain additional rights, enforceable in a court of law. The union has its own cadre of attorneys and representatives whose sole purpose is to represent the rights of employees. Employees gain further legal rights just with their union representation. The law gives rights to employees organized collectively that individual employees do not enjoy.” We need these advantages to put us in a position to fight for these kids collectively. Good luck to you I think you will need it.

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