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MUSC Workers Still Grieving For The Holidays
12/16/2015 5:52:54 PM

A protester in support of Healthcare Workers United stands behind MUSC Board members during their meeting December 11, 2015

Protesters at MUSC Board Meeting December 11
By Kieran Taylor

A lively protest at MUSC Board of Trustees meeting Friday unsettled board members, who responded with a hastily called closed-door session to discussion "policies and procedures." When reminded by a reporter that such a meeting would violate the state's open meetings laws, the Board quickly re-branded the secret session a "personnel and contracts" conversation.

Healthcare Workers United, the group that organized the protest, have requested minutes and other documents from the session by filing a Freedom of Information Act request with hospital officials. The protest was part of an ongoing effort to encourage MUSC to address its "culture of authoritarianism and white supremacy," according to a statement from HWU. African American workers and women complain of being marginalized and subject to managerial abuses.

Healthcare Workers United released the following statement:

"This was supposed to be Charleston’s season of healing. Despite a few well-publicized displays of unity and countless individual acts of kindness, the six months since the Massacre at Mother Emanuel AME have brought more and more hurt. The state legislature continues to defy a court order to provide students with a minimally adequate education. Thousands of area residents cheer a celebrity presidential candidate who has built his campaign around a series of insults directed at the disabled, women, African Americans, and immigrants. Business and political leaders speak on behalf of a multibillion dollar corporation’s efforts to suppress wages for local workers. Charleston college students dress as white supremacist terrorists and sing Christmas Carols. And gun violence continues unabated.
Nowhere are the hurts more surprising, however, than at the Medical University of South Carolina where university and hospital leaders continue to do violence to their own healers. MUSC pays thousands of its employees less than a living wage. Managers routinely bully subordinates. White supremacy and authoritarianism deeply embedded in the institution’s culture prevents women and non-white workers from assuming leadership roles at MUSC.
Healthcare Workers United—a Charleston based labor rights group—has raised these concerns with the Board of Trustees. Specifically, HWU has recommended implementation of a transparent grievance procedure that levels the playing field between employee and employer; a $15 an hour minimum wage for all hospital workers; and the reinstatement of Chris Nelson, a registered nurse who was terminated after nearly twenty years of service to MUSC for speaking out against threats to patients and coworkers.
MUSC has thus far rejected Healthcare Workers United’s recommendations. They have ignored the workers’ demand that it align its practice with its mission to “preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina.”
Representatives of Healthcare Workers United again come before this Board of Trustees today to make our case. Guided by the beliefs that the best assurance of excellent patient care is a stable, confident, and well-compensated workforce, and that remnants of MUSC’s racist and authoritarian culture continue to shape the day-to-day experiences of employees and patients, we ask that the Board join us for a process of healing that is long overdue." 


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