ORLANDO, Fla. - Eyewitness News obtained an email that suggests what hospital security officers should do if they hear nurses at Orlando Health talking about forming a union.
The note was allegedly written by the hospital's corporate manager of security less than eight hours after dozens of Orlando Health nurses notified their administration of plans to form a union.
It instructs employees to immediately alert supervisors of talk about collective bargaining.
The email, "Union Training for Security Officers," was sent out by the hospital's head of security.
In part, it instructs security officers to "immediately alert their supervisor if they see or hear any potentially inappropriate collective bargaining activity while on duty."
Eyewitness News showed the email to Sarah Lasher, one of the nurses behind the push for a union.
"I'm angry. I'm very angry and I am disappointed reading this," Lasher said.
Lasher said it feels like interference in forming a union when it is their legal right to do so.
The move to organize as a union comes after the health care system announced plans to cut shift differential pay in October.
Around 1,000 nurses get paid more for working undesirable night and weekend shifts.
"We're entitled to do so, and does that mean that we're going to have security strolling by our tables while we're eating and listening to what we say? This concerns me," Lasher said.
What's more upsetting to her is the last line of the email instructing managers to use flex pay if possible to train their staff but overtime if they must.
"So is that my understanding that they're going to pay them overtime to take these classes but in the same breath they're telling that they can't pay their nurses for their differential?" Lasher said.
The hospital released a statement Wednesday: "As we've stated before, we do not believe unionization supports Orlando Health's efforts to provide quality, affordable care to patients. Our security staff clearly needs to be aware of the rights of team members to organize and, to that end, understand the parameters of permissible activity. Flexing work schedules to enable security officers to attend training sessions is obviously preferred over overtime, which is used sparingly and only as a last resort. Nothing in the email you received is intimidating or intended to discourage team members from exercising their right to organize."
The hospital then released a revised statement: "Our first and foremost priority is providing a safe, secure environment for our team members, and for our patients who are entrusting us at a time when they are most vulnerable. We are committed to protecting our team members rights to organize or not organize. This means our security staff need to be aware of these rights and to understand the parameters of permissible activity. Security team members must be prepared to respond effectively and appropriately to any activity that has the potential to negatively impact our patients or team members. Because many of our team members, including the Security team, work different shifts, OT is sometimes required to ensure each team member is able to participate in training."