Trial underway in fight between Orlando Health and union organizers

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

A major central Florida employer is on trial, accused of violating federal labor laws.

WFTV has been following the fight between Orlando Health and a group of employees there who are working to form a union, following changes to pay in August of last year.

Employees claim they were discriminated against and harassed, for handing out union materials to other colleagues, and the National Labor Relations Board filed charges on the hospital in the fall.

There are still about a dozen witnesses to be called from both sides and it could end up being a very long fight.

On Wednesday, witness testimony matched claims in the National Labor Relations Board complaint that employees were interrogated and prohibited from distributing union materials inside several Orlando Health facilities.

“Our goal is to have Orlando Health admit their wrongdoing and cease their interference with the organizing campaign,” said Sarah Collins, a nurse and representative for the nurse’s union.

She’s also one of more than a dozen witnesses who will testify on the union’s behalf.

“It's my opinion that they are undermining the seriousness of the allegations and that will be determined through the trial,” she said.

But Orlando Health officials insist the complaints are technical instead of serious labor law violations.

“It’s all about access and it’s about who is allowed to be in certain areas and when,” said Ken Lewis. “Our priority is always patient safety and patient care and we never want to do anything to interfere with that.”

The two parties have been in settlement talks, but no agreement has been reached.