RNA/ONA Statement on Union Leadership Disciplines

Earlier this week, the University of Cincinnati Medical Center initiated a campaign to silence us and our union, the Registered Nurses Association (RNA) – a local nursing union of the Ohio Nurses Association. Our president and vice president, Michelle Thoman and Jennifer Donaldson respectively, were disciplined after communicating with our membership through an April 18th Facebook Live. The update was regarding ongoing negotiations pertaining to recruitment and retention efforts because of ongoing nurse staffing shortages at the Medical Center. President Thoman was issued a final written warning; Vice President Donaldson’s employment was terminated.

Ms. Donaldson is a 28-year labor and delivery nurse and a member of the clinical ladder for 20 years. She serves a student mentor and shares her expertise as adjunct faculty with the University of Cincinnati. Ms. Donaldson had no prior disciplines on her record.

Ms. Thoman began her nursing career five years ago at the Medical Center. She was chosen to be a preceptor for the Dedication Education Unit through the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing. Her leadership and expertise also lends itself to her role as a charge nurse on her unit. Ms. Thoman has no prior disciplines on her record.

The nurses and our leadership have worked tirelessly with the Medical Center to bring about necessary changes for the safety of patients and nurses alike, and Ms. Thoman and Ms. Donaldson have continued to lead us in advocating for more changes, such as critical staffing, nurse retention and bon-a-fide rest and meal breaks for nurses.  The Medical Center’s actions to stop our momentum is particularly alarming because our advocacy is focused on positive changes to the hospital – the type of changes the Tri-State Area deserves. Patients of UCMC deserve the confidence that they are receiving the best care possible.

Because of the ongoing investigation, we cannot comment on the specifics of each situation other than to assert unequivocally that the disciplinary actions taken by the Medical Center are illegal and aimed to silence nurses. The Ohio Nurses Association with the backing of the AFT – one of the largest unions in America – has already initiated steps to address the Medical Center’s illegal actions, including demanding that the Medical Center rescind Ms. Thoman’s discipline and reinstate Ms. Donaldson.

Instead of being intimidated, our nurses are rallying behind their leaders. The illegal tactics employed by UCMC only adds fuel to our fight. As we always are, we will continue to be a voice for our patients and shed light on important issues that the Medical Center would prefer to ignore. We will continue to fight for our leaders to cure the unjust actions taken against them. RNA nurses will not back down and we refuse to be silenced.