MINNEAPOLIS - The union representing a group of employees at Hennepin County Medical Center has filed suit against the hospital and the county, alleging a round of recent layoffs violates an existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA). 

The lawsuit, filed in Hennepin County District Court by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5 (AFSCME), maintains that HCMC announced the layoff of nearly 50 AFSCME employees in February without first laying off non-union temporary, intermittent and part-time workers first. The union also alleges that the hospital hired and continues to hire temporary and contract employees from vendors to do work that the CBA specifies is supposed to be performed by AFSCME employees. 

In February, AFSCME filed a grievance on behalf of the four bargaining units impacted by the layoffs, and demanded to meet with hospital officials to discuss the filling of union positions with temporary and part-time workers.

The lawsuit demands a jury trial, and is seeking a verdict that finds HCMC is guilty of unfair labor practices and violating the CBA. AFSCME is also asking to have laid-off employees returned to their positions with back pay, benefits and restoration of seniority, among other things.

In a statement released late Thursday morning HCMC officials expressed confidence the job cuts are within the realm of the law. 

In laying off union employees HCMC does not have discretion in selecting who will be laid-off, rather HCMC is required to layoff employees based on seniority and the provisions of the labor agreements. HCMC is confident that it complied with the labor agreements and all applicable laws in conducting this layoff.