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Hundreds of nurses vote to get rid of union at Mayo Clinic hospital in Mankato

This will be the first time the workers won't have union representation there in more than 70 years.

MANKATO, Minn. — Nurses at Mayo Clinic's Mankato hospital have voted to get rid of their union. 

The National Labor Relations Board announced Monday the nurses at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato voted 213 to 181 to remove the Minnesota Nurses Association from the hospital.

It comes more than 70 years after the nurses first unionized there and it's a move that's backed by the National Right to Work Foundation.

"It's always good to assist workers, I mean, it was their choice ultimately and I think they spoke pretty loudly with this vote," said the National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens.

Employees can file a decertification petition with the NLRB after collecting signatures from at least 30% of workers — a move the NRWF says this group started last month, calling it a common one.

"It's not commonplace," said Mitchell Hamline School of Law Professor David Larson. "That's just the reality. 

Larson says union popularity is, in fact, going up, winning 70% of elections in the last five years. NLRB data also showed the number of decertification petitions filed in the last decade have gone down from 472 to 240. 

RELATED: Mayo Clinic ranked No. 1 hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report

"If you want to have any kind of voice, you're going to need to have a union if you're nurses because you're not at the top of that pecking order," said Larson. "Not everything a union does is going to hurt your bottom line."

Larson says unions increase health and safety, benefits and wages, and decrease absences.

And yet, while it's unclear what led to this latest decision, Semmens says high dues, unresponsive union officials and political stances are frequent reasons.

"And they're not put under a one-size-fits-all union contract which often hurts individual workers," said Semmens.

The union now has a week to file any objections, which would play out in court. Otherwise, the nurses can file for new representation in about a year.

A spokesperson for the Minnesota Nurses Association calls its removal "a sad step." You can read the MNA's full statement here.

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