(MOBILE, AL) – Today, the Fresenius Global Union Alliance (the Alliance), representing more than 50 unions around the world, announced a series of “Solidarity Days” to expose workers’ rights abuses at the German healthcare giant Fresenius, a global kidney dialysis company. The actions come in the wake of the Alliance’s demand that the company sign a Global Agreement on labor standards.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), represents workers at two Fresenius facilities in Alabama, and is in the process of organizing other Alabama facilities and several other states. The Alliance is calling for Fresenius to enter into a global agreement to address its track record of failing to follow international labor standards in several countries, including the United States where labor law has long paled in comparison to the global standard.
In the United States, Fresenius has a long history of using third party consultants to stop employees from forming a union at its clinics. The company has paid out more than $400,000 to union busters, who often use fear tactics and other questionable methods to stop organizing efforts. U.S. workers have been forced to attend anti-union indoctrination sessions, and others report “one on one” interactions to pressure them from supporting a union.
In April, the RWDSU announced that the union was able to secure a strong contract for workers that protects the technicians that provide critical care to patients in Mobile, Alabama. The contract set a scheduling protection precedent, which has brought stability to both workers and patients’ lives. At the time of the contract announcement the union stated that “the contract should set a standard not just for the global employer, but the industry,” – now the Fresenius Global Union Alliance seeks to ensure the company’s labor standards are the same across the world by demanding the company sign a global agreement.
“The healthcare workers at Fresenius had one goal in seeking a union contract, care for their patients – they won – and now it’s time to ensure those standards extend to all Fresenius workers across the globe,” Randy Hadley, President of the Mid-South Council of the RWDSU said. “Together in global solidarity I know we can continue to spread the strong provisions in our first contract to so many other facilities where critical care like this is given to so many suffering from kidney disease and health issues. Fresenius needs to sign the Global Agreement now.”
“We began this fight because we have seen a downward trend in our workplace and felt that no one was listening. Fresenius needs to respect our desires to organize a union and gain a collective voice to ensure that our patients lives and those that care for those patients are the top priority for Fresenius going forward,” said Samantha Anderson, RWDSU member and Fresenius worker in Alabama.
As part of the announcement of the “Solidarity Days” by the Alliance, the Mid-South Council of the RWDSU is launching an informational website where the public will be able to sign up for updates on the treatment of workers at Fresenius. The website www.ChangeDialysis.org, will also provide information for workers seeking fair labor standards in their workplaces, as well as ways for patients and their family members to get involved in supporting workers.
The RWDSU represents healthcare workers across the U.S. in Alabama, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. This announcement comes among a string of organizing and contract wins in the South for the RWDSU this year. The union continues to win organizing campaigns in Right-to-Work states, bringing a union voice for workers in previously vehemently anti-union workplaces.
In May 2019, more than 50 representatives of employees and trade unions from Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia met in Frankfurt to launch the Fresenius Global Union Alliance. The Alliance is coordinated by global unions PSI and UNI. The unions seek a global agreement with the company covering its 280,000 workers in 100 countries.