St. Peter's Health fires consultant accused in labor compliant

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Posted at 6:01 PM, Oct 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-06 12:23:53-04

HELENA — St. Peter's Health has fired an out-of-state consultant Niles Commer who was accused in a labor complaint.

On September 1, registered nurses at St. Peters Health filed to hold an election, to vote, to join the current Professional Nurses Union. After their filling St. Peter’s hired Commer.

Commer has been accused of being anti-union, and of trying to dissuade the RNs from pursuing unionization efforts and failing to file necessary reports to the U.S. Department of Labor.

In a statement last week St. Peters Health denied that any violation had occurred.

In response to the hospital hiring Commer, the nurses launched a petition asking St. Peters to “invest in nurses, not consultants,” according to a press release, from the Montana Nurses Association.

In less than a week, over 900 people and counting signed the petition in support of St. Peters nurses.

The Montana Nurses Association said the petition pointed to broad community support for the nurses.

“Our last check was there’s over 1000 signature on the petition so that just shows the nurses that are going through this process they’re supported by many people across the state of Montana,” said Vicky Byrd, CEO of Montana Nurses Association.

MNA is the recognized advocate for the Professional Nurses in Montana and represents over 3,000 nurses.

“The nurses seeing all that support coming in for them it really increased their morale as well. So that’s uplifting and it makes them know that what they’re doing every day is really appreciated,” Byrd said.

Earlier this week the Daily Montanan reported a document had been leaked that was allegedly compiled by Commer that was reported to contain personal information and work details of nurses.

In a statement to MTN, St. Peter’s Health confirmed the document leak, and said it had parted ways with its consultant.

“We were made aware of an incident last week where a document containing sensitive information became accessible beyond the intended recipients. It is our responsibility to safeguard the privacy and well-being of our employees, and as such, we take full responsibility for this incident occurring. We can confirm we are no longer working with any third-party consultants, but the more important issue is that this incident was inconsistent with our values. We are conducting an internal investigation and will respond as appropriate based on the findings.”

MNA says unionization efforts are still ongoing, with a vote scheduled for October 17.