A unionizing campaign at one of the country’s top hospitals is heating up. The National Nurses United announced Monday that they filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Relations Labor Board against Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital for allegedly preventing nurses from talking about the benefits of joining a union. “Right now Hopkins is making it extremely difficult for nurses to talk to each other about how organizing a union will improve patient care,” said Kate Phillips, 30, a registered nurse in the hospital’s Medical Intensive Care Unit.

The nurses allege while the hospital is giving anti-union consultants “free reign” to promote “anti-union propaganda,” they were prevented from speaking to nurses in other units.

In an email, Hopkins spokesperson Kim Hoppe wrote that the hospital “deeply respect(s) our nurses, their contributions to our organization, and all of their rights as employees including their right to support or oppose a union.“ She added, “We are committed to maintaining our longstanding culture of collaboration and open communication with them and with all of our employees in order to provide the highest quality of care.”

Nurses at Hopkins have been working with NNU since last year over concerns the hospital was jeopardizing patient care with low staff-to-patient ratios. They also cited high turnover rates and lower pay then unionized counterparts.

“Our goal is to improve patient care, empower nurses to stand up for patients, and to have a safe working environment to provide the best patient care possible,” Phillips said.

In April, a group of Hopkins nurses wrote a letter to hospital management protesting the hospital’s decision to hire high-profile union busting firm Littler-Mendelson, and demanded the hospital halt its “union-busting campaign.” At the time hospital responded with a statement that it “has deep respect for the nurses and their rights as employees to support or oppose a union.”

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Jaisal is currently the Democracy Initiative Manager at the Solutions Journalism Network and is a former TRNN host, producer, and reporter. He mainly grew up in the Baltimore area and studied modern history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before joining TRNN, he contributed print, radio, and TV reports to Free Speech Radio News, Democracy Now! and The Indypendent. Jaisal's mother has taught in the Baltimore City Public School system for the past 25 years. Follow him on Twitter @jaisalnoor.