Nurses at Bozeman Deaconess hospital have been picketing this week over what they see as unfairness in the workplace.

According to the Executive Director of the Montana Nurses Association, Lori Chovanak, The complaints center around a reduction in wages for certain nurses, new employees being offered a higher pay scale for the same work and skill level as current employees, and a culture of bullying that has created a hostile work environment.

"One particular nurse was basically brought to tears in front of patients and other nurses at a nurses station," says Montana Nurses Association Labor Representative Robin Haux. According to Haux, the nurse was not being disciplined, but was "addressed inappropriately" while on the floor.

Lori Chovanak and Robin Haux:

"The bullying issue isn't just at Deaconess either," says Haux. "It's a national issue, it's a Montana issue. What I've seen and what has been brought to my attention is nurses being disciplined, not in private but out in front of other nurses and patients." Haux says other nurses report feeling "beat down" by bullying in the workplace.

The Montana Nurses Association and Bozeman Deaconess hospital administration are in contract negotiations today (Feb. 20) and tomorrow over these issues. According to Haux, who recently spoke with an associate at the bargaining table, the hospital is "being responsive" to the complaints.

Representatives from MEA-MFT, other local unions, as well as nurses from Washington and Ohio came to Bozeman to join the picket line on Tuesday

Chovanak says around 250 people showed up to picket. She also said that new training regarding workplace bullying is one of the items on the negotiation agenda.