Kaiser, Nurses Head to Arbitration Over Strike

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge signed off on an agreement between Kaiser and the California Nurses Association to arbitrate claims that a 2011 sympathy strike violated a collective bargaining agreement.
     Kaiser sued the nurses group for breaching a "no-strike" clause in their most recent agreement by engaging in a 24-hour sympathy strike to support the National Union of Healthcare Workers. That three-year agreement, which commenced just weeks before the strike, contained a provision stating "there shall be no strikes, lockouts or other stoppages or interruptions of work during the life of this agreement."
     The hospital giant sought to compel the dispute to arbitration as also laid out in the contract. For its part, the union argued that "CNA's strike was a sympathy strike and such strikes are not prohibited under the CBA."
     U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti acknowledged early last year that the provision in question was "at least ambiguous," but noted that the agreement itself states that arbitration is the "'sole and exclusive remedy for any and all disputes or rights arising from or relating to'" the CBA.
     Nearly two years later Kaiser and the CNA finally agreed, and on Monday Conti dismissed the suit in favor of arbitration. He retained jurisdiction of the case, however, to "enforce judgment upon the final and binding arbitration award in the event enforcement proceedings are necessary."