NLRB Sues California Hospital for Nurses

     RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) — The National Labor Relations Board sued Barstow Community Hospital for denying unionized nurses annual pay raises and disciplining them for working overtime.
     The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee union filed two administrative complaints against the hospital, alleging bad-faith bargaining.
     Barstow Community Hospital is a 30-bed, acute-care facility owned by Community Health Systems. Barstow, pop. 23,000, is on the western edge of the Mojave Desert.
     According to the NLRB’s federal complaint, in early 2015 the hospital implemented began requiring intensive care nurses to do electronic full-body patient assessments every four hours; stopped granting nurses annual pay raises; and unilaterally altered its disciplinary policies on overtime, causing several union nurses to receive reprimands.
     Though the union requested information about these changes, including training materials, written copies of the altered policies, a list of nurses disciplined for overtime, and a timeline for implementing the new rules, the hospital refused to hand anything over, the NLRB says in the July 21 lawsuit.
     The hospital had no intention of truly negotiating with nurses, the NLRB says. All of its proposals were either “predictably unacceptable” or designed to weaken the union’s bargaining authority, and it refused to collaborate with the union to iron out differences.
     The union asked for an investigation from the NLRB, which found reasonable cause to pursue charges of unfair business practices and labor code violations against the hospital.
     Only the complaint concerning denial of annual raises is before an administrative law judge. The NLRB asked to consolidate that case with the charge of unilateral disciplinary changes, but the judge denied the motion and has yet to schedule a separate hearing for that case.
     If the hospital is not stopped from enforcing its unilateral policy changes, it will continue blatantly depriving nurses of their collective bargaining rights, weakening union support among nurses, and eroding the NLRB’s authority to enforce labor laws, according to the lawsuit.
     Hospital spokesman John Rader told Courthouse News in an email: “Barstow Community Hospital is aware of the lawsuit filed by the National Labor Relations Board. This is an interim, legal matter with no impact on our daily operations. Patients can continue to count on us for safe, quality care.”
     The board seeks an injunction to stop the hospital from enforcing its new policies and an order that it supply the union the requested materials and engage in good-faith bargaining. It is represented by in-house counsel Steven Wyllie, who declined to comment.

%d bloggers like this: