Fallbrook Hospital May Be Forced to Negotiate with Nurses
San Diego Union Tribune, 5/21/13
By R.J. Ignelzi, May 20, 2013
Fallbrook Hospital may be forced to return to contract negotiations with its registered nurses.
The National Labor Relations Board is set to go to federal court June 5 to request a rare federal injunction to force the hospital to comply with federal labor law.
Last May, Fallbrook RNs voted to join the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. After initial meetings to discuss a collective bargaining contract, hospital officials walked away from talks.
In a 24-page decision, National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Eleanor Laws said that Fallbrook Hospital engaged in a variety of “avoidance tactics (that) changed over time,” and showed “basic intransigence.” She characterized the hospital’s bargaining agent as “obstinate and pugnacious.”
As part of the decision, the judge dismissed the hospital’s excuse for failure to bargain because of the nurses’ use of CNA forms to report unsafe patient assignments. She also said the hospital had violated the law by failure to bargain with the union over the firings of a few nurses who CNA says were deliberately targeted by the hospital for their union advocacy.
The infractions violate a fundamental premise of the National Labor Relations Act that obligates the parties to “confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment,” Laws said.
Fallbrook Hospital declined to comment.
Fallbrook Hospital is part of the for-profit Community Health Systems, a Tennessee-based hospital chain. Four other CHS hospitals across the country, including Barstow Hospital in Barstow, Calif., are facing similar sanctions.
“The hospitals should want to be working with their nurses to address concerns about quality of care. But, they’re not and they’re clearly not community oriented,” said Charles Idelson, spokesman for National Nurses United, the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in America.