Hearing Set in Dispute Between Barstow Hospital, Nurses
San Bernardino Sun, 5/21/13
By Jim Steinberg, Staff Writersbsun.com
BARSTOW -- A dispute between newly unionized nurses and Barstow Community Hospital will be heard by an administrative law judge next month in Los Angeles.
The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against the hospital. The hearing will take place June 17.
The Registered Nurses at Barstow Community Hospital group voted to join the California Nursing Association-National Nurses United union in May 2012 and began negotiating their first contract with the hospital in July.
The hospital is owned by Tennessee-based Community Health Systems.
The NLRB complaint alleges that at various times since July 2012, the hospital and the union met for collective bargaining on wages, hours, and terms of conditions of employment. But the hospital has "failed and refused to bargain with the union over terms of a contract until union discontinues the use of Assignment-Despite-Objection forms," according to union officials.
These are forms, developed by the union, for hospital nurses to fill out when they have been asked to do something they believe to be unsafe, either for nurses, patients or both, said Charles Idelson, a union spokesman.
"We want a voice in how we practice and the way we approach our care," said Mary Moon, a nurse at the hospital. "We want to be patient advocates."
The NLRB also alleges the hospital unilaterally changed how nurses obtain required training, which is a topic that is "a mandatory subject for the purposes of collective bargaining. "
As a result of the hospital's action, nurses are no longer paid in full for the time spent to complete training for certifications or recertifications, the complaint says.
The NLRB is seeking an order for the hospital to "bargain in good faith with the union. "
In October, Barstow Community Hospital opened a new facility with an additional 15,000 square feet and an expanded emergency room that includes a trauma bay and an airborne infection exam room.
It also acquired new imaging equipment.
Last week a federal administrative law judge asked the NLRB to order Fallbrook Hospital in northern San Diego County to end illegal evasive tactics and return to contract negotiations with its registered nurses, said Idelson.
That hospital is also owned by Community Health Systems.
"The hospital is reviewing the judge's recommendation and considering its options, including whether to take this matter on to the full National Labor Relations Board," said John Rader, a Barstow Community Hospital spokesman.
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