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Judge orders Affinity to bargain with union, 7/2/13

CANTON—A judge ruled Affinity Medical Center violated federal labor laws and ordered the hospital to bargain with the registered nurses’ union and reinstate a nurse fired for union activity.

Affinity says it will appeal the decision.

National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Arthur Amchan issued a 36-page ruling Monday based on a hearings held April 29 through May 5 in Cleveland.

The National Nurses Organizing Committee-Ohio, an affiliate of National Nurses United, filed several labor complaints against Affinity and its parent company, Community Health Systems. The complaints cited the hospital’s refusal to bargain with the union, which was certified last year.

“We are very pleased with this decision,” Michelle Offenberger, a registered nurse at Affinity, said in statement. “Affinity nurses are looking forward to bargaining with CHS for a contract that will give us the ability to ensure the safety of our patients.”

The judge ordered the hospital to reinstate Ann Wayt, an orthopedic nurse for 23 years, with back pay and restitution of benefit or pension losses, and withdraw efforts to have Wayt’s nursing license pulled by the Ohio State Board of Nursing. Wayt was fired in September and never had been disciplined before that month.

“I was confident that the truth would come out,” Wayt said in a statement. “The judge has spoken for me. I want to thank the community, the nurses at Affinity, and the nurses across the country for their support.”

The judge also ordered the hospital to stop firing, disciplining or otherwise discriminating against other registered nurses.


“Affinity Medical Center is fully committed to taking the actions necessary to ensure high-quality, safe care for our patients,” said Susan Koosh, vice president of marketing and community relations at Affinity, in an emailed statement. “We believe the termination of this nurse was warranted, and we intend to promptly file an appeal in this case.”

The NNOC represents about 225 registered nurses at Affinity, which is part of Tennessee-based Community Health Systems.

The judge ordered Affinity to post a notice at the hospital for 60 days informing its employees that it had been found by the NLRB to have violated federal labor law, and that the employees have the right to join and assist a union, and the employer cannot engage in acts of retaliation, discrimination or other threats.

The judge also ruled that the hospital must end threats and other acts of retaliation against nurses who submit objection forms to the employer documenting assignments they believe are unsafe. The hospital also must stop denying access to the hospital of union representatives.

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