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U.S. District judge: BCH must negotiate Hospital could be slapped with fines if not compliant

Desert Dispatch, 8/6/13

After more than a year-long failure to reach an initial contract, a U.S. District judge has ruled Barstow Community Hospital must bargain with its registered nurses’ representative or potentially face fines.

A 10(j) injunction was levied against BCH last week and comes on the heels of a temporary restraining order issued against the hospital June 24.

The two sides — Community Health System-backed BCH and the California Nurses Association union — have been at an impasse since the CNA was certified in June of last year as the RN’s exclusive representative for the purposes of collective bargaining.

The CNA represents 75 RNs at the hospital, according to a court order.

The union has for several months contended that BCH has either refused or delayed bargaining or not bargained in good faith.

The union also said, among other things, that BCH implemented a new RN training policy without first seeking approval of the CNA, according to the July 29 motion for temporary injunction obtained by the Desert Dispatch.

BCH spokesman John Rader said talks are continuing.

“We respect the court’s decision,” Rader wrote via email Monday. “We have met in negotiations with the CNA several times in July and are continuing to do so towards an initial bargaining agreement.”

A meeting July 10 was the first between the two sides since January, according to Mike Ziemer, a critical care nurse at the hospital.

“We came together, but CHS still does not want any meaningful bargaining,” Ziemer said.

He lists control over patient care and a nurse’s pay scale as two of the union’s most sought-after things.

He was asked if the injunction had changed anything.

“I want to be optimistic, I really do,” he said, “but just from (CHS’) attitude in the past, I don’t know if it’s going to change or not.”

“It may take fines,” he added. “There attitude has been, we are just a bother to them.”

The hospital must file with the court a sworn affidavit detailing how they have since complied with the order by Aug. 23.

Another CHS hospital in California, Fallbrook Hospital in Northern San Diego County, was slapped with a 10 (j) injunction in July.

Writer of this article, Shea Johnson, can be reached at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com or 760-256-4126.

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