Federal Agency Seeks Court Order to Require Sutter Memorial to Stop Illegal Actions vs. RNs
California Nurses Association Press Release, 6/4/14
RNs to Vote on Joining CNA as Employer Steps Up Anti-Democratic Tactics against Nurses’ Rights
The National Labor Relations Board Wednesday morning petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals to order Sutter Memorial Medical Center in Modesto to properly post federal notices informing employees that it is required to stop engaging in illegal harassment and other pressure tactics to coerce registered nurses to vote against their right to form a union.
However, even as the court action is unfolding, Sutter Memorial, nurses say, is showing its disdain for prior federal sanctions against its violations of federal labor law by escalating efforts to intimidate and threaten RNs to vote against joining CNA. A secret ballot election is scheduled June 26 and 27. The election will affect some 850 Sutter Memorial RNs.
Those illegal actions include pulling RNs away from patient care assignments – which leaves patient care areas seriously understaffed – to attend mandatory anti-union meetings. Sutter managers, charges CNA, are also browbeating nurses while they are in in patient care areas and before scheduled shifts to vote against CNA.
“We are appalled that Sutter would make an already serious problem that the RNs have reported of inadequate staffing even worse by requiring nurses to leave the bedside and to interfere with nurses while they are trying to care for our patients to be pressured to vote against CNA representation,” said CNA Co-President Malinda Markowitz, RN.
“This disgraceful behavior is a reminder why so many RNs in Sutter and around the country are seeking collective voice to advocate for our patients and themselves. It’s time for Sutter Memorial and their corporate executives in Sacramento to respect the RNs and stop interfering with their legal, democratic rights,” Markowitz said.
The filing of the petition today follows the announcement earlier this week that Region 32 in Oakland of the NLRB, the federal agency that oversees private sector labor-management relations, informed Sutter and CNA that it would pursue “enforcement proceedings” against the hospital because of Sutter Memorial’s violation of an order from January to post notices that it would fully comply with federal law.
In November, an NLRB administrative law judge found that Sutter Memorial had violated the law earlier in the year by requiring RNs to attend a class at which a hospital executive had promised to fix serious staffing shortages if the nurses voted against CNA. Hospital managers then compounded the illegal behavior by harassing RNs who distributed flyers outside the meeting criticizing the meeting. Sutter did not appeal that decision.
Sutter Memorial was required to post a notice in January that it would cease the illegal activity against the RNs and officially inform employees of their legal, protected right to form and join a union and to act together with other employees to further that effort.
When Sutter did finally post the notices, it illegally coupled them with a side letter from the hospital CEO and human resources director denouncing the NLRB decision and making clear that it intended to continue, in violation of federal law, pressuring RNs to vote against CNA representation.
To carry out that effort, CNA estimates that Sutter Memorial has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants it has hired, money diverted from patient care services.
This morning the NLRB’s Office of the General Council in Washington followed the Region’s recommendation and petitioned the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to order Sutter Memorial to post the notices in a legal manner. If the Court of Appeals issues the order, continued failure to comply by Sutter Memorial could result in contempt citations.