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Federal Court Sanctions Barstow Hospital for Failing­­ to Bargain With RNs…

California Nurses Association/NNU Press Release, 6/26/13

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Injunction Orders Hospital to Stop Interfering with Nurses’ Legal Rights

A U.S. District Judge in Los Angeles Monday issued a federal injunction against Barstow Hospital, ordering it to cease and desist its flagrant violations of the collective bargaining rights of its registered nurses. 

Judge Christina Snyder issued the order in response to a complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board following charges by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United that Barstow has repeatedly and systematically broken federal law with its refusal to hold contract talks and other abridgements of the RNs’ legal and democratic rights.

Barstow, which is affiliated with the nation’s second-largest for-profit hospital chain, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, was given one week, until July 1, to submit any opposition it may have to a request by the NLRB that the judge issue a further order, technically known as a “Section 10(j) injunction.”  A 10 (j) would order the hospital to return to bargaining or face serious penalties that could range from fines to criminal contempt findings if it does not comply. A hearing on that decision was set for July 29.

Another CHS hospital in California, Fallbrook Hospital in Northern San Diego County, was slapped with a 10 (j) injunction earlier this month. Talks between Fallbrook and CNA-represented RNs have since resumed.

Nurses note that 10(j) court orders are very rare and illustrate the severity of the extreme stance taken by CHS in its blatant attack on RN rights at its hospitals, represented by CNA in California and at NNU-affiliated hospitals in Ohio and West Virginia.

Under Judge Snyder’s ruling, Barstow is directly ordered to cease and desist from:

  • Refusing to bargain in good faith with the union on terms and conditions of work;
  • Unilaterally changing unit nurses’ terms and conditions of employment;
  • Setting unreasonable demands as pre-conditions for bargaining, and abruptly shortening or cancelling bargaining sessions.
  • Improperly conditioning bargaining on nurses giving up the use of forms they submit to management (Assignment Despite Objection or ADO) to document assignments they consider to be unsafe for patients.

“Once again we see a CHS hospital upbraided by a federal judge for its wanton and blatant disregard of the democratic, legal rights of its registered nurses to act collectively to protect patients and improve conditions for their colleagues,” said CNA co-president Zenei Cortez, RN.

“From California to West Virginia, we see CHS hospitals trying to bully nurses, block them from advocating for patients, and abusing their fundamental rights under federal law. What we have shown is the nurses will not be silenced, and they will not stop challenging this aggressive, lawless employer,” Cortez said.

At Affinity Medical Center in Massillon, Ohio, an NLRB hearing was held over five days in May concerning the hospital’s refusal to recognize the union as the representative of the nurses and for the illegal firing of a nurse activist. A decision by an NLRB administrative law judge is pending.

Charges are also being pursued against two CHS West Virginia facilities, Bluefield Regional Medical Center in Bluefield and Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Ronceverte.   

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