Federal Board Indicts Sutter Vallejo for Illegal Imposition of Higher Healthcare Costs to Nurses
NLRB Also Cites Hospital for Retaliation against Nurses Over Strike
The National Labor Relations Board has ordered Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo to stand trial in September on charges that it violated federal law in imposing higher healthcare costs on its registered nurses and illegally imposing discipline on RNs in retaliation for their participation in a strike last year.
In a complaint issued Tuesday, Joseph Frankl, regional director of the NLRB San Francisco region, set a September 9 trial date in San Francisco on the charges over its illegal actions against the nurses.
At issue are two major moves by the Vallejo hospital which is part of the Sutter Health corporate chain.
First, was the decision by Sutter Solano to arbitrarily impose increases in healthcare costs for its RNs last November in response to the refusal of the RNs who are represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, to accept the higher costs and other unwarranted takeaway demands in contract negotiations.
As a result of the illegal imposition, Sutter Solano RNs were beset with hundreds of dollars a month in higher healthcare costs.
To avoid the trial and possible additional sanctions, Sutter Solano could immediately “rescind the implementation” of its demand on medical, dental and vision coverage and reimburse the RNs for any financial losses “they may have suffered” as a result of the illegal cut in health benefits.
The complaint also charges the hospital with violation of the rights of Sutter Solano RNs to engage in collective action by striking to protest the hospital’s contract demands.
In a clear attempt to intimidate the RNs, Sutter Solano threatened to take disciplinary action, up to suspension or firing, of nurses who participated in a one-day strike last December 24. The hospital then demanded that all Sutter Solano RNs indicate in advance their willingness to work on December 24, even those not scheduled for shifts on that day to avoid being locked out for five days.
Following the strike, the hospital issued written disciplinary action against the RNs for not reporting to work during the strike – and even for not working after the one-day strike during the four-day lockout which the hospital imposed.
While Sutter has since withdrawn the disciplinary action against the scores of RNs not scheduled to work on the day of the strike, it has refused to scrap its punitive measures against the RNs who did walk off last December 24, including one RN who was suspended for his outspoken defense of his rights.
The retaliation against dozens of those Sutter Solano RNs will also be addressed in the September trial.
The NLRB complaint this week is in response to charges filed by CNA on both the disciplinary threats and the imposition of the healthcare cuts.
“As this indictment of illegality demonstrates, Sutter has shown contempt for the law by its decision to both impose unconscionable takeaway demands on its nurses, and punish nurses who stand up in protest, said CNA Co-president, Zenei Cortez, RN.
“It is long past time for Sutter to show it would rather have a positive working relationship with its nurses, which is in the best interest of providing a therapeutic environment for patients, than in continuing to pursue unwarranted cuts the health security of their RNs and threaten and harass those who do not go along,” Cortez said.