Federal Government Indicts Sutter Memorial for Violating Labor Law-Trial Set for August 5
The federal agency that oversees labor law has ordered Memorial Medical Center, a Sutter facility located in Modesto, to stand trial on charges that it violated RNs’ right of free speech, guaranteed under federal labor law.
An administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will conduct the hearing, which is scheduled to begin on Aug. 5 at Region 32 of the NLRB in Oakland.
“Nurses act as advocates for patients at their most vulnerable moments,” said Melanie Thompson, an RN who works in the critical care unit of the hospital. “We are seeking to join CNA/NNU so that we can be patient advocates without fear of discipline or reprisal. Unfortunately, Memorial continues to interfere with our legal rights to organize and advocate for our patients and our families."
The charges against Memorial Medical Center were brought by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU), which is meeting with Sutter Memorial RNs who are seeking representation with the organization.
The RNs called on CNA in response to serious patient care concerns and chronic problems with retention of experienced RNs who they say are ignored by hospital administration. There are currently more than 1,000 RNs employed at Memorial eligible for representation by CNA/NNU.
The NLRB cited the facility last December for violation of federal labor law rights that permit employees to distribute information about union representation. The incident occurred in August 2012, when security guards followed an off-duty Memorial nurse into her break room, confiscated her pro-CNA flyers, and informed her that she didn’t have the right to provide the information to other nurses in the hospital. As a result, the hospital agreed to a settlement stating that nurses had the right to hand out union materials on non-work time.
The Board has again indicted Memorial for violating its distribution policy and issued a complaint on May 23.
The complaint against Memorial Medical Center also alleges that the hospital violated federal labor law by interfering with, restraining, and intimidating employees in the exercise of their (union activity) rights guaranteed by federal labor law, and illegal coercion of nurses to oppose CNA representation.
CNA/NNU is the largest and fastest-growing professional organization of direct-care registered nurses in the nation, representing 180,000 RNs across the country in 300 facilities. In the Modesto area, CNA/NNU represents RNs at Kaiser Permanente, and Doctors Medical Center.