New NLRB Trial Against CHS, Quorum and Affiliates for Multiple and Repeated Labor Violations Begins
First Hearing Will Focus on Violations at Bluefield Regional Medical Center in West Virginia
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will commence a new trial against Community Health Systems (CHS) and its affiliates, for multiple and repeated labor violations, on Monday, March 27 in Beaver, W.Va.
The trial, prosecuted by the NLRB's General Counsel, will hear a complaint issued by the NLRB last September consolidating 11 charges, covering 50 unfair labor practices filed against CHS and five hospitals staffed by RNs affiliated with National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU). The hospitals are: Bluefield Regional Medical Center, Bluefield, W. Va.; Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, Ronceverte, W.Va.; Affinity Medical Center, Massillon, Ohio; Barstow Community Hospital, Barstow, Calif.; and Watsonville Community Hospital, Watsonville, Calif.
In a desperate effort to stave off hearing on these rampant labor violations, CHS filed suit in a United Stated District Court in Kentucky on March 22 seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) to halt the hearing. That effort was quickly disposed of by the Chief Judge, who issued an order on March 24 denying the request for a TRO and dismissing the action entirely. The NLRB hearing will proceed as scheduled on Monday.
“We are thankful this hearing will bring attention to the serious labor violations CHS has committed,” said Brenda Meadwell, RN, of Bluefield Regional Medical Center. “However, we are very disappointed CHS would spend so much money, time and effort fighting nurses who are simply seeking to act collectively in the best interest of safe patient care.”
This is the second massive national complaint against CHS issued by the NLRB last year for numerous labor violations at the five hospitals and the first time the NLRB has named Quorum as the successor to CHS. The hospitals in Ohio and California were sold last year to Quorum Health Corporation, a spinoff created by CHS.
The new trial will begin with the NLRB’s allegations of flagrantly unlawful conduct by Bluefield Regional Medical Center (BRMC), which would not even recognize that the union represents its registered nurses until forced to by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 18, 2016, almost four years after registered nurses at BRMC voted to be represented by the union.
The hearing on Bluefield Regional Medical Canter in Bluefield, W.Va. will take place March 27 - 30, at the National Mine Academy-MSHA (US Dept. of Labor), 1301 Airport Rd, Beaver, W.Va.
The trial begins against a backdrop of turmoil at the troubled hospital chain including management's sell-off of hospitals in an attempt to raise $1.8 billion to pay down their huge debt. Earlier this year, CHS settled a lawsuit brought by shareholders alleging the company’s directors and officers breached their fiduciary duties by causing CHS to develop and implement admissions criteria that systematically steered patients into unnecessary inpatient admissions, in contravention of Medicare and Medicaid regulations, when they should have been treated as outpatients. Shareholders from QHC, the CHS spinoff, have filed a class action complaint alleging that QHC executive offices made a series of false and misleading statements and failed to disclose appropriately to investors regarding performance at the time of the CHS spinoff.
Recently the company's largest shareholder, Chinese billionaire Tianqiao Chen, whose passive investments have plummeted, indicated that he may seek involvement in company governance to hasten the turnaround of the company or promote its sale.
CHS has engaged in rampant and serious unfair labor practices at all of the locations named in the consolidated complaint, including terminating RN leaders in a wide-scale attempt to weaken support for the union and forestall reaching initial collective bargaining agreements. The NLRB has upheld numerous unfair labor practice charges filed against the hospitals by NNOC/NNU, and US District Courts have issued injunctions in response to the employer's unlawful conduct in contract negotiations with RNs.