New Nurse Unionization Law at Center of Dispute in Palomar Pomerado Health System
In the latest skirmish between pro-union nurses in the Palomar Pomerado Health System and administrators, the system may challenge a new state law that allows nurses to approve unionization through signatures rather than a vote, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Nurses at the system, which includes the Palomar Medical Center in Escondido and Pomerado Hospital in Poway, have been requesting an election "for months" to decide whether a majority of the 600 nurses want to join the California Nurses Association. Their efforts became "easier and faster" on Jan. 1, when AB 1281, which allows supporters to "simply gather signatures of more than 50% of the unit" to approve unionization, took effect. According to Jan France, a pro-union nurse, a signature campaign began Jan. 21 and is "going extremely well." But system officials, who have been accused by nurses of using "delay tactics" to block a vote, now say that the pro-union nurses are "circumventing the process." Gil Taylor, Palomar's vice president of human resources, said, "We think it's the height of hypocrisy. They feel they have a better chance of winning with the authorization cards rather than from an election." Taylor said he thinks the system could be the first public agency in the state to be affected by the new law, and he "hinted" that the system might seek to have the law overturned in court. "This new law is really untested. I don't know if you can take away the right of people to vote in the privacy of a polling booth." But France and Ted Cahill, a CNA organizer, rejected that argument, saying that administrators "intimidated" nurses when they held their last union election in 1995 by standing "outside the polling booth and wathch[ing] who went in to vote." The pro-union nurses lost that election by 14 votes (Berhman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.