NLRB Rules Some New Jersey Doctors Can Bargain Collectively
The National Labor Relations Board last Thursday ruled that doctors employed by the Occupational Health Centers of New Jersey are "employees, not supervisors" and should therefore be allowed to bargain collectively, the Chicago Tribune reports. The American Medical Association said it considers the decision, which applies only to physicians, a "victory" for its union, Physicians for Responsible Negotiation, adding that the decision could "help clarify future attempts by physicians to organize." The union suffered a "major setback" in 2001, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that nurses and other health care workers should be "excluded from bargaining if their duties included supervising others" (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 2/5). Such workers, the court ruled, use "independent judgement" to direct other workers and are "in effect" supervisors. The AMA said that the ruling "contrasted" with previous NLRB rulings that health care professionals who exercised "ordinary professional or technical judgement" in directing less-skilled workers were not supervisors (California Healthline, 6/7/01). Dr. Susan Adelman, AMA board member and president of PRN, said the NLRB's New Jersey decision "sends a message to employers that they cannot label all physicians as 'supervisors.'" She added, "This is going to help us a lot." The Occupational Health Centers said it plans to appeal the NLRB's ruling. Richard Parr, general counsel for Dallas-based Concentra Inc., the parent company of Occupational Health Centers, said, "We would just like some clarity on the area of appropriateness of physician unionization in the context of our health care clinic" (Chicago 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.