Nurses at Cedars-Sinai Ask Attorney General To Investigate Hospital’s Antiunion Campaign
Nurses at Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last Wednesday asked Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) to investigate whether hospital officials have "illegally tried to thwart a union organizing drive," the Los Angeles Times reports. Registered nurses at the hospital are scheduled to vote Dec. 11-Dec. 13 on whether to join the California Nurses Association (Hong, Los Angeles Times, 11/28). In September, Cedars-Sinai nurses successfully petitioned for the union vote. Nurses hope to use the collective bargaining power of unionization to negotiate with the hospital on issues of mandatory overtime, nurse-to-patient ratios, improved retirement benefits and seniority-based raises. If the nurses approve joining the union, it would be the "largest organizing victory" for CNA in years (California Healthline, 9/4). According to some nurses and union officials, hospital administrators have hired labor consultants to conduct meetings that nurses call "union-busting sessions." CNA alleges that the hospital has used state funds, including Medi-Cal reimbursements, to pay for the antiunion campaign, in violation of state law. According to the Times, nurses and union officials also have filed a complaint with National Labor Relations Board alleging that the hospital broke "federal labor laws" by "interrogat[ing] nurses about the union drive, conduct[ing] surveillance ... and threaten[ing] to fire employees supporting the union." Jean Flores, a senior vice president at Cedars-Sinai, did not comment on specific allegations but said the hospital's efforts to discourage nurses from joining the union are legal. "We are in a campaign. We do not believe a union is in the organization's or nurses' best interest, and we are making that position clear. But we are doing so within the limits of the law," Flores said. The attorney general's office is investigating the union's claims but has yet made "no determination any law was broken," spokesperson Nathan Barankin said (Los Angeles Times, 11/28).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.