Nurses at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Begin Three-Day Unionization Vote
More than 1,500 registered nurses at Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the largest private hospital in California, yesterday began a three-day vote on whether to join the California Nurses Association, the Los Angeles Times reports. CNA and the hospital have fought a "nasty battle" over the unionization campaign (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 12/11). In November, nurses at Cedars-Sinai asked Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) to investigate whether hospital officials have "illegally tried to thwart a union organizing drive." Nurses and union officials also have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board based on allegations that hospital officials questioned nurses about the unionization campaign, conducted surveillance and threatened to terminate employees who support unionization. Cedars-Sinai nurses petitioned for the unionization vote in September. The nurses hope that unionization will allow them to negotiate with the hospital on issues such as mandatory overtime, nurse-to-patient ratios, improved retirement benefits and seniority-based raises (California Healthline, 12/2). Thomas Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai, said that the hospital "strives to be responsive to its nurses -- and doesn't need" a union to participate in contract negotiations with nurses, the Times reports. He added, "The union model is not a model that we believe works best for our employees." However, nurses who support unionization said that the hospital "can do more," the Times reports. Jill Furillo, CNA director of government relations, said, "They're trying to depict unionization efforts as trying to tear the hospital down. We're trying to build the hospital back up as a great hospital where nurses feel valued and have an equal voice." The unionization vote will end tomorrow (Los Angeles Times, 12/11).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.