SEIU Files Suit Against Two Santa Monica Nursing Homes, Alleging Misuse of Medi-Cal Funds
Service Employees International Union Local 399 has filed a lawsuit against two nursing homes operated by Santa Monica Convalescent Centers, alleging that the homes' operators violated a state law that prohibits the use of state funding to "deter union organizing," the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. Under the California State Neutrality Act, employers or supervisors are barred from using taxpayer dollars "to speak for or against forming a union, distributing materials about the union or forming committees or bringing in consultants to discourage or interfere with employees forming a union." According to SEIU officials, about 60% of 100 certified nurse assistants, laundry and housekeeping workers and other staff at the two homes signed cards this winter stating that they would allow SEIU to negotiate their contracts. However, SEIU alleges that "in retaliation," the nursing homes forced workers to attend "captive" meetings during which supervisors used "scare tactics" to urge workers against joining the union (Lota, AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/20). The lawsuit alleges that the nursing homes used Medi-Cal funds to "research, prepare, plan and coordinate the employer's campaign to deter union organizing." SEIU officials also allege that a scheduled March 21 vote on the unionization never took place because of the nursing homes' "unlawful threats" (SEIU release, 6/19). SEIU lead counsel Michael Wall said, "We're bringing this case to enforce state law and to ensure that this employer doesn't misuse state funds. In addition, we're asking for an injunction prohibiting the employer from using state funds to promote or deter union organizing in the future." Nursing home administrator Art Crispino did not comment on the lawsuit (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/20).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.