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13_Latest News - January 2010

13_January 21, 2010
St. Anthony workers won't be unionized
By Christian Livermore - Times Herald-Record

WARWICK — Certified nursing assistants and other workers at St. Anthony Community Hospital in Warwick will not be unionized, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled.

The ruling is on the Oct. 30, 2008, election that was immediately contested and has been in limbo ever since. The count was 121 to 118 in favor of unionizing, but pro-union workers challenged 11 additional ballots they said were cast by managers and clerical workers who were not eligible to vote.

An administrative law judge ruled that five of the challenged ballots should be opened. When they were, they tipped the vote against the union.

"We're pleased with the ruling," said hospital spokeswoman Deborah Marshall. "We had anticipated that this is the way that it would go, and we're pleased to move on."

But it's not over yet

The labor relations board is still preparing to hear complaints about unfair management tactics in opposing the union bid. St. Anthony agreed in January 2009 to a settlement on other charges that it violated the rights of workers trying to unionize. The hospital admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to post notices throughout its facilities listing anti-union activities in which it will not engage.

The new round of hearings will probably take place in February.

Those hearings could still influence the outcome of the election, said Dave Bates, spokesman for 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which is bidding to represent the St. Anthony workers. Union officials contend that some of the 11 challenged ballots were cast by people that management forced into the bargaining unit just before the vote, so if the hearings find that management used questionable tactics, that could call even the five opened ballots into question.

But beyond the "he said/she said" of the election process, Bates said focus should remain on the issues for which workers tried to unionize.

"Workers should have a chance to vote without a management campaign, without fear, intimidation and misinformation," he said, "and St. Anthony workers deserve affordable health care, job security and good wages."



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