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Latest News - April 2010

April 22, 2010
Title: Nurses May have to vote again to oust union
Source: Lee’s Summit Journal
Author: Miranda Wycoff


Lee’s Summit Medical Center officials are puzzled, to say the least, by the recent findings of the regional office of the Labor Relations Board.

The nurses there voted 68 to 59 to decertify their union in October 2009, a vote that was overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. But in March Michael Werner, the NLRB hearing officer, recommended that the union desertification election be re-held.

“We were shocked and surprised by the number of alleged objections and also by the ruling that was made,” said Damond Boatwright, CEO of Lee’s Summit Medical Center in an exclusive interview with the Journal on Thursday.

“We continue to side with the nurses at our hospital, a majority of which voted in an election overseen by the NLRB to decertify the union,” he said. “We’re going to continue to fight this process as long as possible.”

The National Nurses Organizing Committee-California Nurses Association filed 15 objections to the original vote. After conducting the hearing in February, Werner, found four of those objections had merit, thus recommending to re-hold the election to decertify the union.

Werner upheld the allegations made by the union that the hospital had:

  • Removed union literature from a break room during the week of the election
  • Imposed stricter working conditions attributed to the union contract
  • Created an impression of surveillance of pro-union employees and
  • Interrogated employees about views and contact with the union.

The National Labor Relations Board will make the final decision, and a date for that has yet to be set. Boatwright said hospital administration can file a rebuttal — dates for which were originally set for April 8, but have been pushed back — and they are looking into their legal options.

“We still feel like there weren’t any legal grounds for the ruling,” Boatwright said.

But more than that, Boatwright said, he is disappointed the objections were even made.

“We didn’t run an anti-union campaign. That’s not something we would do,” he said. “What’s most disappointing about this is at the time of the election, the union reps had free access to the building. They had access to the break rooms, the cafeteria. We followed the terms of the contract to allow them access of the facility.”

While Boatwright didn’t address each objection individually, he did say that each break room has a locked bulletin board available to the NNOC-CNA to post union literature.

“We don’t have the key,” he said.

However, according to Werner’s report, testimony implied that a supervisor threw away union literature that was left on a break room table. During the hearing, the supervisor testified he was just cleaning the break room, according to the report.

But regardless of the outcome of the final ruling by the NRLB, and even if the desertification has to be put up to another vote, Boatwright said he and the rest of the administration at Lee’s Summit Medical Center will continue to try and facilitate a “healthy work environment.”

“We have the utmost confidence in our nurses and their ability to choose,” Boatwright said.
“I feel passionate about creating a healthy work environment,” he added, which he said includes an employee advisory group and a peer appeal group to review disciplinary actions.

Until the National Labor Relations Board makes their ruling, the nurses at Lee’s Summit Medical Center will still be represented by the NNOC-CNA.

And also until the NLRB makes the decision, the hospital will go on with “business as usual,” Boatwright said. “We’re going to focus on the things we can control,” he said. “We’re going to make sure we provide the highest quality of care, we’re going to stay visible and active in the community and we’re going to continue to create a healthy work environment.

“We’re going to steer clear of talking about the union and our feelings about the union and the results.”





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