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Latest News - May 2010

May 5, 2010
Union Charges Dismissed Against Kitsap Mental Health Services
Source: Kitsap Sun
Author: Rachel Pritchett


The National Labor Relations Board has dismissed unfair-labor charges brought against Kitsap Mental Health Services by the Service Employees International Union.

Of a dozen allegations contained in the charges, the NLRB rejected eight outright and another four conditionally. The NLRB stated those were “arguable meritorious.” A final determination on the four is due in six months.

The union said it will appeal.

Late last year, a majority of KMHS employees signed a petition to withdraw recognition of the union. Some said it was promoting a hostile relationship that didn’t exist between staff and management in contract negotiations.

The union local — SEIU Healthcare 1199NW — represented more than 200 workers in a variety of capacities, including therapists, office workers and janitors.

Management accepted the petition and some members of both staff and management considered the union out.

The union filed charges of unfair labor practices with the NLRB. Allegations focused on whether management unlawfully withdrew union recognition, as well as other points of contention stemming from the contract negotiations.

In a ruling dated April 30, the NLRB outright dismissed the allegation that management unlawfully withdrew recognition.

Another of the eight charges dismissed outright by the NLRB involved a $1,000 KMHS bonus the union alleged was inappropriately given to employees.

Some of the four SEIU allegations the NLRB conditionally dismissed revolved around charges that KMHS delayed getting information to the union to use in negotiations, and that management tightened up on union representatives’ access to workers.

The SEIU had a different take on the NLRB decisions and sent the Kitsap Sun a statement from Bruce Jackson, a KMHS therapist and union member.

“We’re pleased the (NLRB) noted that many of our workplace complaints against (KMHS) were meritorious. The employer’s continued violations of worker rights are a problem and create concern within our community,” Jackson said.

KMHS Executive Director Joe Roszak sent out an e-mail to staffers Wednesday informing them of the NLRB decisions. He told the Kitsap Sun he was pleased.

“After a thorough investigation, the NLRB found that KMHS did not violate federal labor law in any way,” Roszak said.

David Secrest, a KMHS therapist, said, ”I think the ruling is accurate and it further solidifies what we already know, and that is that Kitsap Mental Health Services is an organization that is based on integrity.”




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