Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Charles Workers Allege Coercion on Eve of Union Vote

Tense labor negotiations at St.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 11:32 PM

Tense labor negotiations at St. Charles got a little more prickly on Friday when members of the employee bargaining team and the employee union asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to investigate allegations that the hospital administration has interfered with an upcoming unionization vote.

Workers who last year formed a union but have been unable to reach a contract with St. Charles accuse the hospital of “repeated illegal and coercive tactics” on the eve of a vote to potentially decertify the union. That vote, which was called for by a group of workers who opposed unionization was supposed to take place next Wednesday.

The union has asked that the vote be delayed while NLRB looks into the workers' accusations.

The hospital’s so-called service workers, including janitorial staff, certified nursing assistants, pharmacy and food service workers, number roughly 600 employees. They voted last year to form a union over concerns about staffing levels and outsourcing, among other issues. However, the failure to reach a contract with the hospital opened the door for a decertification vote, which hospital administrators have advocated. According to a press release from SEIU Local 49, which represents the employees in the negotiations, has filed six charges with NLRB, alleging the hospital illegally conducted surveillance on staff, coerced employees and terminated staff for union activity, among things.

St. Charles administrators denied the allegations and said they plan to defend the hospitals actions before the NLRB.

“We have spent the past year bargaining in good faith with the SEIU and have done nothing but act in the best interest of our patients and our caregivers,” said Jay Henry, St. Charles Bend's CEO. “We find it unfortunate that the SEIU has chosen to not only take this action, but that they have made this private issue a community matter and have inconvenienced our patients as they seek treatment at our facility.

Henry said, in a press release, that the hospital is opposed to delaying the decertification vote.


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