11/2/07

Nurse files ULP against SEIU

A nurse with Pomona Valley (CA) Hospital Medical Center has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union representing hospital nurses saying it threatened nurses who did not participate in two recent labor actions.

Carole Jean Badertscher of Covina filed the complaint to the National Labor Relations Board with the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an organization in Virginia that assists workers.

In the complaint, Badertscher said last month the union put out information threatening nurses who cross picked lines. The charge follows months of tense relations between the Service Employees International Union Local 121RN, which represents 1,000 nurses at the hospital, and PVHMC. The two have been in negotiations since April.

Nurses carried out two labor actions, a 24-hour strike Sept. 6 and a five-day strike that began Sept. 26. Badertscher's complaint says union leaders allegedly gave out information that threatened nurses with fines and jail time if they crossed picket lines. They also circulated a flier saying the union could seek dues not paid during the period nurses have no contract with the hospital, the complaint said.

Badertscher said she wasn't the only nurse that was surprised by the information about fines and jail time.

In speaking with various nurses "every nurse asked me, 'Can they do this?'" she said.

Seeking to clear up the question, Badertscher said she sought the assistance of the right-to-work foundation and was told that couldn't be done.

Sue Weinstein, executive director of the Service Employees International Union, Local 121RN said there is no basis for the complaint by Badertscher.

"The charge is outrageous," Weinstein said.

The information regarding the fines was directed at the hospital administrators and was posted on the union's Web page after the end of the five-day strike.

The information indicates that state law makes it "illegal to hire replacement professional strike breakers," Weinstein said.

As for the dues, Weinstein said the local has a policy not to collect dues retroactively.

"They filed the charge, and we will defend the charge," she said.

The charge is coming from a nurse who is opposed to the union and who is on the side of hospital management which would like to see the union eliminated, Weinstein said. "We believe it's another attack on the union."

Hospital spokeswoman Kathy Roche said this is not the case.

"The hospital is not involved in any effort to eliminate the union," she said.

The hospital recently filed a similar complaint with the National Labor Relations Board but "they're two completely separate complaints though both are governed by the NLRB."

Badertscher said she is a member of the nurses' collective bargaining unit and added that although she is not a member of the union she pays service fees to union.

James Small, regional director of the NLRB, Region 21 in Los Angeles, said Thursday his office received Badertscher's paperwork this week.

The charge "seems to be a repeat" of a charge the hospital filed and will be investigated, he said.

Representatives for the nurses union and the hospital are expected to return to the bargaining table Nov. 13, Weinstein said.

(sgvtribune.com)

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