SEIU anti-decert bribery smacked down by NLRB

Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP (JMBM), one of California’s foremost full-service law firms, today announced that a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Administrative Law Judge ruled that Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers West - Local 399 (SEIU-UHW) engaged in objectionable conduct during the course of a decertification election.

The Firm's client, Good Samaritan Hospital of Los Angeles, had previously lost to the Union by a narrow margin, but now the Judge's ruling calls for a new election to take place.

"It is always gratifying to have clients who are willing to fight for what is right," said JMBM Partner Marta M. Fernandez, who was lead counsel on behalf of Good Samaritan Hospital. "In this case, we pursued a legal challenge to the union's conduct because our client, the Hospital, truly felt that its employees had the right to make a choice in a coercion-free environment."

SEIU-UHW has represented approximately 458 healthcare workers at Good Samaritan Hospital of Los Angeles for the last decade. In August of 2006, as the most recent collective bargaining agreement between the Hospital and the Union came up for renewal, a group of hospital employees petitioned the NLRB for an election to decertify SEIU-UHW as their representative.

Subsequently, a secret ballot election was held to determine if the represented employees wished to continue to be represented by the Union. At the election's conclusion, the tally of ballots showed 200 ballots cast in favor of the Union, 198 cast against it. Accordingly, the Union held on to its representation by only 2 votes.

Fernandez, who has over 20 years of experience in the representation of clients in union related matters, including collective bargaining, union prevention, neutrality agreements, union representation, decertification elections and NLRB trials, filed objections to the election on behalf of Good Samaritan. After a lengthy trial, on November 30, 2007, the NLRB Judge ruled that the Union engaged in physical and verbally threatening conduct against pro-Hospital employees. The Judge also found that a Union representative had improperly offered a bribe to the leader of the decertification effort in exchange for his abandoning that effort. The Judge concluded that such incident "coerced the exercise of freedom of choice in the election" and overturned the Union's former narrow victory.

"It is highly unusual and very difficult to have an election of this nature overturned by the NLRB because the employer's burden is so high," said JMBM's Managing Partner Bruce P. Jeffer. "This was an important victory for both the Hospital and the Firm's Labor Lawyers."


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