12/15/07

SEIU organizers rejected by 3 of 4 bargaining units

One bargaining unit of non-supervisory staff at Community Regional Medical Center in Lorain (OH) voted Thursday to join the Service Employees International Union, while three other units did not. The results of the fifth unit's balloting are being challenged by the National Labor Relations Board, which supervised the voting.

Representatives of the hospital and the SEIU both said they were satisfied with the outcome of Thursday's vote, with ballots cast by about 527 of the 868 eligible workers.

The three bargaining units that decided against union representation are the professional, technical and business clerical units, according to Jennifer Kennedy, hospital spokeswoman. Only the skilled maintenance workers opted for SEIU membership, she said. The skilled maintenance unit includes 16 workers, such as plumbers and electricians, according to Kennedy.

The National Labor Relations Board raised challenges to the eligibility of some ballots cast by the non-professional bargaining unit, which has about 400 members, Kennedy said. A spokesman for the NLRB could not be reached yesterday.

Eligibility could be affected by date of hire, a clerical error possibly omitting someone from the voting list, or a supervisor voting, Kennedy said. She did not know the specific circumstances of the NLRB's challenges, or how long they would take to resolve.

Joyce Moscato, a spokeswoman for the SEIU, said the voting, with a significant majority of eligible workers taking part, worked out well.

"The important thing is that employees in the hospital were able to decide for themselves, without pressure from either side," Moscato said. "We wanted it to happen in a neutral environment, so workers could have a positive experience."

SEIU representatives would start working with skilled maintenance workers in January to begin bargaining for a contract with Community Health Partners, Moscato said. She said she hoped the voting process, without tension or conflict, could become a model for other large employers.

"It's the right thing to do," she said.

Kennedy agreed that the voting produced a positive outcome.

"We're really happy with the process," she said. "Our employees had the opportunity to be in an NLRB-supervised election, and the quality of our care wasn't affected."

(morningjournal.com)

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