Caregivers, hospital to meet in court

NewsOctober 26, 2011

USC Daily Trojan:

By CORINNE GASTON · Daily Trojan

Posted October 23, 2011 (3 days ago) at 7:08 pm

A hearing concerning the conduct of the USC University Hospital in relation to its caregivers will take place today.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers filed labor charges of unfair conduct, which led the National Relations Labor Board — a branch of the federal government — to issue complaints against the hospital.

“The USC University Hospital has failed to negotiate in good faith,” said John Borsos, vice president of the NUHW. “One responsibility a union has is to file a complaint with the university when something like this happens.”

University Hospital administration is not commenting on the matter at this time, according to Health Sciences Director of Media Relations Leslie Ridgeway.

Borsos said there have been four or five allegations over the last two months. He said the hospital has made changes normally subject to negotiation, such as workers’ schedules, work assignments and repercussions for arriving late to work, and unlawfully suspended a relatively new employee for discussing a union.

NUHW is requesting the University Hospital revert these changes.

“Essentially, they will have to undo what they have done; if employees have been wronged, they must be made whole,” Borsos said. “They must let employees know that they had acted in bad faith and they will have to compensate people for anything they have lost.”

The court hearing will be a trial brought before an administrative law judge. There will be no jury. After the federal government, NUHW and USC University Hospital attorneys make their respective arguments, the administrative law judge will submit a written decision.

Despite the drawn-out process, Borsos said he expects the union to be successful in the trial.

“When the National Relations Labor Board issues a complaint and that complaint goes to hearing, the number of times the federal government wins is incredibly high,” Borsos said. “It would be quite unusual for us to not prevail.”

He said that the case has gone to trial is a favorable sign for the union because it often takes months of deliberation to decide a complaint requires a hearing. He said the university could have saved time and money by working out the issues with the union and the caregivers instead of going to court.

“One of the reasons the caregivers took the step to strike is because of the continued bad faith bargaining of the university,” Borsos said. “Even the federal government stepped in. We think it’s time for USC Hospital to stop wasting money and to allow their caregivers — the people patients depend on at the hospital — to have a more meaningful work relationship.”