Press Democrat: Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital challenges union election

NewsDecember 30, 2009


Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital has asked the National Labor Relations Board to nullify the union election held at the hospital two weeks ago.

In a formal objection, the hospital claims the National Union of Healthcare Workers engaged in coercion and intimidation that prevented “the free expression of the employees choice.”

The NUHW dismissed the move, calling it an effort to discredit an election the hospital knows it lost.

The vote, which affected almost 700 employees at Memorial Hospital, including radiology and respiratory technicians, nurse’s aides, housekeepers and dietary workers, was held Dec. 17 and 18.

The NUHW received 283 votes, while the rival Service Employees International Union had 13. The choice of opting for neither union — supported by the hospital administration — won 263 votes.

The labor board was set to begin reviewing 17 disputed ballots when Memorial Hospital filed its objection on Monday.

“This muddies the water,” said Tim Peck, the board’s assistant regional director in San Francisco.

Memorial outlined 10 objections in its two-page document, claiming the healthcare workers union, its agents and/or third parties engaged in:

Electioneering at or near the polling place on election days and during periods when the polls were open.

Campaign speeches within 24 hours before the opening of the polls.

Surveillance and interrogation of employees, including videotaping employees who tried to attend employer-sponsored meetings about the election.

The hospital also said the NLRB failed to monitor and prevent improper conduct by the union.

And it said the ballot displayed the three choices in different fonts, “creating the impression that the NLRB disfavored the employer” and that a vote for “neither”was “of lesser significance to a vote for either union.”

Debra Miller, the hospital’s vice president of human resources, said Memorial decided to file objections based on numerous accounts of instances that “did not allow our employees to have the opportunity for an honest and fair election, to have a free expression of their choice.”

Buddy Bosanco, a telemetry technician at Memorial who has been part of the union organizing effort since it started six years ago, said Memorial was attempting to scuttle the vote.

“It’s just another anti-union campaign,” Bosanco said. “It’s just a way of trying to stall the inevitable. We won this fair and square.”

Tim Peck of the NLRB said it was unclear how long it will take to resolve the election.

Source: Santa Rosa Press Democrat