St. Charles Health System is not surprised that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has filed unfair labor practice charges attempting to block the decertification election planned for March 21.
On Friday, the St. Charles Bargaining Team and SEIU filed Unfair Labor Practices against St Charles, contending that the hospital and its team of consultants had engaged in repeated illegal and coercive tactics with the intention to confuse and intimidate employees into voting to decertify the union.
A decertification election, initiated by minority of workers at the hospital was scheduled for March 21.
“We believe the majority of our caregivers do not support the union and we are disappointed that this blocking charge may delay our caregivers from a free election where they can voice their opinion,” said Jay Henry, CEO of St. Charles Bend.
St. Charles will defend itself against all charges the SEIU has filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
“We have demonstrated that there is a strong majority support for our union here at the hospital, over and over again. However, in the last few weeks it has become clear that there was no way to have a fair and democratic election in the environment management created,” said Joanne Kennedy, pharmacy, and bargaining team member.
“We have spent the past year bargaining in good faith with the SEIU and have done nothing but act in the best interest of our patients and our caregivers,” Henry said. “We find it unfortunate that the SEIU has chosen to not only take this action, but that they have made this private issue a community matter and have inconvenienced our patients as they seek treatment at our facility.
Henry added that, “St. Charles would like to reassure our patients that as always, providing the best possible health care to our community is our top priority.”
This is not the first instance in which St. Charles Bend has been charged with unfair labor practices. Earlier this year, SEIU filed other unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB has already issued a complaint for the charge stating that the employer unlawfully failed to bargain over healthcare changes and unilaterally increased costs for employees. A hearing is set for June.
“The actions taken by St. Charles are really disappointing; especially by an employer that is a community asset. I know caregivers at the hospital were ready to again demonstrate their majority support for SEIU, but we cannot stand by while St. Charles is clearly violating the law. We are requesting a federal investigation by the NLRB,” said Meg Niemi, president, SEIU Local 49.
The elected bargaining team at St. Charles Bend will continue negotiations and has set dates for April 3 and 4, 2012. Niemi added that, “they will move forward to settle a contract that improves patient care, creates good jobs, ensures job security and puts an end to contracting out jobs to the lowest bidder.”
Nurses who are represented by ONA at the hospital have a contract that expires at the end of June of this year.