A May 5, 2010 vote by registered nurses to join SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania in an NLRB-supervised election at an acute care hospital in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania highlights the rising exposures many hospital and other health industry employers face to union organizing and other activities. The May 5 a ballot count at Alle-Kiski Medical Center found 213 nurses in favor of the union, with 61 opposed and two challenged ballots. Management at the hospital now will be required to bargain with the union on terms and conditions of employment for nurses in the bargaining union and follow other NLRB procedures for dealing with employees represented by unions.
The union certification by the Alle-Kiski Medical Center nurses is one of a growing series of unionization campaigns targeting health industry employers around the nation this year. In March, for example, NLRB Regional Director Alan B. Reichard ordered elections at 31 California hospitals to decide which of two rival unions would represent employees. The Monday, March 2, 2010 order by Regional Director Reichard set the stage for elections between the Service Employees International /United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU-UHW) and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which are competing to represent thousands of health care workers throughout California. Under the order, some elections may be preceded by hearings to clarify the voting group; others will proceed by agreement of the parties regarding such issues as voting dates and times and voter eligibility.
Health industry workers increasingly are viewed as attractive targets for union organization around the country. Many of these organizing efforts are helped by a series of NLRB decisions that ease the way for union organization of certain physician and other health care provider groups.
Many health care organizations and other employers are concerned about the potential financial and operational costs that organization of their workforce might produce. Whether concerned about the potential for future organization activities, confronting a union certification election or dealing with union representation in their workplace, health industry and other employers concerned about union organizing or representational activities must act carefully.
Federal labor law requires that employers tread carefully when dealing with union or other organizational activity. Existing federal law limits the actions that employers can take to deter or influence worker choices about whether to support or oppose a union certification campaign, to influence the certification of one union representative over another.
Legislation supported by the Obama Administration and the Democratic Leadership in Congress such as the Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 (H.R.1409 /S 560) would further expand these protections. If adopted as proposed, this legislation would further facilitate union organizing efforts and give union representatives new tools to pressure employers for contractual concessions to union negotiations.
Health industry and other employers concerned with these issues generally should carefully monitor and respond to proposed legislation and consult with qualified labor and employment counsel before discussing or taking other action in response to these activities to minimize risks of unintentionally running afoul of these requirements and to position their efforts for maximum effectiveness.
For Assistance With Compliance Or Other Concerns
If your organization needs advice or assistance in responding to labor and employment issues in your health care organization or other health care matters, consider contacting the author of this article, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here.
Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Ms. Stamer is nationally known for her more work, training and presentations, and publications on health and managed care staffing and employment, compensation, regulatory, and other operations, risk management and compliance matters.
Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 22 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry and human resources matters, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about these and other related concerns. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, and other operations and risk management concerns. Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, see here.
Other Recent Developments
If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in information about upcoming programs to be presented by Ms. Stamer, acquiring a copy of a recording or materials from previous programs she has presented, or arranging training for your organization. For more information about these opportunities, contact Ms. Stamer directly.
If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the following recent Updates available online by clicking on the article title:
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For More Information
We hope that this information is useful to you. If you need assistance with auditing or defending these or other health care compliance, risk management, transaction or operation concerns, please contact the author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, at (469) 767-8872, cstamer@Solutionslawyer.net. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising health industry clients on labor and employment, medical staff and other compliance and operations issues. She writes and speaks extensively on these and other health industry and other internal controls and risk management matters.
You can review other recent health care and internal controls resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.
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