Sunday, November 27, 2011

Unfair Labor Practice

Backus Nurses were in the paper again because we filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against Backus Management. 
It occurred to me, I know what that means, but do others?
The decision to file these charges are made by the Negotiations Committee on advice of our lawyers, field rep, and organizers.  Let me take a minute to explain labor law very briefly.  Remember, I am not an expert, but all of the committee is learning fast.
Labor laws in the United States protect workers rights and facilitate the relationship between organized labor and management.  The National Labor Relations Board oversees and administers these laws. If one side feels the other side has violated the law, they file an Unfair Labor Practice charge.  The NLRB then investigates and if they find merit in the case they prosecute. Often, the NLRB convinces one side to give in, but if not, a trial is held. Any settlement, whether by agreement or trial, seeks to "make whole" the situation. 
As an example, if a union member had been fired illegally, the person would be rehired with back pay. 
Since most charges are filed against management, and few against labor, most labor people would like to see stronger laws and penalties. 
This past summer I testified before the NLRB in Washington about the intimidation and stall tactics that Backus management took against us during our organizing campaign.  It was part of an effort to strengthen these laws.
The NLRB found sufficient evidence to prosecute and Backus management settled prior to trial.  They had to post on the hospital intranet that they would not violate the law. They had done the same after breaking the same law when guards organized a few months earlier.  Because both groups were successful in their organizing election, the situation was already "made whole".  Had either group been defeated, the NLRB would have ordered a new vote. 
Recently the hospital agreed to our use of conference room #1 for union negotiation update meetings.  They did so because we had filed charges against them due to union discrimination.  (the rooms are used by other groups, such as the Boy Scouts, yet the hospital refused to let us meet there)  When it became clear that the NLRB felt we had a strong case management gave in and we then withdrew our charge. We will start having meetings there soon.
We also filed a charge due to the hospital's refusal to provide insurance information as required by law.  This information is needed for us to develop proposals.  It appears that the hospital may now be ready to give us that information to avoid a trial and if they do we will withdraw the charge.
Last week we filed another charge against management over the shared rewards program and I blogged extensively about it in last Thursday's blog.
We will continue to monitor management's behavior.  Whenever they violate our rights we will file charges.

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