National legal aid foundation puts brakes on collusive arrangement that would force nurses into union ranks
Houston, Texas (November 11, 2008) – Federal labor prosecutors have blocked a so-called “consent election” sought by the Tenet Healthcare Corporation and the California Nurses Association (CNA) while the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) conducts an inquiry into the legality of a secret backroom deal entered into by Tenet and CNA officials.
The National Labor Relations Board’s Regional Director heeded the wishes of Houston-area nurses who filed unfair labor practice charges against Tenet and the CNA with assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation. The scheduled “consent election” would have determined whether the CNA became the monopoly bargaining agent of nurses at the Houston Northwest Medical Center.
Esther Marissa Cuellar, a nurse at Tenet’s Cypress Fairbanks location, and Linda D. Bertrand, a nurse at Tenet’s Park Plaza Medical Center, filed the charges on August 12 with the National Labor Relations Board in Fort Worth. The charges allege that an “Election Procedures Arrangement” Tenet and the CNA secretly agreed to violates employees’ rights.
The nurses’ charges detail how the agreement, signed by Tenet and CNA officials, subverts the NLRB’s role in supervising union certification elections and bypasses critical employee protections. The agreement calls for the NLRB merely to count ballots and “certify” the union without providing oversight for the actual process.
Tenet is also charged with providing unlawful assistance to CNA union organizers and discriminating against nurses opposed to unionization. Tenet managers were forbidden from answering workers’ questions about unionization, and employees who opposed a union presence in the workplace were prevented from using company facilities to express their views. CNA organizers, on the other hand, were given wide-ranging access to company grounds to facilitate unionization.
“California union militants, with the assistance of complicit Tenet officials, are attempting to corral unwilling nurses across the state of Texas into union ranks.” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “If similar agreements elsewhere are any indication, CNA may have sold out employees’ interests to become Tenet’s favored union. We’re pleased that the NLRB stepped up to investigate the matter before proceeding with more of these sham consent elections.”
The NLRB’s decision places the “consent election” on indefinite hold pending the outcome of the unfair labor practice charges.