A Human Resources E-Alert

On Thursday, January 27, 2011, nearly three years after the original representation elections were canceled due to claims by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC) that Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had entered into an illegal agreement that compromised employee rights, the employees in 38 of 43 professional and non-professional bargaining units spread among more than 12 hospitals and long-term care facilities in Ohio voted to reject SEIU representation. Only four bargaining units voted in favor of SEIU representation:

  • Springfield Medical Center: Non-professional unit of 509 employees.
  • Mercy Memorial Hospital Urbana: Non-professional unit of 25 employees.
  • Mercy Memorial Hospital Urbana: Technical unit of 28 employees.
  • Mercy McAuley Center (long-term care): Unit of 108 employees.

The voting in a 35 member RN unit at Mercy Memorial Hospital in Urbana was tied at 12 to 12, with one challenged ballot. A majority vote in favor of the union is required for union representation.

The National Labor Relations Board supervised the election process. The parties agreed to distribute jointly created materials about the election process and not to campaign against each other. The agreed upon elections followed many years of contentious activity between the SEIU and the hospital system, which had been a target of SEIU organizing for years.

Although the election results demonstrate strong support for CHP, the fact the elections were held demonstrates SEIU’s tenacity and will to focus on and engage in organizing activities against a target employer over a lengthy period of time. Now, the SEIU, although focused on achieving collective bargaining agreements for the certified bargaining units, can direct its organizing team at new facilities.

Health care facilities should remain ever vigilant in executing their union-free activities and promoting that philosophy. In addition to offering a competitive wage and benefit package, employers should be mindful of the drafting and implementation of key union avoidance policies, training supervisors to understand their role in the union-free process and to recognize and respond appropriately to employee concerns, and the need for even-handed enforcement of employer policies.