Federal judge orders Southern California hospital to recognize and bargain with nurses' union

March 31, 2011 - At the request of the National Labor Relations Board, a U.S. District Court Judge has ordered Avanti Health System, LLC, to recognize and bargain with the union that has long represented registered nurses at Community Hospital in Huntington Park.

The temporary injunction granted Wednesday, March 30, by Judge Otis D. Wright II in the Central District of California will remain in effect until the underlying case is fully resolved by the NLRB.

Community Hospital, which has changed hands twice in recent years, was purchased by Avanti in March 2010 following the bankruptcy of the previous owner. In assuming ownership, Avanti informed the California Nurses Association (CNA) that it had no obligation to bargain with or recognize the union. CNA disagreed and filed a charge alleging the company's refusal to bargain was an Unfair Labor Practice.

Under federal labor law, the new owner of a unionized company has a duty to bargain when there is a "substantial continuity of identity in the business enterprise."  This is generally true when the new employer conducts essentially the same business and the old employer's workforce comprises a majority of the new employer's workforce. Following an investigation, the Los Angeles Regional Office (21) found these conditions were satisfied and issued a complaint.

The court found that the Region's argument was likely to succeed, that irreparable harm would likely occur if the injunction was not granted, and that the balance of hardships and public interest weighed heavily in favor of granting the injunction. For those reasons, Avanti and its related corporate entities, CHHP Holdings II, LLC and CHHP Management LLC, were ordered to recognize the union as the collective-bargaining representative of unit employees and to bargain in good faith on wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.

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