Hospitals obstruct unionization efforts, draw ire of National Labor Relations Board

St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, Mont., and its sister hospital, St. John's, in Santa Monica, Calif., have captured the attention of the National Labor Relations Board -- and not in a good way.

Complaints against both facilities involve obstruction of employee efforts to unionize. At St. Vincent, the Montana Nurses Association accused a manager of not only attempting to coerce staff against unionizing, but of threatening termination and trying to prevent a former employee from communicating with eligible voters. The NLRB investigation produced enough evidence for the board to issue a complaint and take over the case, which will reach a hearing before an administrative law judge on April 20 if a prior settlement is not reached.

In California, the NLRB issued two similar complaints against St. John's and began presenting its case to an administrative law judge on Monday.

The National Labor Relations Act prohibits employers from threatening to discipline or terminate workers who support union activity. If a hospital admits to or is found to have violated the National Labor Relations Act, it must distribute a letter to all employees explaining their rights under the law.

"The remedy is really wimpy,"Amy Hauschild, an MNA labor relations specialist, told the Billings Gazette.

To learn more:
- read the full Billings Gazette article