Houston, Texas (August 12, 2008) - Two registered nurses at Houston-based Tenet Healthcare medical centers have filed federal charges against the California Nurses Association (CNA) union and Tenet, after union officials and Tenet entered into agreements designed to force nurses into CNA union ranks.
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 unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 16 in Fort Worth, Texas with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
The charges focus on a so-called "Election Procedures Agreement" (EPA) between Tenet officials and CNA union bosses designed to assist the CNA in corralling nurses into the union. The agreement affects Tenet locations across Texas. So far CNA organizers have obtained union monopoly bargaining power at Cypress Fairbanks, and they have campaigns underway at other Houston-area hospitals, including Park Plaza.
The nurses' charges list multiple violations of employee rights, all designed to make it more difficult for nurses to resist unionization by the power hungry California union officials. The charges detail how the agreement signed by Tenet and CNA officials subverts the NLRB's role in supervising union certification elections and bypasses employee protections. While eliminating NLRB oversight of election conduct, the agreement calls for the NLRB to merely count ballots and "certify" the union.
The unfair labor practice charges also detail unlawful organizing assistance given by Tenet to CNA organizers in violation of federal statutes and a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Under the agreement, Tenet managers are gagged from responding to employee questions about unionization, and nurses who oppose the union have been forbidden from using any Tenet facilities to express their views. Yet pro-CNA nurses and non-employee union organizers are given broad access to Tenet facilities.
"California union militants, with the assistance of complicit Tenet officials, are attempting to sweep nurses across the state of Texas into union ranks, like it or not," said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "What isn't yet clear is exactly what Tenet received in exchange for helping union officials gain access to hundreds of thousands of dollars in union dues. If similar agreements elsewhere are any indication, CNA may have sold out the employees' interests to become Tenet's favored union."
The charges, which will now be investigated by NLRB officials, also state that the EPA scheme amounts to illegal pre-recognition bargaining, with union officials negotiating substantive terms of employment for nurses before they have the legal authority to represent a single employee.