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CNA/NNOC Wins Key Legal Decision Protecting Right of Public Employees to Strike
Date:4/22/2008

Ruling Also Upholds Rights of 10,000 University of California RNs to

Bargain Over Improved Patient Safety

OAKLAND, Calif., April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- In a huge victory for public employees, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today won a major legal decision on behalf of the 10,000 University of California registered nurses it represents to strike, and to bargain over improved staffing and other patient care issues.

In a decision released today by the state Public Employee Relations Board, the University also lost an effort to collect $9 million from CNA/NNOC for its claimed costs for a scheduled July 2005 strike, enjoined by a state court, that had been called by the RNs over the University's refusal to bargain on key patient care issues.

"This is a refreshing acknowledgement of the fundamental, democratic right of California public employees to strike -- and a stunning rebuke for the University's attempts to silence the collective voice of UC nurses in our ongoing efforts to assure the highest standards of quality patient care for UC patients," said Geri Jenkins, RN, a member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents and a UC San Diego RN.

Upholding the rights of all public employees

CNA/NNOC represents 10,000 UC registered nurses in five major medical centers as well as student health facilities across California.

But the ramifications of the decision affect all public employees in California, said CNA/NNOC.

"This is a critical affirmation of the right of public employees to strike if needed to defend their members and the public interest at a time when the University on behalf of other employers hoped to bar public workers from their constitutional right of free speech and assembly," Jenkins said. Notably, the University was represented in the case by one of the nation's most notorious anti-union law firms, Littler Mendelson.

The case dates back to a one-day strike called by UC RNs in July 2005 over the University's failure to bargain in good faith over RN ratios and other staffing practices in the UC facilities. Just hours before the strike was to begin, UC obtained an injunction to block the walkout.

Though those negotiations were subsequently settled, the University went back to PERB in an effort to retaliate against the RNs and CNA/NNOC, and to collect $9 million in what the University said were its costs preparing for the strike that never occurred.

With today's ruling, PERB Administrative Law Judge Donn Ginoza, however, threw out the cash claims, further ruling that:

-- Unfair labor practice strikes by public employees are permitted under

state law (the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, or

HEERA), and

-- The University violated state law by refusing to bargain over

CNA/NNOC's proposal for staffing, and by refusing to provide critical

information to the RNs about the University's patient classification

systems, which are used in determining staffing.

Under the judge's decision, the University is ordered to negotiate over the patient care issues raised by the RNs and CNA/NNOC in future negotiations, and to post the decision in all of its medical facilities.

CNA/NNOC and UC have since reached agreement on another multi-year contract ratified by the RNs in March. Re-opener negotiations are scheduled on staffing, salary and benefit issues starting August 1.


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SOURCE California Nurses Association/National Nurses OrganizingCommittee
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