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Fed Board to Ask Court for Rare Order on Fremont-Rideout to Seek Fair Pact With RNs

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Federal officials are going to court to force Fremont-Rideout Health Group (FRHG) to end its war against Fremont-Rideout RNs, recognize the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee as the representative of the RNs, and return to the bargaining table to negotiate in good faith. Fremont-Rideout operates two hospitals and clinics in Yuba City and Marysville Calif. north of Sacramento.

National Labor Relations Board officials late Friday confirmed that the NLRB's general counsel in Washington directed the government's attorneys to petition a federal court seeking a rare bargaining order compelling the recalcitrant, privately owned hospital to get back to the table and end the dispute.

Called a "10(j) petition" after the section of the National Labor Relations Act authorizing this form of relief, this filing is the heaviest weapon in the arsenal of the NLRB - and seldom used, except in cases the board considers to be the most egregious violations of federal labor law.

"The government could not send a stronger message of condemnation of the hospital's misconduct," said CNA/NNOC Co-president Deborah Burger. "It's time for hospital officials to stop trampling on the rights of their dedicated registered nurses, and move towards a fair agreement that will benefit the patients, the nurses, the community, and the hospital."

A case study on the need for the Employee Free Choice Act

Noting nearly three years have passed since the Fremont-Rideout RNs chose to join CNA, Burger said the hospital's "deplorable campaign against the RNs present a clear case study in why the Employee Free Choice Act should be enacted.

Even though the RNs voted for CNA/NNOC, Fremont-Rideout maneuvered to overturn the results through legal machinations, delays, and a refusal to engage in good faith bargaining, all intended to prevent the negotiation of a fair first collective bargaining contract. EFCA would provide for a mediation and binding arbitration to assure a first contract is achieved.

"Fremont-Rideout has flagrantly worked to undermine, with multiple legal delays, the democratic aspirations of the nurses for collective representation to better advocate for their patients and their colleagues. The hospital has implemented a disgraceful campaign of pressure and harassment of CNA/NNOC supporters," said Burger.

Issuance of the order is the latest step in a series of sanctions against the hospital, and follows a decision in late January by an administrative law judge who found FRGH guilty of numerous violations of federal labor law abridging the rights of RNs and a failure to negotiate in good faith.

Among other things, the administrative law judge ruled that FRHG conducted illegal interrogation and surveillance of the nurses, failed and refused to provide information and bargain with the union and retaliated against nurses who support the union.

The decision to petition the United States District Court for injunctive relief came shortly after a second hearing before an administrative law judge held in Marysville last week in which numerous nurses testified before a capacity crowd about the employer's ongoing campaign to undermine the continuing need for CNA/NNOC representation at Fremont-Rideout.

The nurses voted overwhelmingly for representation by the California Nurses Association in 2006 and Fremont-Rideout promptly launched a campaign to systematically and relentlessly interfere with the nurses' efforts to communicate with one another and establish a fair contract to be more effective patient advocates.

In following this program, designed by their legal counsel, FRHG has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars, ignoring the will of its RNs, driving dozens of RNs (over 15 percent of the hospitals' RNs) to leave their employment at FRHG and seek work in neighboring CNA-represented hospitals, while incurring multiple citations and investigations by the California State Department of Public Health.

CNA/NNOC is the largest and fastest-growing organization of RNs in the U.S. with 85,000 members in all 50 states.

SOURCE California Nurses Association
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