Union organizers’ intimidation sways outcome of unionization election
Massillon, OH (May 14, 2013) – Four local nurses have filed a federal lawsuit against the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) union for violating its duty of fair representation by striking a backroom deal with company management in exchange for its assistance with unionizing its nurses.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Affinity Medical Center nurses Cinda Keener, Susan Kelley, Ryan Chizmadia, and Katherine Manfull filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division in Akron.
NNOC union organizers and Community Health Systems (CHS) management entered into a "neutrality agreement" designed to help the union organizers impose monopoly bargaining on all the nurses at Affinity and at least two other CHS hospitals. In the agreement, union organizers were given preferential access to the facility and conducted a "quicksnap" unionization election.
At Affinity, non-employee union organizers stalked, reported on, and attempted to get company management to retaliate against nurses who exercised their rights to oppose the unionization of their workplace. Company officials, at the behest of NNOC union bosses, even made one of the nurses who opposed unionization document the activities of fellow nurses who campaigned against unionization. The unionization election was "officially" decided by 4 votes with an additional 7 votes contested.
Two of the Affinity nurses are contesting the results of the election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), pointing out that the secret deal between Affinity and NNOC union officials, combined with the intimidation of nurses who spoke out against unionization, likely affected the outcome of the union vote. However, the nurses have been repeatedly denied a chance to challenge the forced unionization of their hospitals by NLRB Regional Director Frederick Calatrello.
In their lawsuit, the four Affinity nurses allege that the NNOC union hierarchy acted in bad faith and violated its duty of fair representation by illegally pre-negotiating nurses' benefits and working conditions in exchange for company assistance, keeping the terms of the agreement and other negotiations concealed from the nurses in the lead up to the election, and accepting illegal assistance from the company to unionize the nurses.
"Nurses at three separate hospitals have been stripped of their rights to oppose forced unionism in their workplace," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Medical professionals shouldn't be subjected to backroom deals that give union operatives preferential treatment at the expense of employees' workplace rights."
"Because Ohio does not have a Right to Work law, Affinity's nurses may now be compelled to pay union dues and fees to a union hierarchy that clearly does not have their best interests at heart," added Mix. "That is why Ohio should pass Right to Work protections for its workers."