Victory continues string of successful union decertification attempts by healthcare workers across the country

Palo Alto, CA (March 13, 2024) – Nurses from Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s locations in Sunnyvale and Mountain View, CA, have exercised their right to remove unwanted International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) union officials from power at their workplaces. The ouster is the result of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) March 8 certification of an election in which nearly 60% of participating nurses from Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s infusion facilities voted to end the union’s presence in the workplace.

Nurse Malgorzata Nepali spearheaded the effort to remove the union by submitting union decertification petitions to the NLRB in December 2023 and February 2024 with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Her petitions contained sufficient signatures from her fellow nurses to trigger a union decertification vote under NLRB rules. The NLRB held the election in person over February 28 and 29.

Because California lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, union officials can impose contracts that force workers to pay union dues or fees just to get or keep a job. Union officials also enjoy monopoly bargaining power that permits them to impose a union contract on all employees in a work unit, including those who oppose the union. A successful decertification vote strips union officials of both forced-dues power and monopoly bargaining privileges.

IFPTE Union Officials Tried to Trap Nurses in Union, But Ultimately Failed

Nepali and her coworkers’ effort to oust the union hit a snag when IFPTE bosses argued that her December 2023 petition should be tossed out pursuant to a so-called “contract bar.” The contract bar is a non-statutory NLRB policy that blocks employees from exercising their right to vote out unwanted union officials for up to three years after union officials and management finalize a contract.

Nepali’s Foundation-provided attorneys argued in a brief that the contracts offered by the union as evidence the contract bar should apply lacked fundamental elements. Additionally, Nepali submitted a new petition in February 2024 outside the time window of the union’s claimed contract bar. NLRB Region 32 eventually ordered that the election should proceed on the basis of Nepali’s second petition.

Healthcare Employees Across U.S. Seeking Freedom from Union Control

Across the country, workers are increasingly attempting to exercise their right to vote out union officials they disapprove of. According to NLRB data, since 2020 decertification petition filings have gone up by over 40%. To resist this trend, the Biden NLRB is attempting to make it substantially more difficult for workers to decertify unions, and could soon issue a final rule invalidating the Election Protection Rule. The Election Protection Rule is a policy which contains multiple important safeguards regarding employees’ right to decertify unions they oppose.

Healthcare employees across America have led a string of recent successful union decertification efforts with Foundation legal aid. In December 2023, support staff from St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children voted American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union officials out of a work unit comprising 270+ employees. Also in December, support staff at Mayo Clinic’s location in Austin, MN, forced Steelworkers union officials out of their facility, which followed other Foundation-backed union ousters in Mankato, MN, and St. James, MN.

“We at the Foundation are proud to help Ms. Nepali and healthcare workers all across the country exercise their right to vote out union officials that don’t represent their interests,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While this victory is encouraging, IFPTE union officials tried to manipulate the ‘contract bar’ to foist their control on the nurses despite their clear intentions to oust the union. This shows that there are anti-worker restrictions heavily ingrained in NLRB case law that should be nixed.

“That situation isn’t helped by the fact that the Biden NLRB is seeking to place even greater restrictions on workers’ right to decertify unions, but Foundation attorneys will keep fighting at the NLRB for workers’ free choice,” Mix added.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in about 200 cases nationwide per year.

Posted on Mar 13, 2024 in News Releases