Sherwood Cox, a critical-care nurse and a trauma clinician, has worked in the healthcare industry almost his entire life. Throughout his career, his admiration for the special relationship nurses develop with their patients motivated him to help those in need and become the best nurse possible.

But in 2003, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) launched a campaign to impose unionization on employees at the Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, California, where he works. Sherwood found himself fighting not only for the patients he cared for, but for the other nurses he worked alongside.

Although the SEIU union’s organizing efforts failed, soon afterwards Sherwood and other nurses found themselves targets of a coercive California Nurses Association (CNA) union organizing scheme. Without warning, the CNA union and Sherwood’s employer (Tenet Heath Care) entered into a so-called “neutrality agreement,” which granted union officials extraordinary access to employees, including access to hundreds of nurses’ personal information.

Outraged and armed with information about the negative effects of compulsory unionism and so-called “neutrality agreements,” Sherwood distributed informative flyers to his coworkers. However, CNA union operatives quickly tried to intimidate Sherwood by sending a flyer to the homes of hundreds of his fellow nurses. The flyer thuggishly depicted him as being a “puppet of management” and portrayed a squashed nurse dripping from his shoe.

Many nurses were outraged with the CNA union’s tactics, and Sherwood was heartened to learn that his coworkers formally rejected the “representation” of CNA union officials.

However, fearing for his safety, Sherwood turned to the National Right to Work Foundation for help. Since 2004, Foundation attorneys have helped Sherwood file numerous unfair labor practice charges against his employer and the CNA union.

During the CNA union’s final election drive, Sherwood – along with two National Labor Relations Board representatives, three union organizers, and hospital management – witnessed the counting of votes. In the end, a majority of nurses again voted against forced unionization of the hospital.

By maintaining a website ( Sherwood continues to protect his and all other employees’ right to choose or reject unionization. Additionally, National Right to Work Foundation attorneys have filed a “Friend of the Court” brief in the pending United States Supreme Court case, Chamber of Commerce v. Brown, referencing Sherwood’s harrowing experience.

Sherwood In His Own Words…

“By the end of the day, I received several more calls – some by nurses actually crying and fearing for my safety. Many [nurses] were also frightened and outraged that the union had used information obtained from the neutrality agreement for such an underhanded attack.” –Sherwood describing how many nurses felt deceived after union officials distributed a misleading flyer about him

CNA organizers confronted me that morning, taking my photograph and calling me names.” – Sherwood discussing CNA union operatives’ intimidation tactics

“The final tally was 170 to 149 against unionizing! We had beaten the CNA union a second time on their terms.” –Sherwood expressing the relief he felt after beating back two CNA union organizing drives

“Without the help and expertise of the National Right to Work Foundation and my attorney Glenn Taubman, I would have been at a loss so many times in my efforts to educate myself and my coworkers.” – Sherwood speaking about the free legal aid he received from the National Right to Work Foundation

“The union has millions of dollars at their disposal to conduct a unionizing campaign. With the neutrality agreement in place, all I had was my determination, the support of my family and friends, and the backing of the National Right to Work Foundation, who kept my informed of my legal rights and defended me when those rights were violated.” ­­–Sherwood explaining how the Foundation’s expert legal staff helped to expose the hypocrisy of neutrality agreements

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