California hospital, union settle coercion allegation filed after strike

St. Joseph Health Humboldt County and the National Union of Healthcare Workers have settled a coercion allegation against the hospital chain, according to the Times-Standard.

The allegation was filed after a Nov. 20 strike that involved workers at Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna, Calif., and St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, Calif. The National Union of Healthcare Workers represents an estimated 500 workers at the hospitals, which are part of St. Joseph Health Humboldt County.

After the walkout, the union alleged to the National Labor Relations Board that the hospital chain used coercive tactics against union members including a threat to "lockout" strike participants, according to the Times-Standard. The hospital said at the time of the strike that those who participated in the strike could return to work Nov. 25, five days after the strike began, per a contract agreement with temporary workers hired to replace the striking ones.

Charges alleging an unlawful "lockout" after the strike were dropped, according to hospital chain spokesperson Christian Hill. However, the remaining coercion allegation unrelated to the bargaining process was settled.

"Through the joint investigation … it was uncovered that there was this threat, this extreme threat made by a supervisor to employees that participated in the strike," Latika Malkani, the attorney for the NUHW, told the Times-Standard.

Under the payment-free settlement, St. Joseph Health Humboldt County has agreed to post a notice for 60 days that notifies workers of their rights and that the hospital "will not interfere with, restrain, or coerce you in the exercise of (those) rights," according to the report.

St. Joseph Health Humboldt County does not admit violation of the National Labor Relations Act in the settlement.

"St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County was pleased to learn that the National Union of Healthcare Workers has dropped three unfair labor practice charges alleging an unlawful 'lockout' after the union's November 2019 strike," Mr. Hill said in a statement provided to Becker's Hospital Review. "NUHW's attorneys dropped the charges shortly before the NLRB was due to rule on their merits. A remaining charge unrelated to the bargaining process was settled without any monetary payment."


More articles on human resources:
Vermont psychiatric hospital workers allege dangerous staff shortages
Hospitals and unions: 7 recent conflicts, agreements
Michigan Medicine accused of exploiting 1,300 resident physicians in labor dispute

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