Complaint spurs second union election at Danbury, New Milford hospitals

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Danbury (Conn.) Hospital and New Milford (Conn.) Hospital interfered with a union election in June, and ordered a second election, according to the Hartford Courant.

Hearing Officer Jo Anne Howlett  in her report recommended that the union's objection's be sustained in part and overruled in part. She said credited evidence supports a conclusion that hospital management had in its possession personal email and telephone information that it failed to include and provide to the union in the voting list; and that management, by its conduct of altering the job duties of Stan Wilk, an outspoken supporter of the effort to unionize, "created the impression that his union activities were under surveillance, or engaged in the related objectionable conduct of causing his isolation from other employees so as to limit his union or protected concerted activities."

As for allegations that hospital management interfered with the election by soliciting grievances and impliedly promising to remedy them and created the impression of surveillance of the activities of activist Jessica Ellul, Ms. Howlett recommend that these objections be overruled, citing insufficient evidence.

The officer's report is based on testimony provided in July by workers who recounted the managers' conduct and outside consultants retained by the hospitals' operator, Western Connecticut Health Network, according to a news release.

The report comes after the AFT filed a complaint with the NLRB following the June election. The union claimed hospital management intimidated workers into rejecting the union, according to the Hartford Courant.

The AFT represents about 1,000 nurses, licensed practical nurses and other medical professionals at Danbury and New Milford. The union was seeking to add about 800 housekeeping, maintenance and certified nursing assistants.

Andrea Rynn, a spokeswoman for the hospitals, said the hospitals will appeal the federal agency's order to schedule a second election, according to the Hartford Courant.

"While the hearing officer rejected several allegations raised by the union concerning improper conduct by the hospital, she recommended a new election based on a technicality: the alleged failure of the hospital to provide sufficient personal employee contact information to the union," Ms. Rynn told the publication.

However, she contends in the Hartford Courant report that the hospitals did not pass along phone numbers for 6 percent of the workers who were eligible to vote, but gave addresses for all the workers. "We strongly disagree that this level of contact information interfered with the outcome of the election," she added.

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