HCA hospital violated labor law in pulling union recognition, judge says

Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., part of Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare, violated federal labor law by withdrawing recognition from a Service Employees International Union affiliate on about Aug. 15, 2021, prior to the official certification of the election results, a National Labor Relations Board judge ruled.

NLRB Judge Christine Dibble said in her 36-page decision May 16 that Research Medical Center illegally withdrew recognition from the SEIU as the collective bargaining representative of the unit and failed to fully provide relevant information requested by the SEIU. 

Research Medical Center "withdrew recognition of the union on about Aug. 15, more than two years before expiration of the agreement which ran from April 6, 2021 through May 31, 2023," the judge wrote.

Moreover, the hospital "refused to honor any of the terms of the contract before it had expired. Therefore, the respondent effectuated an actual withdrawal of union recognition before the expiration of the current agreement in violation of" labor law, Ms. Dibble said.

The judge also said the hospital failed to meet and confer with the SEIU over "as needed staffing" pay as required by the collective bargaining agreement; refused to meet with the National Nurses Organizing Committee's designated representative; and stopped the deduction and remittance of union dues to the SEIU as required by the agreement. NNOC is an affiliate of National Nurses United. 

Employees at Research Medical Center voted to remove the SEIU as their exclusive representative in June 2021.

The vote was the result of a union decertification process conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, which allows hospital workers to decide whether to keep third-party union representation. Employees including patient care technicians, certified nursing assistants, food and nutrition services, environmental services, imaging technologists and respiratory therapists had the opportunity to vote by mail between May 17 and June 14, 2021. Results of the decertification election were finalized on Feb. 8, 2022, according to NLRB documents. 

Ms. Dibble dismissed some allegations, including board attorneys' claims that a worker was illegally told to remove a union button and that a consultant made an unlawful statement when meeting with workers about the voting process, according to Law360 .

Becker's reached out to HCA and will update this story if a comment is received.

Representatives of the unions did not immediately respond to requests from Law360 for comment.

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