Prime Healthcare will give workers back pay to settle unfair labor allegations

Ontario, Calif.-based Prime Healthcare has agreed to give workers back pay as part of a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board over allegations brought by Service Employees International Union Local 121RN.

The settlement resolves allegations that Prime violated the National Labor Relations Act when it laid off Encino (Calif.) Hospital Medical Center staff shortly before a union election in 2020 and then fired the remaining staff members that would have been part of SEIU 121RN. It includes an agreement for Prime to give back pay to the 22 affected workers, totaling $457,781 plus interest, according to the filing. Prime said it also agreed to bargain in good faith toward reaching a contract with the union for the current employees.   

In a statement shared with Becker's, Prime said it "denies any violation of the NLRA but will comply with the terms of the settlement. We appreciate our front-line healthcare workers and will continue to fully support them now as we face down this pandemic, and in the future."

The allegations surfaced after medical workers at Encino elected to unionize last summer. After the vote, the remaining case managers, social workers, pharmacists, clinical lab scientists and dietitians lost their jobs.

Prime said at the time that it "values the heroic work of all our staff across the nation in our 45 hospitals," and had retained more than 99 percent of its more than 35,000 employees during the COVID-19 pandemic without reductions or furloughs. 

The for-profit hospital operator also stated that "Encino is a small community hospital that Prime saved from closure," and the facility, like others in the U.S., had been experiencing lower volumes due to the pandemic. 

Therefore, it was necessary to consolidate certain areas with Encino's sister facility, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Hospital, affecting more than 20 positions, Prime said, adding that affected positions "were not part of front-line care." 

Encino, part of the Prime Healthcare Foundation, is a 150-bed hospital with 330 physicians and 520 professional support staff.


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