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Editorial: Union will win in end

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By The Staff

Alta Vista Regional Hospital, which has an eight-member advisory board of area residents, won’t allow the San Miguel County Commission to have a seat at the table.

Recently, the county requested to have a representative on the board. But hospital CEO Richard Grogan wrote back that the board considered the request and decided against it.

We don’t know who is on the board, and Alta Vista is not eager to tell us. Its spokesman didn’t reply to a request for that information last week.

We’re not surprised that the hospital denied the county’s request. Alta Vista, owned by hospital giant Community Health Systems Corp., is a private company and as such, doesn’t want to release its proprietary information to the public. And if an elected county commissioner joined the board, he or she would be duty-bound to report to residents what’s going on at the hospital.

The advisory board, of course, has no real authority. Full administrative power at the hospital doesn’t even rest with Grogan himself, but rather with the corporate honchos in Tennessee. How else can you explain the hospital’s stubborn resistance to the union that workers overwhelmingly voted in nearly three years ago? No matter who is in charge locally, the hospital sticks with the same policy, finding any excuse to deny the union’s existence.

Community Health Systems is based in an area of the country that is inhospitable to unions.  Possibly, the corporation believes that this area is similar. It is not.

Led by Commissioner Nicolas Leger, the commission has rightfully questioned Alta Vista about its refusal to sit down with its union. With its presumably high-paid team of lawyers, the corporation has been appealing the 2007 union election. It failed repeatedly with the National Labor Relations Board. Now it has gone to federal court.

Meanwhile, Grogan is left to defend this dubious strategy at the local level. We hope he’s quietly encouraging his Tennessee bosses to give up its anti-union stance. Maybe it would work in Greenville, Ala., but not here in Las Vegas.

Given the fighting spirit of the Meadow City, we suspect the union will win and the hospital will lose. And only the corporate lawyers will get richer.