Alta Vista Regional Hospital plans to continue its fight against a union seeking to organize its workers.
In a memo to employees last week, Richard Grogan, the hospital’s CEO, informed employees that Alta Vista plans to seek a federal court review of a recent National Labor Relations Board ruling favorable to the union.
His memo came two days after word arrived that the NLRB upheld a regional hearing officer’s ruling rejecting the hospital’s arguments against a union election held in June.
“We were notified that a two-member panel of the NLRB has refused to acknowledge the objections we raised regarding the election conducted this past summer,” Grogan wrote.
Last summer, two-thirds of hospital employees voted to be represented by District 1199 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, a branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Among other things, Alta Vista, owned by Brentwood, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, contended that professional and nonprofessional employees should not be in a combined unit. However, the NLRB stated that it found no merit in the hospital’s argument because that matter had already been addressed.
The hospital also contested whether the election started on time, indicating that it was a minute late.
Grogan stated that because the hospital plans to appeal, it can’t negotiate with employees yet.
“Unfortunately, the National Labor Relations Act forces us to refuse to bargain in order to obtain a court review. In fact, the only process we have to obtain a court review of the NLRB’s decision is for us to refuse to begin negotiating,” he said.
Louie Rael of the Alta Vista’s workers organizing committee said a majority of hospital employees have let administrators and the community know what they want and need.
“We feel we have received tremendous community support. Now is the time for this community, the local politicians and the surrounding communities to rally behind the employees and our union,” Rael said in a statement. “Our hope is that everyone will contact the hospital’s administration and its corporation, CHS, to let them know what they expect and want from a community hospital.”
Rael, a registered nurse, said in an interview last week that he had seen positive signs since Grogan took over as CEO in January. He said he hoped the hospital would accept the election results, contending that Alta Vista had already wasted much money fighting the union.
The hospital has maintained that a union would create discord at Alta Vista and that employees could deal directly with superiors without an organization.