Registered nurses are hailing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Office of General Counsel's decision to move forward with a complaint against healthcare giant Community Health Systems and Quorum Health Corporation for numerous alleged labor violations.
"We welcome this new complaint and are particularly glad that the NLRB will be holding Quorum Health Corporation accountable for labor violations at the hospitals that it now owns," said Amy Pulley, an RN at Affinity Medical Center in Massillon, Ohio. "CHS has repeatedly demonstrated that it has no respect for the law. With this complaint the NLRB is sending the message that the parent company of these hospitals will be held accountable, even if they are a new owner.”
The complaint, issued by the NLRB earlier this week, consolidates 11 charges and 50 unfair labor practices filed against CHS, and five hospitals staffed by RNs affiliated with National Nurses United. The hospitals are: Affinity Medical Center, Massillon, Oh, Bluefield Regional Medical Center, Bluefield, W. Va., Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, Ronceverte, W.Va., Barstow Community Hospital, Barstow, Ca., and Watsonville Community Hospital, Watsonville, Ca.
This is the second national complaint against CHS issued by the NLRB in less than a year for numerous labor violations at the five hospitals and the first time the NLRB is also naming Quorum as the successor to CHS. The hospitals in Ohio and California were sold earlier this year to Quorum Health Corporation, a spinoff created by CHS.
The NLRB trial for the earlier complaint began in February and is currently underway in hearings being held and planned across the country, including in Nashville, Tennessee, near where the headquarters of CHS are located. The NLRB has not scheduled the trial or hearings for this newest complaint but they are expected to take place after the current trial is complete.
In a statement issued by National Nurses United and National Nurses Organizing committee, the two organizations said concerns about patient safety were the driving force union organizing activities at CHS's hospitals in Ohio, West Virginia and California. Nurses at those facilities won representation through NNU-affiliated unions, California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee, despite the unions’ charges that CHS has engaged in unfair labor practices that included terminating RN leaders.
The NLRB has upheld numerous unfair labor practice charges filed against the hospitals by the union, and three US District Courts issued injunctions in response to the employer's unlawful conduct early in contract negotiations with RNs.
In September, the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles issued a fourth federal injunction against one of the hospitals named in this week's complaint, Barstow Community Hospital, ordering it to cease and desist its violations of the collective bargaining rights of its registered nurses.