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Nurses Union Wins Appeal on Bargaining, Back Wages

From Associated Press

The University Medical Center should continue to recognize and bargain with a local nurses union although the hospital is now privately held, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled.

The National Labor Relations Board “reasonably found that the nurses continued to do the same jobs, in the same location, using the same equipment, and treating the same patients as they had before the acquisition, and that the nature of the employer’s business -- an acute health care facility -- remained the same,” the appellate court said in its opinion issued Friday.

The ruling also requires the hospital to compensate the nurses for any wages or benefits they have lost since the 1996 takeover by Community Hospitals of Central California.

“That’s a huge deal because there are pay cuts and benefits losses that the nurses endured, and that now have to be restored,” said Don Nielsen, Central Valley director for the California Nurses Assn.

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Fresno nurses who were members of the union had filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the NLRB in 1996 when Community Hospitals took over Valley Medical Center from Fresno County and changed its name to University Medical Center.

The union had represented Fresno nurses since 1976 and insisted it continue to do so after the ownership change.

Community Hospitals, which had two other nonunion facilities, argued that the union shouldn’t be recognized because there wasn’t “substantial continuity” between the old Valley Medical Center and the new University Medical Center.

The hospital also argued that it had changed its management structure, nurses’ schedules and compensation when it shifted to private ownership.

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