Nearly eight months after nurses at Providence St. Joseph Medical
Center voted to form a union, the National Labor Relations Board has
certified the election.
In a six-page ruling mailed to the union May 30, a three-member
board panel said hospital officials failed to demonstrate that union
officials “engaged in conduct that reasonably tended to interfere
with the employees’ free and un-coerced choice in the election.”
The hospital’s decision not to recognize the union until an appeal
process had been completed touched off protests by nurses and union
officials and a series of advertisements posted at Burbank bus stops.
Jane Johnson, a registered nurse at the hospital, said morale had
been low among nurses for the past few months.
“I’m so thankful we can put this all behind us and move forward,”
In September, nurses voted 274-244 to form a union with Service
Employees International Union, but the labor board did not certify
the election until January because of contested ballots.
The board also rejected allegations by the hospital that union
organizers interfered with and coerced nurses on the day of the
election. Hospital officials appealed that ruling to the national
board, which also rejected the hospital’s objections.
Hospital officials declined to comment on the decision, but a
statement released by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Myron Berdischewsky
said “we will prepare to move ahead with negotiations and bargain in
good faith with SEIU in order to reach a fair and equitable
agreement."Spokesman Dan Boyle said the hospital began the appeal
process after several nurses who voted against the union raised
concerns about the behavior of organizers during the election.
However, SEIU spokeswoman Jennifer Kelly said the appeals were
nothing more than stalling tactics that Providence Health Systems has
used at other hospitals where nurses attempted to unionize.
“They went through decision after decision, looking for any legal
loopholes they could find to slow the process,” Kelly said.
A date to begin negotiations has not been set, but Johnson said
the primary concern for her and other nurses would be staffing.
The hospital currently meets its staffing needs by hiring
part-time traveling nurses, but Johnson said the amount of time it
takes to train them takes away from the time nurses can spend on
“We believe if the hospital had a more attractive package they
wouldn’t have to hire such a large transient workforce,” she said.