Thursday, May 1, 2014

St. Joe nurses file complaints with national labor board

Published: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 10:50 p.m. CDT
JOLIET – A union nurses association says Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center engaged in unlawful actions against its bargaining team in Joliet, an allegation the hospital says isn't true.

Illinois Nurses Association members are engaged in contract negotiations with administrators at Presence Saint Joseph. On Monday, association officials filed with the National Labor Relations Board an unfair labor practice complaint against the Joliet hospital, saying the hospital refused to release one of its union members for a scheduled contract negotiation meeting last Friday, a meeting that ultimately was canceled.

An information officer with the Chicago branch of the National Labor Relations Board confirmed Tuesday the office had received the complaint. The complaint also alleges the hospital conducted unlawful surveillance against a member when that person distributed union information outside work hours.

Lisa Lagger, Presence Saint Joseph spokeswoman, responded in an email that the unfair labor practice charges are without merit and create an unproductive distraction. 

The nurses association canceled a bargaining session scheduled for Friday when one of its members did not properly plan his time off, she wrote.

“Multiple alternatives to accommodate the staffing needs of his very busy unit were offered, but these options were turned down,” Lagger wrote in the email.

In the complaint, the union alleges that on or about April 22, Presence Saint Joseph hospital officials violated the National Labor Relations Act by unilaterally changing the practice of bargaining unit members attending collective bargaining sessions.

The complaint claims that on that same day, hospital officials engaged in unlawful surveillance and photographing of protected union bannering activity. On April 22, union nurses had gathered in an open rally in Joliet to promote safer nurse staffing levels at the hospital.

The complaint also stated that, last Friday, hospitals officials – with the use of security guards – engaged in unlawful surveillance of union members when they distributed union literature outside of work hours and in a non-work area.

Chris Martin, Illinois Nurses Association spokesman, said the actions that hospital officials have taken are against federal law and the union hopes the National Labor Relations Board will agree.

“We’re confident that we will prevail,” he said.

Lagger said another negotiation session is scheduled for Wednesday.


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