ORANGE, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - The Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board in Los Angeles on Wednesday authorized a complaint against a major healthcare union and hospital officials alleging they forced workers to accept an unwanted union in the workplace.
Marlene Felter of Costa Mesa filed charges with the NLRB alleging that Service Employees International Union Healthcare Workers West officials and Chapman Medical Center colluded to manipulate a union-organizing vote to make the union represent the workers.
SEIU officials and Chapman Medical Center management entered into a "neutrality agreement," in which company officials granted union operatives access to company facilities to conduct a "card check" organizing campaign, it is alleged. It waived the right to have a federally-supervised secret ballot election to determine whether employees wished to be unionized, the NLRB says.
According to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which provided free legal assistance to the complainants, the majority of hospital workers signed cards, letters and petitions stating that they did not want the SEIU representation. But Chapman officials still accepted the SEIU as the workers' monopoly bargaining agents after the "card count" was held.
Chapman and SEIU officials are in the process of negotiating a contract. Potentially, this contract could include a provision to force the workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. This would be legal because California does not have a right-to-work law that makes union membership and dues payment strictly voluntary.
According to the NRTW, the NLRB Regional Office subpoenaed records from SEIU and found merit to Felter's charges. It will prosecute the union and hospital if a settlement is not reached. Such a settlement would include rescission of the union's representational status at Chapman.
"Chapman and SEIU officials have colluded to shove SEIU union bosses' 'representation' - and with it forced dues payments - down workers' throats," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work.
"Schemes like this show that the ultimate goal of union officials is more forced dues collected from workers, even when rank-and-file employees want nothing to do with the union. This further makes the case that California desperately needs a Right to Work law on the books making union affiliation completely voluntary."