Close Server: KOPWWW05 | Not logged in

Welcome to Health Care POV | sign in | join
Legal Speak

Union Dues

Published October 18, 2012 11:43 AM by Tony DeWitt
I grew up in a house where no one was a union member. About the time I was 14, my aunt married a guy who was a union steward, and I learned first hand about unions from him. He was very proud of his union membership and what it had done for workers at the factory where he worked. But it always amazed me that if a worker dropped a bolt or spilled something on the floor, they could not clean it up. That was a job that belonged exclusively to another group of unionized workers. It seemed to me that unions were very inefficient, at least from the perspective of someone who normally picked things up when he dropped them.

As a health care worker I never believed unions were in the patient's best interest in the hospital setting. I still hold that belief in general, although the long-term care arena is one of the few places where I believe the benefits and protections afforded workers outweigh the slight risks to patients. Much of the work force in a long-term care facility is unskilled labor (nurses aides and assistants). Many of these folks could not act as their own advocates in getting better pay or benefits, and probably require a union to get it done in situations where management is purely profit driven. In the majority of well-run nursing facilities, unions do not add much. If you treat employees fairly, in most cases you never have to worry about a union.

Today comes news of a union-related problem in California. The facility at issue was sold. The seller employed nurses and aides represented by a union. The buyer knew this, but didn't want to deal with them. When the new buyer took over, he decided he did not need union workers and proceeded to refuse to negotiate with them, firing union workers and replacing them with non-union employees. The union filed an action with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

But you just can't do that. The National Labor Relations Board imposed a $1.25 million assessment, directing the rehiring of terminated workers and ordering backpay. It also issued an order mandating compliance. 

This is what happens when people who have never tried to deal with a union try to deal with one in a heavy-handed way and without legal assistance up front. The union may not win the early battles, but in the end it prevails with the NLRB. Along the way, legal costs mount, and whatever money the facility saved by trying to dislodge the union it wound up paying back twice when it was all over. And now employees who probably never would have joined a union now see that a union has a significant advantage for them.

If you have union woes, hire an expert. Don't try to go it alone. Lots of companies provide legal and professional assistance in dealing with unions. They earn their money.

posted by Tony DeWitt


leave a comment

To prevent comment spam, please type the code you see below into the code field before submitting your comment. If you cannot read the numbers in the image, reload the page to generate a new one.

Enter the security code below:


About this Blog

    A.L. "Tony" DeWitt, RRT, CRT, JD, FAARC
    Occupation: Attorney
    Setting: Jefferson City, Mo.
  • About Blog and Author

Keep Me Updated