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Workers Left Out of NLRB Settlement Process
Written by Erin Johansson   
November 14, 2008

A friendly reminder to staff of the National Labor Relations Board: your agency exists to protect the interests of workers—not the employers who break the law. I’m compelled to bring this up because of the recent actions taken by a regional NLRB office to settle a complaint against an employer without any input from the nurses who brought the charges.

In May of this year, nurses at Legacy Hospital in Portland, OR, filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, alleging their employer illegally barred nurses from discussing the union in all areas of the worksite, and called in security to escort nurses off the property for engaging in union activity. On September 30, the NLRB issued a complaint charging the company with illegally suppressing union activity, and scheduled a hearing for October.*

Yet without consulting with the nurses, the NLRB canceled the hearing and settled the charges with the hospital, which simply agreed to post a notice describing the nurses’ rights under the law. None of the nurses’ concerns were addressed.

There is clearly pressure on the NLRB regions to quickly settle unfair labor practice cases, and this is costing workers full access to the remedies and protections provided to them under the law. Last week, we released research revealing the large percentage of fired workers who accept an NLRB settlement rather than navigate the lengthy process of getting reinstated. Until we can pass the Employee Free Choice Act to reform this broken system, workers should at least be able to trust the NLRB to represent their best interests. 

*Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center, Complaint Issued by the National Labor Relations Board, 36-CA-10311, Sept. 30, 2008.