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Labor Relations

Labor board orders Napa's Queen of the Valley to recognize union

Picket at the Queen (copy)

Hospital workers gathered outside Napa's Queen of the Valley Medical Center, a Providence St. Joseph hospital, for a two-hour picket in August. 

The National Labor Relations Board has rejected Queen of the Valley’s most recent appeal to overturn a union election of more than 400 workers who voted join the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

The hospital, under a judge’s order, started contract bargaining with the union last year while appealing the ruling to the labor board.

With both sides far apart in negotiations, Queen caregivers held a one-day strike on Nov. 20.

The workers, representing such job classifications as respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, medical technicians, housekeepers and food service workers, voted in November 2016 to join the NUHW.

In its unanimous Nov. 25 ruling, the three-member Labor Board panel ordered Queen to “cease and desist” from withdrawing recognition from the union, refusing to bargain collectively or changing the terms and conditions of employment without first notifying the union and giving it an opportunity to bargain, said a news release from the union.

It also ordered the hospital to post a notice throughout the hospital stating that “The National Labor Relations Board has found that we violated Federal labor law” and make workers whole for any loss of earnings or benefits suffered as a result of unilateral changes imposed by the hospital, said the news release.

In response to the NLRB decision, Queen spokesperson Christina Harris said, “We are reviewing this decision to determine if it has any practical effect on us, as we have engaged in good faith bargaining with NUHW since last year.”

“We originally pursued this appeal to protect employee free choice,” Harris wrote in an email. “That choice was marred by the numerous spoiled and misdelivered ballots in this election—there were more such ballots than the union’s margin of victory,” she said.

The hospital previously lost two bids to overturn union election arguing that workers were disenfranchised by the vote-by-mail election, the union’s release stated.

“This ruling should be a wake-up call to Larry Coomes and Queen management, especially after they locked out workers who went on strike last month,” said Irma Robles, a Queen nursing assistant.

“It’s time to stop wasting money on attorneys and retaliating against dedicated caregivers and start working with us to make Queen a better hospital that can attract and keep the highest quality caregivers.”

Jennifer Huffman's most memorable stories from 2019

I wrote more than 225 stories in 2019 but to me, these five stand out the most, for different reasons.

You can reach Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or jhuffman@napanews.com

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

Related to this story

Thursday hospital workers picketed outside the Queen, a Providence St. Joseph hospital, “to demand contracts that provide safe staffing” as Providence seeks state approval to create a partnership with its Northern California hospitals and several belonging to Adventist Health. 

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