Calif. Public Employee Board Files Complaint after Oak Valley Hospital Rescinds Union Rights

CONTACT: R.J. Hufnagel; (412) 562-2450;

MODESTO, Calif. (June 2) – The California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has filed a legal complaint in response to Oak Valley Hospital’s decision to rescind the hospital’s recognition of the United Steelworkers (USW) union as the bargaining representative for hospital employees.

The board sided with the union and is asking Stanislaus County Superior Court to issue a temporary restraining order that would restore the workers’ bargaining rights, which the hospital administration attempted to rescind in response to petitions circulated among union members during recent contract bargaining.

USW Local 12911 represents about 200 employees at the Oakdale, Calif., facility, including nurses, pharmacists, janitors, food service workers and others.

“This is a victory not just for this brave group of workers but the entire community. The hospital’s attempt to unilaterally abolish a democratically established union is a slap in the face to a dedicated and hard-working group of professionals and to the members of this region who rely on them for quality health care,” said Bob LaVenture, director of USW District 12, which includes California and eight other western states. “The hospital should restore the rights of these workers, return to the bargaining table and work with us to reach a fair agreement.”

The court could decide to issue a temporary order as early as Monday. That order would remain in effect while the court considers issuing an injunction that could fully restore the workers’ rights.

“Through its actions, the hospital administration is showing a lack of respect in its role as a major employer and as the only public health-care provider in a small, close-knit region,” said Belinda Knight, who has worked in the hospital’s housekeeping department for seven years and has lived in Oakdale for 30 years. “All we are asking for is to be treated with dignity and fairness and to be granted the same rights that all working people deserve.”

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments and agencies.

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