Federal Labor Board Accuses Napa Hospital Of Preventing Workers From Unionizing

By Susie Steimle

NAPA (KPIX 5) — One of the biggest hospitals in the North Bay and the largest employer in Napa County is accused of underhanded tactics to stop employees from unionizing.

The National Labor Relations Board says Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, and operated by St. Joseph Health System, is also refusing to bargain in good faith.

Ray Herrera, a registered radiologic technologist who has been working in Queen of the Valley’s imaging center for 17 years said, “Our laws have been violated. Our civil rights have been violated.”

Herrera’s been trying to help his coworkers unionize the entire time he’s been employed at the hospital.

Finally, in November, hospital employees voted to elect a union.

But the hospital says they didn’t follow proper protocol.

Herrera says the hospital is just trying to scare them out of organizing.

“They have very much intimidated the cafeteria workers and the housekeeping workers, many of them are Spanish speakers, not as educated, and seem like easy targets,” Herrera said.

Now the National Labor Relations Board is involved and backing up Herrera’s claims, saying the hospital is guilty of coercion.

Federal investigations allege that the hospital retaliated against workers who were talking to the union, by changing their schedules.

But hospital management maintains November’s election wasn’t fair since it was done through the mail.

The hospital says, “We have previously communicated to the NLRB that we deny the Union’s allegations and will continue to pursue our avenue to appeal … we respect our employees’ right to vote to support or not support a union in a secret ballot election.”

“One of the reasons we did a mail election was so people could vote from their house and not feel intimidated,” Herrera said.

Employees have tried to unionize three times in the past 20 years and Herrera argues that not having a union is directly affecting patient care, even in the emergency room.

“We see patients waiting for hours in the emergency room because they don’t want to call anyone in on overtime,” Herrera said.

“You put 17, 25, 30 years with a place and they show you no dignity, no respect,” Herrera said. “It’s a slap in the face.”

If the medical center and the employees who are trying to unionize don’t come to an agreement in the next few months, this will go to court.

Right now a judicial hearing is scheduled for August 7, 2017.

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