CALIFORNIA–(ENEWSPF)–March 1, 2013. The Sutter corporation’s Sutter Solano hospital in Vallejo has been ordered to stand trial on charges that it violated federal law in imposing immediate hundreds of dollars a month in higher healthcare costs for registered nurses, and, starting next year, eliminating all health coverage for nurses who work less than 30 but more than 20 hours a week.
In response to unfair labor practice charges filed by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which represents the Solano RNs, the National Labor Relations Board San Francisco region issued the formal complaint late last week.
Unless Sutter Solano rescinds the unilateral increase in health costs, reimburses those costs with interest, and reinstates the prior health coverage, the complaint requires it to stand trial for its illegal actions in a May 14 hearing in San Francisco.
“Once again, Sutter has been shown to be an employer who fails to respect the law and the rights and well being of its nurses and their families,” said Janet Braillard, RN at Sutter Solano.
“At a time when Sutter continues to make record profits, it is unconscionable that it is seeking to force huge increases in healthcare costs on its RNs, and seeking to deny coverage entirely for hundreds of other nurses and their families,” said Braillard.
“It is time for Sutter Solano, and all the other Sutter hospitals that are at war with their nurses, to show some dignity and respect for those who, unlike their top executives, actually provide care for Sutter patients and communities, and work with the RNs on a new, fair, collective bargaining contract,” she said.
In January, Sutter Solano unilaterally implemented a demand for a huge spike in out of pocket health costs for RNs and their families, along with ending health coverage for part time nurses next year. The issue of massive increases in health coverage costs, and the determination to end health coverage entirely for nurses working under 30 hours, has been a major issue in the ongoing dispute between RNs and Sutter Solano.
Sutter Solano has been demanding for months that the nurses accept the unwarranted takeaway, and also agree to let the hospital unilaterally raise rates or reduce coverage without the consent of the nurses or union at any time. When the RNs have consistently refused to agree to the outrageous proposal, Sutter Solano went ahead and implemented the change anyway – a move that the NLRB says was illegal, violating the nurses’ collective bargaining rights.
Several other Sutter Bay Area hospitals are insisting on similar massive increases, despite the fact that Sutter hardly needs the economic help. Sutter is among the most profitable hospital systems in the U.S. Since 2007 alone, Sutter has recorded $3.6 billion in profits, and pays28 top executives more than $1 million in compensation, by far the most of all California hospital systems.
This is not the first time Sutter has been found guilty of violating the law on forcing higher healthcare costs on nurses. Last year it was ordered by the labor board to rescind unilateral increases at its Novato and Mills-Peninsula hospitals. At Mills-Peninsula, subsequently, hospital officials agreed to negotiate with the RNs on a new contract, now in force.