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A union representing nurses around the country applauded the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday for bringing a complaint alleging unfair labor practices at seven hospitals operated by Community Health Systems, including Fallbrook Medical Center in northern San Diego County.

The NLRB, in a complaint filed Monday, alleged that Tennessee-based CHS violated employee rights by, among other things, maintaining rules that infringe on their rights to discuss wages, hours and working conditions with one another and to advocate for better treatment; making statements and taking actions against employees for participating in union activities; and failing to engage in good-faith collective bargaining.

In all, 29 charges were filed against CHS, which operates nearly 200 hospitals in 29 states. The agency said regional efforts to settle the dispute failed, resulting in the complaint.

“We are thrilled that the NLRB has finally recognized what nurses working at CHS-owned hospitals have known all along, that CHS is their employer and should be held accountable for the eroding conditions in the hospitals that it owns,” said Deborah Burger, a co-president of National Nurses United.

“We are particularly heartened that the remedies proposed in the complaint would pertain to all CHS-owned hospitals with the potential to contribute to improved patient care for people across the nation,” she said.

Tomi Galin of CHS said in an emailed statement that “we disagree with the National Labor Relations Board general counsel’s determinations and intend to vigorously contest this through the appropriate forums. Quality patient care will continue at each of the named hospitals and will not be impacted by this process.”

The union accuses CHS of terminating nurse leaders in an attempt to weaken support for organized labor and prevent initial collective bargaining agreements to be reached.

Other CHS hospitals in California named in the complaint are in Barstow and Watsonville.

 City News Service

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