Judge's ruling reverses firing of worker

After a year-long investigation and hearing, a judge has ordered one of California’s largest hospital corporations to reinstate a worker who was illegally fired after SEIU conspired with management to remove her because of her support for NUHW. The 50-page ruling offers the latest evidence of SEIU officials’ collusion with California healthcare corporations.

Here’s what the judge found:

Executives at Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, after consulting with SEIU officials, launched a campaign of “serious unfair labor practices” designed “to squelch the SEIU-UHW bargaining unit employees’ increasing support for the NUHW.”

The judge’s ruling states: “I believe that, having become aware of its bargaining unit employees’ antipathy towards the SEIU-UHW by virtue of their decertification petition and of the NUHW’s nascent organizing efforts amongst said employees, Respondent [Sutter Health] favored the SEIU-UHW and embarked upon a campaign designed to quell its employees’ suspected growing support for the NUHW.” (p. 33)

Sutter executives hired plain-clothed security guards to photograph, surveil and intimidate workers if they talked about NUHW (p. 14 & 39). The company changed its “solicitation and distribution policy” to stop workers from discussing NUHW and circulating leaflets (pp. 39-40). And the company threatened, suspended and even fired one employee for simply providing information about NUHW to her co-workers in the hospital’s cafeteria (pp. 43-45).

“…Respondent [Sutter Health] redefined its solicitation/distribution policies on March 20 and March 23 specifically in order to hinder said employees’ actions in support of the NUHW. In this regard, I note that Respondent placed no similar restrictions upon SEIU-UHW agents, who utilized its cafeterias to meet with bargaining unit employees in order to discuss union business and distribute literature… I reiterate my view that said redefinitions were designed to impede the SEIU-UHW bargaining unit employees from engaging in support of the NUHW.” (pp. 39- 40)

SEIU staffers’ involvement in illegal firing of SEIU member

The NLRB hearing also documented how SEIU staffers Cass Gualvez, Erica McDuffy and Carrie Cianchetti colluded with Sutter executives to illegally fire Beverly Griffith, a housekeeper who had worked at the hospital for 31 years and had been elected to numerous union leadership positions during her career.

One former SEIU organizer, in a sworn affidavit, described how she attended SEIU staff meetings at which Gualvez, McDuffy and Cianchetti identified Beverly as “a problem person because she is a well-respected leader at her hospital and was opposed to SEIU’s trusteeship.” According to the sworn testimony: “At these meetings, SEIU organizers talked about the need to get rid of Beverly – how they needed to come up with a plan to get her out of the way… The consensus was that we had to get rid of Beverly, whatever it takes.”

A second former staffer testified how McDuffy bragged to other SEIU staffers about having gotten Sutter’s security guards to “throw Beverly out of her own facility.” One day at the union’s office, according to the testimony, McDuffy came across an old leaflet with Beverly’s photo and stated: “Why is this bitch’s face on all the flyers?” McDuffy bragged about directly confronting Beverly and pledging to get her fired. “I’m going to be here long after you’re gone,” McDuffy told Beverly.

In February of 2009, McDuffy filed a complaint against Beverly with Sutter executives based on allegations that the judge found groundless. Nonetheless, Sutter officials, acting solely on McDuffy’s allegations, disciplined Beverly without even investigating the incident. At Beverly’s NLRB hearing, SEIU directed its staff to testify on behalf of management and against one of SEIU’s own members. SEIU took this action despite the fact that Sutter Health is one of the most anti-union hospital companies in California.

In the end, the judge cited Sutter for multiple “serious” violations of federal labor law and ordered Beverly reinstated to her job with back pay. Workers at the facility are awaiting an NLRB election, which may soon be scheduled following the NLRB’s dismissal of SEIU charges that have blocked workers’ election for 16 months.

Follow this link for more information about NUHW: http://www.NUHW.org.

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