National Labor Relations Board rules GW Hospital violated labor laws

September 16, 2019

By Lia DeGroot | The GW Hatchet

The GW Hospital violated labor laws by improperly withdrawing recognition of the labor union representing hospital workers, according to a National Labor Relations Board decision released on Sept. 4.

1199SEIU, the labor union for GW Hospital workers, filed a complaint with the NLRB after the hospital failed to properly increase workers’ pay, the decision states. The GW Hospital attempted to persuade labor union members to disassociate with the union, changed previously stated bargaining terms and halted any future bargaining, according to the decision.

“The complaint further alleges that the Hospital improperly withdrew recognition from the Union after nearly two years of bad faith and regressive bargaining, subsequently rejected the Union’s request to continue bargaining and immediately proceeded to implement unilateral changes to employees’ terms and conditions of employment,” the decision states.

The union has been negotiating a new agreement with the GW Hospital since its last five-year contract expired in 2016, according to the decision. Workers protested outside the hospital last June to demand that the GW Hospital meet with the union to draw up a new contract and increase workers’ wages.

The NLRB heard 1199SEIU’s complaint from June 18 to 20.

Hospital officials encouraged members of the union to de-unionize by offering workers pay raises and a travel stipend, Washington City Paper reported.

“That’s union-busting at its best,” Yahnae Barner, the vice president of 1199SEIU told Washington City Paper. “Union-busting is bad for workers and patients. It gives management the power to make all employment decisions without workers like health care benefits, hours and patient-care ratios.”

The GW Hospital plans to appeal the decision, stating that the hospital’s practices are congruent with guidelines set by the National Labor Relations Act, Washington City Paper reported.

“George Washington University Hospital disagrees with the ruling of the Administrative Law Judge on this matter,” Christine Searight, a GW Hospital spokeswoman told Washington City Paper. “We dispute and deny all the allegations made by the union and believe the evidence presented at the trial demonstrated our good faith efforts and compliance with the NLRA.”

Seawright did not immediately return The Hatchet’s request for comment.