In the most recent round of legal wranglings between nurses and management at Danville, Pa.-based Penn State Geisinger Health System, a union victory was reversed April 9 after 73 previously challenged and sealed election ballots were counted, a labor official said.
Of the 82 total challenged ballots, 73 votes were tallied, and of the 73, 46 voted against the union, and 27 voted in favor of it, said Francis Hoeber, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Regional Office of the National Labor Relations Board.
The final vote was a close one: 367 against the union, 358 for it.
In December nurses voted 331-321 in favor of joining District 1199P of the Service Employees International Union.
The 73 unsealed votes were cast by members of the Tel-A-Nurse program, through which registered nurses provide medical assistance over the phone, Hoeber said.
In the March 26 ruling, the NLRB determined that 73 of the Tel-A-Nurses should be allowed to vote on whether the hospital's 700 registered nurses will be represented by the SEIU.
The results were a setback for the union but not for the nurses, District 1199P Vice President Neal Bisno said in a press release.
District 1199P promises to press on with efforts to have a new election held at the hospital.
A new election is possible only if the NLRB finds merit in the union's allegations that management illegally tried to influence nurses to vote against the union before the December election.
The union alleges "a pattern of threats, intimidation, discrimination and other unlawful conduct on the part of (Geisinger Medical Center) during the election campaign last fall."
The NLRB, which officiates union elections, will review those objections as well as a list of others filed by management.
However, management will probably drop its allegations of improper union conduct considering the April 9 results, said hospital spokesman Bob Bomboy.