Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., is the latest battleground in the war among California's two largest healthcare unions. Tenet said it has reached an agreement with the Service Employees International Union and a branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees covering Tenet's 41 California hospitals and two Florida hospitals. Some of the hospitals are unionized, while others would be covered if employees decide to unionize. The California Nurses Association, which declined to join the pact, accused Tenet of trying to influence organizing elections by promising benefits to employees who choose the SEIU or AFSCME. The CNA said it would file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and is considering other legal action.
The agreement provides a streamlined negotiation process for workers who join the SEIU or AFSCME to get raises and contract terms similar to a deal negotiated by the SEIU and Tenet at Garfield Medical Center, Monterey Park, Calif. There, raises could be as high as 29% over four years, the SEIU said. The agreement also establishes an expedited union election process and gives the unions a say on training programs and a quality task force. Tenet said the deal gives it labor-cost certainty and is the start of a partnership that can "advocate for public policy solutions" in healthcare. The CNA accused Tenet of seeking to buy the SEIU's political clout. The CNA also said late yesterday that it is presenting organizing petitions from 1,500 registered nurses at seven Tenet hospitals in California to the NLRB. The petitions could lead to a secret ballot on whether to unionize. -- by Vince Galloro