National Nurses United and the affiliated California Nurses Association say they've won the rights to unionize nurses at Kaiser Permanente's flagship hospital in Los Angeles, months after it called for a strike at the hospital despite not representing its nurses.
NNU won the vote Thursday at Los Angeles Medical Center by nearly 70% with 696 votes, beating out the San Dimas-based United Nurses Associations of California-Union of Health Care Professionals, which received 305 votes, according to NNU. One nurse voted against unionization in the secret ballot vote conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, the union said.
In April, NNU called for nurses at LAMC and eight other hospitals to go on strike over concerns about nurses staffing, even though LAMC's unionization vote was yet to take place. Kaiser criticized the union's tactics and said it was “entirely inappropriate to attempt to disrupt patient care or service as part of a union organizing effort.”
The 1,200 nurses are now tasked with appointing a bargaining team who will engage in immediate contract talks with Kaiser, according to the union. But history proves it will be a rocky road ahead, as Kaiser and the NNU often butt heads.
The union accuses not-for-profit Kaiser of “profiting” from its members and lambasts its staffing levels as inadequate. Kaiser claims the union is solely focused on wage increases.
Kaiser remained neutral throughout the election and supports the right of its nurses to choose their representation, said John Nelson, Kaiser's vice president of government relations. The NLRB is expected to certify the election soon but has already acknowledged that CNA received enough votes, he said in a statement.
“We believe this election process was fair and we will respect the majority decision, as certified by the NLRB,” Nelson said. “We look forward to working with CNA to reach a fair and equitable contract to continue to provide our nurses at the Los Angeles Medical Center with an excellent place to work.”
With the addition of LAMC, the union will now represent over 20,000 Kaiser RNs and nurse practitioners at Kaiser's hospitals and clinics. CNA represents over 90,000 RNs across California, and has been quickly expanding its presence in the southern part of the state.
“In my 30 years at CNA, I cannot recall a more incredible group of RNs who were more determined to join our organization to have a powerful voice to protect their patients and advocate for their colleagues. We are extremely proud to welcome them into the CNA/NNU family,” RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of both organizations, said in a statement.