Nurses' union wins bargaining agreement

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A federal appeals court agreed that an agreement between union nurses and a hospital should have been honored by new owners. 

Nurses at Community Hospital of Huntington Park in California were under a collective bargaining agreement between the California Nurses Association and hospital owner Karykeion Inc. that ran from Jan. 1, 2007, to June 30, 2010.

Avanti Health Systems LLC and its subsidiaries CHHP Holdings II LLC and CHHP Management began negotiating to buy the hospital after Karykeion went bankrupt in 2008, but it required Karykeion to reject the nurses' agreement.

It also required rejecting a separate agreement with the Service Employees International Union, which represented janitorial employees at the hospital. CHHP began running Community Hospital in March 2010.

According to a U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit Oct. 31 ruling, litigation began in late 2010. The California Nurses Association filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board, and the Acting General Counsel of the NLRB filed a complaint against CHHP, alleging violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

In February 2011, NLRB regional director James F. Small asked the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California for a preliminary injunction against CHHP, alleging that the provider was continuing to violate sections of the labor act by “refusing to recognize and bargain with the CNA despite CHHP's status as a successor employer to Karykeion.” The district court agreed with Small and granted the injunction.

The appeals court affirmed that decision after looking at different facets of the district court decision, such as whether there was evidence that enough of the RNs were in a bargaining unit under Karykeion's ownership, and whether a failure to bargain meant a “likelihood of irreparable harm.”