60 Seconds with... Kevin Troutman, labor attorney, Fisher & Phillips LLP

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Q: What does the most recent batch of National Labor Relations Board rulings regarding charge nurses mean for long-term care providers? A: When you talk about union organizing, it really means the door is wide open to all the (nursing home) nurses there. The NLRB found charge nurses in question (in the Golden Crest case) were not supervisors because they didn't play the role of supervisor. They didn't have the authority to move from one floor to another, for example.

Q: But most people, and especially the unions, focused on the lead case, "Oakwood," which was acute-care oriented. This case found some hospital charge nurses did hold supervisory status, right?

A: Right. But even there, only 12 of more than 100 RNs were found to be supervisors.

Q: So how critical were these rulings?

A: I don't think it was really good news or bad news. Under normal circumstances, we like a bigger group to vote. We want a larger bargaining unit. The unions' reaction is predictably overstating the results of the decisions.

Q: Why would they do that?

A: I think they're trying to create an "us vs. them" scenario. It keeps the conversation going.

Q: So what does it mean in the long run?

A: Substantively, I don't think these decisions are going to make a big difference in looking at who's a supervisor or not.