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Union Seeks to Organize Nurses at 7 Tenet Hospitals

A petition is filed with federal labor board to allow a vote by 1,500 workers in L.A. County at the second-largest for-profit chain in U.S.

May 02, 2003|Tracy Weber | Times Staff Writer

The California Nurses Assn. filed a petition Thursday with a federal labor board, seeking to unionize registered nurses at seven Los Angeles County hospitals owned by Tenet Healthcare, the nation's second-largest for-profit hospital chain.

If the 1,500 Tenet nurses vote to join the union, they will follow thousands of others in Southern California in organizing to seek better pay and working conditions.

The unionization effort has been pursued aggressively by the California Nurses Assn., the largest nurses' union in the state.

But the Tenet nurses could face a long road.

Administrators at three hospitals in Los Angeles County repeatedly have challenged recent votes by their nurses to unionize.

Administrators at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center and Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank all have appealed pro-union votes to the National Labor Relations Board's Washington headquarters.

The regional labor board previously rejected claims by all three hospitals that unions intimidated nurses or defaced anti-union material.

An election at the Tenet-owned hospitals could be held in 30 days if the labor board approves the union's petition.

The hospitals are Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, Daniel Freeman-Marina Hospital in Marina del Rey, Los Alamitos Medical Center, Mission Hospital and Community Hospital in Huntington Park and Suburban Medical Center in Paramount.

The California Nurses Assn. already represents more than 1,000 Tenet nurses at other hospitals.

Nurses at one of the hospitals, Doctors Medical Center San Pablo-Pinole in Northern California, have been on strike since Nov. 4.

"Nurses have a choice where they can work," said Charles Idelson, a spokesman for the union.

"One would hope that Tenet would understand that it is in their best interests to have their nurses represented by the California Nurses Assn."

Last spring, after threatening a strike, the union won salary increases averaging 19% to 25% over three years for nurses at the University of California's five medical centers.

Tenet spokesman Steve Campanini said the company had no comment on the petition.

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