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Union Seeks to Enroll Nurses at 5 Tenet Sites

Filing by the California Nurses Assn. would seek to represent 2,300 and intensify a battle with two rival labor organizations.

May 29, 2003|Ronald D. White | Times Staff Writer

The California Nurses Assn. is expected today to file a petition with the federal labor board that seeks to unionize registered nurses at five more hospitals owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp., the state's largest hospital operator.

The move would bring to 13 the number of Tenet hospitals the nurses group is formally seeking to unionize, and it would intensify a battle CNA is waging against two rival unions -- the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

This month Tenet, which operates 40 hospitals in the state, made a deal with the SEIU and AFSCME that essentially opened the doors to those unions to organize at Tenet hospitals and would guarantee certain wage increases for those who join the unions.

The CNA is challenging the legality of that agreement with the National Labor Relations Board and is trying to be first to the punch in holding union votes at some Tenet hospitals. Its petition to be filed today will seek to represent 2,300 registered nurses at five Tenet hospitals: Doctors Medical Center of Modesto, Alvarado Hospital Medical Center in San Diego, Midway Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles, Western Medical Center-Santa Ana and Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton.

"It's a dramatic signal that Tenet registered nurses want representation by the nurses association," David M. Johnson, the CNA's Southern California director, said Wednesday. The nurses group currently represents four Tenet hospitals.

The SEIU and AFSCME combined have labor pacts at eight Tenet hospitals and are pressing ahead with their campaigns to organize more facilities. On Wednesday, SEIU spokeswoman Lisa Hubbard said the union had won elections at five Tenet hospitals this month.

Tenet spokesman Steve Campanini said gathering signatures alone does not mean that the nurses association will win the right to represent the nurses.

The Santa Barbara-based hospital chain, which is trying to recover from numerous legal battles and government probes, this month sought to soften its tough labor climate by forging a pact with the SEIU and AFSCME that would guarantee unionized workers pay raises of 8% in the first year and 7% in each of the next three years.

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