Found this today at Healthleaders.com:
Florida hospital's nurses petition to leave union
A nurse at HCA-owned Lawnwood Regional Medical Center says she has enough signatures on a petition to end a three-year union representation by the Teamsters. The Teamsters have failed to negotiate a contract between the nurses and the hospital during the affiliation.
Fort Pierce Tribune, April 9, 2002
By Maggie Large staff writer
April 9, 2002
FORT PIERCE -- A Lawnwood Regional Medical Center nurse claims there is a majority of nurses who want to end a three-year run with the Teamsters, which has never produced a contract. However, pending labor board issues may prevent the nurses from doing so any time soon.
Brenda Gibbons, a registered nurse who's spent 23 years at Lawnwood Regional Medical center, said Monday that she has gathered enough signatures for the nurses' bargaining unit to be released from their agreement with the Teamsters Local Union No. 769.
Teamsters' business representative Mike Scott wrote in an August 2001 letter that if a majority of the 350 Lawnwood nurses agreed to end the relationship with the union, then he would file paperwork to do so.
"I'm not against unions," Gibbons said. "I just feel that we could be better represented by a group familiar with the needs of health care workers."
"Mike Scott has not been able to produce [a contract]."
The Teamsters have failed to negotiate a contract between the nurses and hospital management, a sticking point for many of the dissenting nurses, Gibbons said.
Gibbons hopes to avoid a vote on the issue of decertification, which has proved divisive at neighboring Indian River Memorial Hospital in Vero Beach. IRMH nurses narrowly voted against decertifying the same branch of the Teamsters union in a March 21 election.
Gibbons started a movement in August 2001 to decertify the union. However, the Teamsters filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in August, which has held up any further action by the nurses.
The union charged that a nursing recruiter intimidated nurses into signing the petition to stop the union. Lawnwood hospital officials said that since the recruiter was a registered nurse who was not a supervisor, the charges were baseless. While the labor board has cleared both the nurse and hospital of wrongdoing, the union has filed an appeal that is still pending.
NLRB spokesman Steve Jacobi, who works in the agency's Tampa office, said that the appeal could hold up a move to sever the union.
"They're called blocking charges because they hold up the process," Jacobi said.
Jacobi did not know the status of the appeal against Lawnwood, saying that the resulting investigation could take months.
Factors behind the initial drive for unionizing in 1999 have changed due to efforts from the hospital's administration, not the work of the union, Gibbons said. From addressing nursing shortages through scholarships and using agency nurses, to improving relations between nurses and physicians, Gibbons said that parent company HCA has come a long way in three years.
"Besides, the union can't do anything toward improving staffing," Gibbons said.
Lawnwood spokeswoman Beth Tuttle said that the hospital's management would support the nurses, whatever decision they make toward union representation. Tuttle said the hospital has had minimal contact with the union since August 2001.
"We expect [Scott] to be a man of his word and to honor the agreement he made to our nurses [to declaim interest]," Tuttle said.
Scott could not be reached for comment late Monday.