Gag rule. Free speech for nurses?

    Labor Board Charges Cedars-Sinai with Violating RNs' Rights on Gag Clause
    The National Labor Relations Board has indicted Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for violating the rights of its registered nurses with a gag clause policy that threatens the RNs with termination or other discipline for violating an illegal "Confidentiality Policy" and advocating for patients, the California Nurses Association reported today.

    In a charge filed this week, the NLRB set an August 11 trial date in Los Angeles before an administrative law judge. Upholding unfair labor practice charges filed by CNA, the NLRB found that Cedars "has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees" in the exercise of their constitutional, federally protected labor rights.

    Earlier this year, Cedars began requiring RNs to sign a "confidentiality" agreement that includes a ban on discussing employee salary information. The hospital would not discuss what it calls its "business information," but which is widely interpreted to inhibit the ability of RNs to speak out to protect patient safety.

    The new policy was introduced at roughly the same time that the California Labor Commissioner began investigating widespread payroll fraud at Cedars, raising suspicion that the new policy amounts to a gag agreement designed to discourage employees from talking to CNA or state investigators about payroll issues. That investigation is ongoing.

    The NLRB charge notes that the hospital "threatened its employees" with discharge or other punishment "regardless of length of service" and "prior record of performance."

    CNA, which was elected to represent the hospital's 1,500 RNs last December, welcomed the NLRB ruling.

    "Once again, Cedars-Sinai's administration has chosen to continue its illegal and unethical assault on the rights of Cedars-Sinai RNs," said David Johnson, CNA's Southern California director. "It is chilling for patients and the community that Cedars-Sinai would attempt to silence the voice of the RNs by implementing an unlawful gag order."

    Since Cedars-Sinai RNs voted for CNA, the hospital has sought to delay representation through a series of legal challenges. In March a federal labor board judge threw out all objections filed by the hospital, but the Cedars-Sinai administration appealed the decision to Washington in hopes of additional long delays.

    "It's time for the administration at Cedars to recognize that nurses have chosen CNA representation, and Cedars' illegal tactics only increase the RNs' resolve to have a strong, collective voice for the good of their profession and their patients," Johnson said.
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    About pickledpepperRN

    Joined: Mar '99; Posts: 13,361; Likes: 1,375


  3. by   roxannekkb
    Isn't Cedars Sinai a magnet hospital? I thought that I read somewhere that it was--if so, this certainly doesn't sound very nurse friendly to me. I worked at Cedar's during the 80s for a short time, per diem. It was one of my worst nursing experiences, and I got out of there fast. Sounds like not much has changed.
  4. by   roxannekkb
    I just checked, Cedar's is a magnet hospital. How can a hospital which requires nurses to sign a gag order, and is fighting them tooth and nail about their right to organize, achieve magnet status? Something doesn't seem quite right here. This does not sound like a very nurse friendly hospital to me.

    How does a hospital lose its magnet status, or get it in the first place? According to the listing, Cedar's has had magnet status since 2000.
  5. by   jemb
    I have met many nurses who have worked at Cedars, and they all have commented on the incredible wealth that comes into that place. Can magnet status be "bought"?
  6. by   -jt
    <How can a hospital which requires nurses to sign a gag order, and is fighting them tooth and nail about their right to organize, achieve magnet status>

    It achieved Magnet status long before any of this stuff started. The application process takes about 2 years to complete & this hospital won their award in 2000. The staff RNs are a big part of the process in helping their facility implement the criteria required for a Magnet Award, making the place worthy of ANCC Magnet Designation and helping the ANCC to decide if it is or not. If there had been labor battles & RN dissatisfaction at the time, the facility would not have met the criteria for the award.

    Magnet Award Designation is all about respecting, valuing, recognizing the staff RNs and including them in the all aspects of decision making at the hospital. Once it is won, the hospitals have to continue to meet specific criteria to maintain it & are re-evaluated by the ANCC at regular intervals to make sure that they are.

    There is even a questionaire on the ANCC Magnet website for staff nurses to fill out about how their facility is treating them & if its worthy of the award. Theres also an email link for staff RNs to notify the Magnet program about any problems at their award designated facility. Cedars nurses should use it.

    Two other award winning facilities have already lost their awards for slacking off on their committment to staff RNs after they received the award.

    A facility can lose their Magnet designation for things like what is going on at Cedars now and would not be able to re-apply for 5 years. So yes, Cedars won the award for their committment to staff RNs in 2000. They started all this stuff we're reading about now in 2002-2003. Not good. So we shall soon see what happens to their Magnet Award Designation.

    For more details on how they are awarded the designation in the first place, do a search here on MAGNET to read some of the articles that have been posted, or just look go to the ANA website, click on the ANCC link, and then click on Magnet program.
    Last edit by -jt on Jul 6, '03
  7. by   pickledpepperRN
    Thank you JT. I was counting on a knowlegable nurse to educate us all.
    Bet there are Cedars nurses on Allnurses!
  8. by   roxannekkb
    Thanks Jt. After I posted, I sort of figured that the problems at Cedar's began after it had been awarded its magnet status, and are probably too recent for it to have been reevaluated. I do hope that Cedar's nurses have already notified the magnet program, and their status is being reevaluated.

    Why do hospitals do this? It is so sad that they make an effort to become more nurse friendly, gain magnet status, and then backtrack.
  9. by   -jt
    <why do hospitals do this?>

    Unfortunately, some view the award as just a way to draw in more PATIENTS - and to them the RNs are an after thought. Some facilities might just do whatever they have to do to get the award, and then forget their committment to the nurses because that wasnt their focus in seeking the award in the first place. Thats why the ANCC continually re-evaluates the award winners. Theres an article about that posted somewhere around here called "The Rules of Attraction".

    The Magnet Award program was created to foster a change in the hospital/administrative culture to one that respects, values, recognizes and includes staff RNs. There is a "best practices" for nursing excellence set of criteria to meet in order to apply for, be awarded, and maintain Magnet status. The award is prestigious in that it tells the community that your facility provides the best environment for nurses to work in, is committed to staff RN issues such as safe staffing, safe pt loads, and safe hours, and therefore the pts receive the best care at that facility.

    The hospitals advertize that they won the award, print it on their stationary and even lab jackets, and utilize it as a marketing tool to attract not only RNs, but doctors, and pts too. Unfortunately, some facilities forget that it was not meant to be a marketing tool for attracting doctors - it was meant to improve the working conditions of staff RNs, and improve RN job satisfaction. They cant just talk the talk & say they value & respect nurses during the application process. They have to change their culture so that they really believe it & practice it & continue to walk the walk after they win the award.

    I think the ANCC would be interested to hear from Cedars nurses.
    Last edit by -jt on Jul 6, '03
  10. by   NRSKarenRN
    The Magnet Program wants to hear from you! Please take a moment to complete our online survey of staff nurses ...

    Your perspectives are important to the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Magnet Recognition Program. In an effort to continually improve the program, we would like to obtain your responses to this questionnaire...

    Although you are not required to identify the facility in which you work, doing so will provide us with valuable information that can be incorporated into our evaluations of current and prospective Magnet facilities. If you do choose to indicate the facility where you work, rest assured that your comments are submitted completely anonymously, and we have no way of identifying individual respondents.

    Thank you for your participation.

    Complete info re Magnet Program:
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Jul 5, '03
  11. by   SmilingBluEyes
  12. by   ainz
    Thanks -jt and spacenurse for your info. Seeing this kind of stuff going on all over the place in our hospitals is embarrassing to me as an administrative-type and just plain makes me mad as a person and RN.

    This example validates that administration is about 2 things primarily--1) building volume of business (more admissions etc) and revenue, and 2) cutting or at least containing costs.

    I agree-jt, evidently this award was used as a way to market the hospital and draw more patients. I see this kind of thing going on all of the time, it is a common and manipulative tactic. It is good to get an award but the motive is all wrong here. Sounds like the RNs were simply "used" to help pull this thing off for the hospital, they obviously didn't really care about improving the RN working conditons at all.

    What a nasty business all of this is!! When will healthcare executives get the picture? Screw the employees = trouble.

    And where is the VP of nursing, or DON, or CNO, whatever title they go by in all of this??? They usually clam up and don't say a word. Our company invited DONs to begin to be part of the corporate team that sits in rooms to dream up strategies like this one and other ways to build business, increase revenue, and cut costs (nasty little meetings!!). The DONs I have seen come in thinking "clinically" and prepared to talk about nursing issues--Oh my God!!--they get literally blown out of the water and made to feel like a complete idiot quickly. After that, they just sit there and don't say anything, ever again. It is sad.