The ruling that your hospital is banking on was the Supreme Court ruling that a certain group of nurses in a particular LTC facility in Kentucky were considered supervisors based on the work that they did at that facility & thus could not be unionized with the rest of the staff.
This ruling does not apply to all nurses or any nurses anyplace else. It does not say that all nurses are supervisors - it says that those nurses at that facility were. However, this opens the door a crack and paves the way for other employers to try to get the same kind of block put on their own nurses. But they each have to prove it first....
According to the Supreme Court, any other facility that attempts to cash in on this ruling & tries to exclude its nurses from a union will have the burden of proving that their own nurses are in fact supervisors too. In other words, every facility will have to make its own case, every case will be different, and every case may have different decisions.
The facilities cannot rely on the ruling that occurred in Kentucky automatically being applied to them too, but this dumb decision sure gives them the impetus to try.......
<<ANA: "U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
Unfair to Nurses and Harmful to Patients"
May 30, 2001 - Washington, DC .
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued today that denies some registered nurses basic workplace protections under federal labor law is unfair to nurses and to patients, according to the American Nurses Association (ANA) and United American Nurses (UAN), labor arm of the ANA.
A unanimous court upheld the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) determination that an employer has the burden to prove that registered nurses are supervisors and therefore excluded from the benefits of collective bargaining.
However, the court split five to four in upholding a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that nurses on staff at a Kentucky facility are "supervisors" and therefore ineligible to join a union and participate in collective bargaining activities.
ANA strongly disagrees with the way the five justices have interpreted the definition of what constitutes a supervisor under the NLRA, as does the United American Nurses.
The decision will have a chilling effect on the ability of nurses to form unions and gain valuable workplace protections under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), because employers may now try to claim that many more registered nurses are supervisors, because they direct the work of others, such as nurse's aides and licensed practical nurses.
"With this decision, the Supreme Court just made it easier for employers to cut registered nurses out of the bargaining process," said UAN Chair Cheryl Johnson, RN. "The justices have confused what nurses do as a routine part of their job with who the employer claims they are in the organizational hierarchy. We will continue to assert that the nature of nursing practice falls within the scope of collective bargaining."
ANA will continue to support registered nurses' right to organize, despite this U.S. Supreme Court decision that affects the definition of what constitutes a "supervisor" under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) agrees with ANA's position that nurses should not be classified as "supervisors" simply because, in the process of carrying out their jobs, they exercise professional judgment in directing the work of others. Registered nurses have long delegated certain tasks -- such as bathing patients -- to nurses's aides and other employees, under state laws and regulations that govern nursing practice, as well as by health care institutions' own policies.
"By limiting the number of nurses who may be a part of a collective bargaining unit, this Supreme Court decision amounts to a partial gag order on nurses who want to protect patients from harmful management practices that routinely lead registered nurses to organize," said ANA President Mary Foley, MS, RN. "Nurses are patients' best advocates. Without guaranteed workplace protections, nurses who continue to speak out on patient safety issues run the risk of losing their livelihoods."
In November 2000, ANA filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the NLRB in the case, "National Labor Relations Board v. Kentucky River Community Care Inc." Kentucky River Community Care Inc., based in Hazard, KY, operates the Caney Creek Rehabilitation Center, a facility for mentally ill persons.
In 1997, Caney Creek employees voted to join the Kentucky State District Council of the Carpenters Union, but the rehabilitation center defied an NLRB order to bargain with them, claiming they were supervisors and thus ineligible for union coverage. The rehabilitation center appealed the Board's ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and won. But the NLRB asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, oral arguments were heard on Feb. 21, 2001 and today the Court ruled that this group of nurses are supervisors.
However, according to ANA General Counsel Alice Bodley, the UAN can still establish that the type of judgment exercised by nurses is not supervisory under the NLRA. In addition, the Supreme Court noted that it may be possible to distinguish "employees who direct the manner of others' performance of discrete tasks from employees who direct other employees." This means the ruling is not a blanket determination and it does not conclude that all nurses, from this point on, are supervisors. >>>
The American Nurse July/August 2001