Nurses File Federal Charges to Sanction Sutter Corporation for Illegal Lockout to Harm RN Rights

CALIFORNIA–(ENEWSPF)–October 5, 2011.  The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United filed formal federal charges late Tuesday that Sutter corporation through its hospital affiliates conducted an illegal lockout following a one-day strike last month that violated the legal rights of Sutter RNs.

In a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board, CNA details how Sutter broke federal labor law through employer fraud to justify its unwarranted and illegal lockout and illegal retaliation against the nurses for exercise of their lawful rights to strike.

“Sutter’s lockout was not only unwarranted, unnecessary, and unconscionable, it was also unlawful,” said CNA/NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.

“Sutter forced the RNs to strike with up to 200 outrageous contract demands that would undermine the ability of RNs to speak out and act on behalf of safe patient care and erode their living conditions and contract standards,” DeMoro said.

“Rather than negotiate a fair agreement with their RNs,” DeMoro said, “Sutter chose instead to retaliate with an illegal lockout, and then mislead the public with fraudulent claims to try to justify it. This lockout will not stand.”

Potential remedies if the charge is upheld range from the NLRB seeking a court-ordered injunction to bar future lockouts to restitution for the RNs in back pay and restoration of lost benefits and other losses incurred from the lockout.

Specifically, the RNs say Sutter’s allegation that the lockout was “compelled by legitimate and substantial business reasons” based on a “minimum required replacement period” for traveler RNs constitutes employer fraud. The nurses note that:

  • Sutter was not forced by anyone to sign long term lockout contracts, but did so through voluntary negotiations with replacement agencies.
  • Kaiser Permanente’s decision not to lock out a larger number of nurses who also struck for one day on September 22 illustrates the fraudulent nature of Sutter’s claim.
  • Sutter had the guarantee by the nurses of an “unconditional” intent to return to work at the conclusion of the one-day strike, an offer that Sutter well knew was legitimate based on past practice.
  • Sutter demanded that its regular RNs report to work on the day of the strike – even those not scheduled to work – for the sole purpose of including them in the retaliatory lockout.
  • Sutter unlawfully even denied reinstatement to RNs who were replaced by managers and supervisors, not contracted replacement staff, during the lockout.