Social Justice

Guest Blog: Union Fights Decertification Effort Aided by National Anti-Labor Group

Universal Health Services (UHS) bills itself as one of the “largest and most respected hospital management companies in the nation,” operating 240 acute care hospitals and behavioral health facilities worldwide.

Now, UHS, which owns six acute care hospitals in Southern Nevada, is benefiting from the efforts of a national anti-union group working to eliminate SEIU Nevada as the bargaining representative for hundreds of employees at Valley and Desert Springs, UHS’ only unionized acute care hospitals.

The company’s local subsidiary, Valley Health System, also operates Centennial Hills, Spring Valley, Summerlin Hospital and Henderson Hospital.  Valley Health System is headed by a Board of Governors, chaired by Howard Hughes Corporation executive Tom Warden.  Members include longtime political operative Sig Rogich, President and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and the President Emeritus of the Urban Chamber of Commerce, Hannah Brown.

This week the National Labor Relations Board filed complaints against Desert Springs and Valley Hospitals for removing union communications from hospital billboards.

SEIU Nevada also alleges in complaints to the NLRB that Valley Hospital has taken actions designed to distance nurses from their union and derail contract bargaining.

Among the allegations:

-Valley and Desert Springs management unilaterally stopped collecting dues from employee checks in September

-Hospital management began requiring approval of postings on union billboards

-Management changed the terms of union access to the hospital

-Hospital administrators conveyed the futility of collective bargaining by informing employees they intended to bargain to impasse so they could unilaterally implement terms and conditions of employment and implied that support for the union is an impediment to career advancement.

-Valley Hospital withdrew recognition from SEIU Nevada without holding an election or obtaining evidence that an uncoerced majority of nurses no longer want the union to represent them.

UHS is enduring increased patient and shareholder scrutiny over a Department of Justice criminal investigation and alleged “profits over patients” scandals reported by Buzzfeed.

UHS has a history of attempted union-busting.  In 2016 nurses at the Corona Regional Medical Center filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging the hospital had employees under surveillance and used threats and backroom dealings to disrupt contract talks.

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