The NLRB blew-it!

Not so long ago the NLRB ruled that Nurses Allysha Shin (Almada) and Vicki Lin were wrongly terminated and determined in their decision that Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH) was required to rehire and repay back wages. In the same decision the NLRB also allowed HMH to in essence “black ball” the same two nurses from ever working at any HMH facility.

The issue I had with the NLRB’s decision was that the NLRB appeared to be making a decision on whether or not HMH had the right to terminate a registered nurse for violating the nurse practice act and/hospital policy and protocols. It was the failure of the HMH RN’s to follow both our state’s nurse practice act and hospital policy and protocols that were the grounds that HMH argued that they fired the two RNs and not because of these two RN’s involvement in unionizing activities (The CNA was trying to unionize HMH; a fight that the CNA lost with 539 nurses voting no compared to 445 nurses voting yes with pretty much every single eligible nurse casting a ballot). The NLRB, which we all know are experts on how nurses should perform their duties, decided in favor of the two HMH RNs.

However, on March 2018 our California Board of Registered Nursing placed a Public Reproval on both Nurse Shin (Almada) and Lin’s licenses, which will remain in affect for three years. In both nurses’ document they agree as follows: “Respondent admits the truth of each and every charge and allegation in Accusation Respondent agrees that her Registered Nurse License is subject to discipline and she agrees to be bound by the Disciplinary Order below… ” (Allysha Almada-Final Vicki Lin – Final).

What I concluded from the outcome is simple: the NLRB had no place in deciding the original case since it applied to nursing practice. The NLRB has no expertise in judging whether a nurse has acted within his/her scope of practice or followed hospital policy and protocols.   Perhaps in the future when confronted with such an issue where a nurse is terminated due to an alleged failure to conduct themselves within their scope of practice and said nurse has been reported to their licensing board for such behavior the NLRB should wait for said licensing board to conclude their investigation. If the licensing board finds that the nurse acted within their scope of practice and didn’t violate hospital policy or protocols – then the NLRB can step in and render their decision.

In the future the NLRB should stick to adjudicating labor issues and stay out of the business of licensing boards, such as the Board of Registered Nursing, whose mission is to decide whether or not a nurse has failed to adhere to his/her nurse practice act.

You may recall that in May I reported that two former Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH) RNs were being investigated by our state Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). The two nurses in question are: Allysha Rae (Almada) Shin and Vicki Lin. They were terminated by HMH for violating hospital policies, they and the California Nurses Association (CNA) argued that they were fired for their unionizing activity at the hospital. Long story short the nurses with the help of the CNA filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB concluded that HMH inappropriately terminated the RNs and ruled that they were owed back pay and so forth, but HMH got the NLRB to agree that neither (Almada) Shin or Lin were eligible to work at HMH in the future.

Meanwhile the BRN began to investigate (Almada) Shin and Lin, I learned this from nurses that had been interviewed by BRN investigators regarding the incident. It would appear that the BRN investigator found the complaint to be substantiated and thus an “accusation” has been formally submitted. The accusations can be found by searching the license of both Allysha Almada and Vicki Lin.

Nurse (Almada) Shin is being cited for two causes for discipline from the BRN. They are:

  • FIRST CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE – (Unprofessional Conduct- Incompetence)

Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under section 2761, subdivision (a)(1), as defined in California Code of Regulations, title 16, sections 1443 and 1443.5(2), on the grounds of incompetence in that Respondent breached the Confidentiality Agreement, aided and abetted in the falsification of a medical record, and failed to comply with the double-check process for administering insulin. Complainant refers to and incorporates all the facts and allegations contained in Paragraphs 11 through 20, as though set forth fully.

  • SECOND CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE – (Unprofessional Conduct- Violation of Nursing Practice Act)

Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under· section 2761, subdivisions (a) and (d), as defined in California Code of Regulations, title 16, sections 1443 and 1443.5(2), for general unprofessional conduct and/or violating or attempting to violate, any provision or term of the Nursing Practice Act. Complainant refers to and incorporates all the facts and allegations contained in Paragraphs 11 through 20, as though set forth fully.

Nurse Vicki Lin is being cited for two causes for discipline from the BRN. They are:

  • FIRST CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE – (Unprofessional Conduct- Incompetence)

Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under section 2761, subdivision (a)(l), as defined in California Code of Regulations, title 16, sections 1443 and 1443.5(2), on the grounds of incompetence in that Respondent breached the Confidentiality Agreement, violated hospital policy by falsifying medical documentation and failing to comply with the double-check process for administering insulin. Complainant refers to and incorporates all the facts and allegations contained in Paragraphs 10 through 17, as though set forth fully.

  • SECOND CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE – (Unprofessional Conduct- Violations of Nursing Practice Act)

Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under section 2761, subdivisions (a) and (d), as defined in California Code of Regulations, title 16, sections 1443 and 1443.5(2), for general unprofessional conduct and/or violating or attempting to violate, any provision or term of the Nursing Practice Act. Complainant refers to and incorporates all the facts and allegations contained in Paragraphs 10 through 17, as though set forth fully.

There may be some who think, and the NLRB is one, that what (Almada) Shin and Lin did isn’t worthy of an investigation by the BRN. However we are talking about the standard of care as it applies to “double-checking specific medication” and insulin is one of these. I’ve worked NICU/PICU almost my entire career, and I can never recall a time when any nurse I worked with was “too busy” to come and go through this very basic nursing practice – perhaps that’s because I prefer not to place my patients at risk because of a calculation error in how much insulin needs to be titrated.

I also found their comments as it relates to how they handle their passwords rather cavalier, especially in today’s environment where hospitals are being locked out of their systems due to ransomware, the over 1 million Equifax customers who’s personal information that may be at risk due to a security breech and so forth. So not leaving your passwords written down and left out willy-nilly where anyone can pick it up is actually quite significant and important to maintaining security, confidentiality, and patient privacy.

What I find interesting is the following scenario, what happens if the BRN prevails and one or both (Almada) Shin or Lin is found “guilty” as per the accusations. Does this then vindicate the HMH management for their original decision to terminate these two nurses? Does this mean that perhaps the NLRB made a rush to judgment about the facts of the case? Perhaps in the future the NLRB shouldn’t attempt to dictate nursing practice and leave it to the BRN, whose mission is to do just that!

For the past several years the California Nurses Association (CNA) have launched what can only be described as a smear campaign against Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH), its management, and ironically against many of the very nurses they purported they wanted to protect. The CNA held rallies and protests outside the hospital and of course many politicians, such as Congresswoman Chu and numerous members of the Pasadena City Council calling for HMH to “just let the nurses vote”.

So when time came for the HMH RNs to vote on the matter the RNs turnout in unprecedented numbers something that rarely happens. The outcome, which was no surprise to this RN, was that the CNA lost. The unofficial tally of the NLRB-led and supervised April 15th – 16th election was as follows – 539 No to 445 Yes with 176 challenged votes. Did the CNA honor the will of the HMH RNs, of course not? Instead they cried foul, filed complaints and demanded an opportunity to have a brand new election. The NLRB, which is not known for being all that fair and heavily favoring “unions” no matter how egregious their actions are – don’t believe me just ask the RNs from Cedar-Sinai that had to endure threats of violence against their children and pets if they opposed the CNA coming into Cedars. Threats which at first the local NLRB folks stated were no big deal, but at least the DC office disagreed and made the final decision that CNA employees have indeed made threats in order to chill the NO-vote.

The NLRB decided that HMH had made errors and that the CNA deserved another bite at the apple, and so another vote was scheduled. As the new date approached the CNA filed additional complaints further delaying the vote. Then about two months ago an interesting rumor began to spread through many of the HMH nursing units. The rumor was that the CNA had abandoned their efforts to unionize the HMH RNs, but no official announcement was made until April 26th when I received word from several of my sources that the CNA had withdrawn their petition – effectively ending the fight to unionize the HMH RNs.

So after all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth and stories from the so-called down-trodden RNs that the CNA were going to save from the “evil” machinations of the hospital administration – the CNA quietly pulled up stakes and left.

Why? You may ask did the CNA give up the battle for the hearts and souls and most importantly the dues of the HMH RNs because apparently in the end they did their math and figured that they would lose this election as well. And of course they could risk a news story about them losing an election, they only want news stories about their triumphs.   So kudos to the IStandWithHuntington nurses and their supporters for being the voice of the opposition and it was due in large part to this opposition that HMH RNs got the opportunity to stand up to the CNA.

I do wonder where are all those community leaders, religious leaders and politicians, like Chu, Tornek, Gordo and others now? They rallied with the CNA endorsing the CNA line but failed to rally to show their support when the HMH RNs won the day. The silence is deafening!

Congratulations HMH RNs for making your choice known, now its time to rebuild many of the bridges and bonds with your co-workers that the CNA had no trouble breaking. It’s time to reunite once again for the good of your nursing team, the hospital, the community and most importantly for the very patients you have committed to serve.

Here we go again, at the begin of June, just 4 days shy of the scheduled NLRB hearing regarding Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH) and the California Nurses Association (CNA); the news broke that HMH and the CNA had come to an agreement. The papers spun it as if it was a victory for the CNA and the two nurses that had been fired, over the “evil” HMH and its management.  HMH reportedly terminated Alysha Almada and Vicki Lin for violating hospital policy, however Almada, Lin, their supporters and the CNA argued that they had instead been fired for their activity in trying to unionize the HMH registered nurses. An attempt that failed with 539 HMH nurses voting NO to 445 HMH nurses voting YES (with 171 additional votes being challenged by one side or the other).

Our local media herald the “rehiring” of Almada and Lin, even going so far as quoting Almada that she had “decided to decline returning to work at HMH because for the past six months I’ve been working at Keck USC, a hospital where RNs enjoy a CNA contract”. However I received an email (which you can find attached at the end of this post) that tells a slightly different tale. Yes, Almada and Lin’s termination was rescinded, but this termination was replaced with voluntary resignations. However what struck me as odd was that part of the agreement assured that neither Almada nor Lin would never be permitted to obtain employment or have any other business relationship with HMH; a caveat that I found very interesting.

Still unresolved through all this is what is happening with the complaint (at least one that I know for a fact was filed, and another that has been filed which I cannot confirm) about Almada and Lin’s action that were filed with the California Board of Nursing (BRN). I’m not sure if the BRN is moving forward with the complaint, but if they do and if the BRN does decide that their action was indeed a violation of our nurse practice act then an accusation will in all likelihood follow. I wonder if that indeed happens will our media report on this or just ignore it? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, various newpapers, including the Pasadena Star News, Pasadena Weekly and Pasadena Independent spun the agreement as some sort of victory for the HMH nurses, but never once interviewing a single one of the 539 nurses who voted no to CNA representation. Not a single reporter asked them what they thought about their votes being thrown out at the request of, ironically enough, the very nurses union that Almada and Lin argued were all about giving nurses a voice. I guess the only nurses deserving a voice in their opinion are those that favor a nurses’ union and the rest be damned.

As promised below is a copy of the email that nurses forwarded to me, and though I have confirmed that it wasn’t a confidential internal memo, I’ve redacted private and contact information to protect my sources.

eMail HMH v CNA Settlement

Our local paper recently published an article about two Huntington Memorial Hospitals with the claim made by the nurses that they were fired due to their union activity.  However there’s more to the story and below you’ll find both the link to the above mentioned article and my letter to the editor — that the Star News chose not to publish.  I think they were afraid to encourage their readers to think beyond the pablum the union was spoon feeding to both the paper and its readers.

Huntington Memorial terminated 2 nurses; both claim retaliation for efforts to unionize

Dear Editor:

Nurses Almada and Lin with the help of the California Nurses Association (CNA) held a rally to demand that Huntington reinstates the two nurses. The claim is that these two nurses were unfairly terminated due to their support of the recent failed unionization effort at Huntington Memorial. If what they claim is factual, then shame on Huntington Memorial.

However, as a nurse with more than 40 years of experience at all levels of the nursing ladder I’m somewhat hesitant to take their tale at blind faith. Why? Because the hospital is bound by confidentiality in all personnel matters and Almada, Lin, and the CNA know that and are counting on Huntington to adhere to this code. Meanwhile, they can sling all the mud that they want, which they’ve been doing over a year now with support from much of the local media and many local officials who enjoy union support.

I’d prefer to wait and see, because something tells me that there’s more to the tale of the firing of these two nurses than just their involvement in the failed unionization attempt. My nursing instinct tells me that these two nurses may have failed to adhere to our nurse practice act and if this were the case then firing them would’ve been the appropriate action. I also think it is interesting that they’ve made a big deal about going to the NLRB, but said nothing about filing a complaint with our state’s labor board. Not to mention it’d be an act of ultimate stupidity on the part of Huntington to fire any nurse at this time except for cause.

Imagine finding flyers posted all over a hospital sounding the “alert that a professional union buster was on site”, and that flyer used to identify a nearly 70 year old great grandmother who has to use an electric scooter to get around. What power this person must have to send the California Nurses Association (C.N.A.) in paroxysm’s of fear and panic and to engage in their usually tactics of lies and misinformation. I was met with just such exhibitions fear-mongering and hysteria by C.N.A. recruiters, representatives and supporters when I made a recent visit at the invitation of a fellow nurse from Cy-Fair Hospital in Houston.

Their flyer identified me as a professional union buster, which I guess is a recognition of how much they fear my presence; but truth be told I’m not a professional union buster, and in particular I’m not a nursing union buster. The C.N.A. and many other pro-union people love to use the word union-buster since it tends to invoke images of a Simon LeGreed character replete with requisite black hat and clock and evil laugh.

I have nothing against unions for the blue-collar worker, but I’m far from convinced that professionals such as registered nurses need unions to represent them.   So when nurses contact me for my opinion and advise about how to speak for themselves I am always happy to help my fellow RN in advocating for our profession and for themselves. I’m happy to help in the effort of showing nurses they can and do have a strong voice as both an individuals and as a group without paying a nursing union dues of upwards to $80.00 a month for the favor.

In the case of two recent nursing union attempts, one nursing staffs attempt to stay free from the C.N.A. and one nursing staff attempt to decertify from the C.N.A. As fate would have it, I was in a position where I could help both in spirit and in person so I did. At the first hospital my fellow nurse and I found C.N.A. representatives playing shenanigans with hospital elevators so that the floor where a “No to the C.N.A.” nurse had been given a meeting room was locked out. This malfunction only affected the one floor that we had to reach on both days, what a coincidence. You may wonder why I think C.N.A. representatives capable of such underhanded techniques. Simple, I still haven’t forgotten a C.N.A. strike in the San Fernando Valley where pro-C.N.A. nurse locked out much need medical equipment, hiding/destroying manuals, etc., so that the relief nurses were hard pressed to provided nursing care to patients many of whom were in intensive care; and the C.N.A. strike was suppose to be all about their concern for patient safety — go figure! And at the second hospital I got treated to the experience of being stalked by not one, not two, but upwards to three C.NA. representatives at a time. The situation became of such concern that hospital HR and security had to become involved; but I guess I should feel honored that the C.N.A. felt the need to have so many people watching my every move.

Whether or not nurses chose a union to represent them or not should be up to the nurses themselves but this seems to rarely be the case these days. As in the case of the Tenet Healthcare/C.N.A. neutrality agreement Houston nurses that had opposing views to the C.N.A. material, propaganda or message had no one to turn to; at least that’s what the C.N.A. representatives thought, except they overlooked a grassroots network of informed RNs that were available for these nurses to reach out to; which they did and we responded. One would think that the C.N.A. representatives would be excited to learn that nurses were empowering one another, oh that’s right it only counts if the nursing unions are doing the empowering.   So sorry, we didn’t get that memo. One would also think that the C.N.A. would invite and encourage an open and lively discussion about the benefits of a nursing union, but they couldn’t be bothered to even accept the invitation extended by one group of nurses to present their viewpoint in an open debate. Instead they skulked about passing out flyers full of misstatements and lies since it so much easier to insult the intelligence of nurses rather than respect them.

In the case of the flyer (CYFair_NNOC_Alert1) they suggested that the nurses ask me a set of questions, and I responded with an open letter (OpenLetter1). One pro-C.N.A. nurse chose to mark up my open letter with graffiti instead of addressing me nurse to nurse. But then again it’s become common practice for pro-nursing union nurses to engage in such childish behavior. It’s a sad day when our honorable profession is marred by such immature behavior. However, I see these as indicators of how much the organizational structure of the C.N.A. fears nurses who chose to take back or carry on with their own voice. In the past several years their membership has been declining (their last official report in 2008 has their membership at just over 72,000 almost a full 8,000 or 13,000 drop depending on which C.N.A. official report you read). I think it’s this drop that has them scrambling for new members in the other 49 states.

But in some parts of our country nurses don’t want anything to do with them, and even when Tenet handed the C.N.A. the proverbial keys to the kingdom providing C.N.A. organizers unfettered and unprecedented access to RNs on the floor, scheduling information and even home addresses and telephone numbers; the C.N.A. has found resistance to their siren song. They couldn’t even gather enough cards at Park Plaza and Northwest Hospitals in Houston to even call an election and they slunk out of Houston so quietly that few even knew they had abandoned their organizational efforts. They accused one, that’s right ONE, nurse of trying to take away the union at Cy-Fair Hospital. What power this one nurse must have, I guess the well over 30% of eligible nurses that signed decertification cards meant nothing, it was all that one nurse’s fault. And this morning we learned that Hahnemann Hospital (another victim of the nefarious Tenet/C.N.A. neutrality agreement) had rejected the union. The C.N.A. had such access to the RNs at Hahnemann that nurses that opposed the C.N.A. had to get the NLRB to intervene just so they could get a meeting room in the bowels of the hospital and finally a table in the cafeteria (shortly before election day) and the union spokespeople whined that this was unfair.

So if our network of nurses, and me, in particular can help our fellow nurses when confronted with such behavior and that makes us professional nursing union busters in the eyes of the union then I guess that’s a cross we’ll just have to bear. I see it as the desperate actions of an organization that knows that people have begun to look behind the curtain that is the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee and they don’t like what they see. The more they howl about RNs empowering each other the more I know that I’m their bête noire and that’s a role I think I shall relish.

The nurse’s of Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia just got the news — they won in their election fight against the California Nurses Association (C.N.A.)! The vote count was 309 RNs against to 267 RNs in favor of unionization.

I wonder how the C.N.A. and their supporters will spin this election loss. No doubt they’ll issue a press release touting the narrow loss and I’m sure the press will parrot this statement. Just like when the C.N.A. won the vote at Cy-Fair in Houston by a margin of 8 (now that was a slim victory), but the C.N.A. touted the vote as though it was a resounding victory for nurses across Texas. So if we use their own reasoning then we can only conclude that if an 8-vote margin is a resounding win; then a 42-vote margin is one major whooping on behalf of the nurses in their rejection of the C.N.A. Maybe the Pennsylvania nurses might’ve been more receptive to the idea a nursing union if it had been a local nursing union that was courting their vote and not the carpet bagging C.N.A. and their well-known bullying tactics that was courting them?

To put things into perspective for folks, the nurses that weren’t keen on a nursing union had a very hard row to hoe. Like in Houston they found that their hospital and nursing management were in essence prohibited from offering them assistance thanks to a so-called neutrality agreement (for more one this agreement see “Like Thieves in the Night”) that had been signed between Tenet and the C.N.A. The agreement gave all the cards to the C.N.A. and their representatives to spread their message, but withheld equal support for the nurses that wanted to get their counter-message out. Things were so blatantly unfair that the NLRB actually intervened on behalf of the No to the C.N.A. nurses and granted these nurses a couple concessions: such as a meeting room that was somewhere in the “bowels” of the hospital so that only the most stalwart of nurses could find the meeting room and of course finally a table in the cafeteria. Throughout the process nurses, such as Nurse Hummel were stalked, photographed, and pilloried by the C.N.A. representatives. The C.N.A. pulled out all the stops even going so far as to paying for a pro-C.N.A. nurse from Cy-Fair hospital to come out and make the rounds through the hospital and producing a flyer depicting Hahnemann nurses attending a big pro-union rally in DC organized by the C.N.A. The only problem with the flyer was that the nurses pictured from Hahnemann Hospital never attended that event and had been plucked out of another photograph and pasted into this C.N.A. propaganda material. Nurse Hummel even made sure to invite the C.N.A. to attend a debate so that interested nurses could have an open discussion, but the C.N.A. was a no-show, which seems to be par for the course when it comes to dealing with the C.N.A.

I think that the C.N.A. finally met their match when RNs from several other states came out to offer their support, expertise and knowledge with those who simply wanted to be able to have their side of the story heard. I know that several nurses came out on their own dime and time; and as one of those nurses, I found the time I spent at Hahnemann enlightening and enjoyable. I was both pleased and honored to have met with not only Nurse Hummel (after so many telephone conversations) and the countless other RNs that came to our table or met us in the hallways and meeting rooms to share their story and to give me an opportunity to answer their questions.

So hats off to all the nurses (both anti & pro nursing union) of Hahnemann who turned out to vote (from what I’ve been told about 592 eligible nurses voted) that means nearly 60% of the eligible nurses voted in this election. I can only hope that the media fairly reports the outcome of the election and assuming that they even chose to report the vote outcome. For more information I invite you to visit the Hahnemann nurses website at:

Like thieves in the night . . .

They came like thieves in the night, their goal simple: to “steal” their way into one or more of the Tenet-run Houston hospitals. Their arrival wasn’t completely unexpected, it’s just that the Registered Nurses at CyFair, Northwest and Park Plaza, weren’t the ones that had invited them. Instead, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (C.N.A./N.N.O.C.) came under a rather notorious arragement known as a “neutrality agreement” and as the only union option. There would be those that might argue that a neutrality agreement isn’t such a bad thing, and it wouldn’t be if such an agreement were actually neutral. Most reasonable people would understand the term “neutral” to mean having no personal preference/bias or not supporting or favoring either side in a war, dispute, or contest; but the agreement that the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. came in under, with the consent of Tenet management was far from neutral.

When I first learned of the neutrality agreement I asked for a copy and it wasn’t long before a copy appeared in my mail, and after reading the lengthy document it was clear that Tenet and the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. had entered into an agreement that benefited not the nurses but the union leadership of C.N.A./N.N.O.C. One could easily blame the leadership of C.N.A./N.N.O.C. for crafting such a one-sided contract, but the fault for agreeing to the overly restrictive terms lay firmly in the lap of Tenet management. As any good contract negotiator will tell you, its not uncommon for one party or the other to present a tough or one-sided agreement, they do this to see what kind of or how much push back they will get from the other party; and it’s assumed that the other party will present a counter offer – hence the term contract negotiation. But if Tenet offered any counter offer to the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. agreement then I can only conclude it was a half hearted one, because the contract heavily favored C.N.A./N.N.O.C., to the point of disadvantaging Tenet’s very own nurses themselves.

For example the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. representatives were given access to the employee list, including personal contact information, of all the RNs at the three hospitals (CyFair, Northwest, and Park Plaza). Keep in mind that prior to this all three hospitals were non-union shops, thus the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. were not yet recognized as a bargaining unit for any of the RNs at these hospitals; so these strangers were given free access to this personal information and RNs discovered this only after they started receiving calls, visits and mail from C.N.A./N.N.O.C. Tenet also sold the rights of the RNs to any non-approved C.N.A./N.N.O.C. messages or information, because they agreed to a clause that required C.N.A./N.N.O.C’s. approval of any flyer that the hospital management would post regarding the unionizing efforts with their hospitals (keep in mind C.N.A./N.N.O.C. were not yet a recognized bargaining unit at any of these hospitals). C.N.A./N.N.O.C. representatives were given meeting space and permission to have information booths in employee areas; but when a group of Tenet nurses (many of whom were already members of the state’s professional nurses association, the Texas Nurses’ Association) requested the same privilege they were denied by hospital administration. So instead the nurses were expected to, and did run their own information campaign on their own dime and time. These nurses organized a truth-a-thon to provide interested nurses with another side of the “union/non-union” story; C.N.A./N.N.O.C. were so fearful that these nurses had decided to provide an alternate voice that C.N.A./N.N.O.C. representatives took photographs of the “no to” C.N.A./N.N.O.C. nurses and those nurses that requested information at the truth-a-thon.   Which is why I’m always skeptical at unions that whine about the harsh tactics of management when they often engage in the very same or even worse tactics that they accuse management.

In the end with a very small margin CyFair nurses voted to accept the union but of course C.N.A./N.N.O.C. declared an outright victory and that a new day was dawning for the nurses of Texas, because soon C.N.A./N.N.O.C. would release all RNs in Texas from the shackles of “servitude” and “oppression”. But wait; there was still Northwest and Park Plaza.   What happened to the union vote at these two institutions? Well, just as C.N.A./N.N.O.C. came into Houston like thieves in the night on April 14th they formally withdrew their petition and they slunk out of Park Plaza and Northwest, once they realized that the RNs at Northwest and Park Plaza with help from CyFair nurses were not about to abdicate their professional voices without full disclosure. These nurses launched, again on their own time and dime, an information campaign and as luck would have it they got to observe how C.N.A./N.N.O.C. representatives acted during the CyFair union organization drive and for every pro-union button that was being worn, two no thanks C.N.A. buttons were being worn as well. The Park Plaza nurses mounted such excellent information campaign that C.N.A./N.N.O.C. representatives demanded additional time to campaign and of course their request was granted – but even the additional time couldn’t turn the tide for C.N.A./N.N.O.C. Ironically C.N.A./N.N.O.C. accused the two Tenet Hospitals with colluding with the NRTW Foundation as to why their organizing efforts failed. Let me get this straight Tenet gives C.N.A./N.N.O.C., complete access to employee personnel records, unfettered access to nurses while at work, in the units, break rooms and wherever else nurses gathered in the hospital and denied nurses who opposed the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. message even the opportunity to provide their side of the story, except when those nurses did all the work themselves on their own dime and outside hospital premises and C.N.A./N.N.O.C. whines, stomps their feet and cries “FOUL”? This is just one more reason that I oppose unions for nurses, because this is not the kind of behavior I want to see exhibited by the nurse professional.

Where is the Texas media to report the withdrawal? All the while C.N.A./N.N.O.C. was actively organizing the newspapers could barely contain themselves and happily reported on the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. progress; but now that C.N.A./N.N.O.C. has withdrawn there has been nary a peep.

Of course, I know why C.N.A./N.N.O.C. and their supporters in the media doesn’t want it known that the nurses of Northwest and Park Plaza rejected their overtures; because God forbid should nurses be lead to believe that they can speak for themselves since the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. campaign is based heavily on “nurses are so weak, disenfranchised and oppressed” that only a union can adequately represent them. So when nurses reject the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. either by voting them down as recently happened in Fresno, or decertify as in the San Diego area, or stand-up and don’t even let them get their foot in the door as in Houston then the mythos created by C.N.A./N.N.O.C. is damaged and thus makes their propaganda much less affective.


If one were to believe the C.N.A. (based on the quote from their official spokesperson) that was written up in the August 12th issue of the Houston Chronicle (read the story here — an eight vote difference is a “majority” and thus an overwhelming endorsement for union representation and anyone that questions this vote is undemocratic. Contrary to the C.N.A. allegations, what the National Right to Work Foundation has ( done is file an unfair labor practice allegation against both the C.N.A. and Tenet (you can read the press release here – They allege is that the neutrality agreement that was signed between Tenet and the C.N.A. was the first “wrong” action in the C.N.A. attempt to gain a foothold in Texas. In addition, the nurses have alleged that this neutrality agreement was so one-sided it provided the Houston-area Tenet nurses no choice in which union the nurses could join, so in essence the C.N.A. was foisted on them. To make matters worse the so-called neutrality agreement also gagged the managers from speaking or answering questions raised by the nurses, leaving the nurses very little access to information that wasn’t either provided by the C.N.A. or vetted and approved by the C.N.A. – talk about a raw deal. Not to mention the agreement gave the C.N.A. access to the private home addresses and telephone numbers of the nurses without the nurses’ knowledge or permission. It’s also my understanding that a neutrality agreement is generally not introduced or signed until the prospective union can demonstrate that there’s an interest expressed by the nurses to be represented by that union, which I understand never happened in this case.

Something tells me that if the roles were reversed the C.N.A. would have been screaming “bloody murder” and Congressman Henry “I’ve never met a congressional hearing I didn’t like” Waxman would have been chairing hearings on such outlandish behavior. So the nurses have had to rely on themselves and a network of management/union-savvy nurses from around the country to get answers and information to then share among themselves. But then again we are talking about the world according to the union, so we shouldn’t expect things to appear logical. I feel confident in making such a bold statement because a couple of months back a Fresno-area hospital rejected the C.N.A. for the second time by a 125 vote margin, and guess what the C.N.A. has contested the outcome. How come the C.N.A. cries undemocratic to question a neutrality agreement that results in an eight-vote margin win for the union, but when another hospital’s nurses vote to stay union-free this is worthy of being contested by the C.N.A., which that claims that all it wants to do is let the nurses have a voice?

I guess it just another example of a union talking the talk but not walking the walk – why am I not surprised.

Did Tenet “sell” its nurses out?

For the past year or so the National Nurses Organizing Committee (N.N.O.C.), a spin-off of the California Nurses Association (C.N.A.) has been aggressively trying to recruit and add nurses from across the country to their union. At present N.N.O.C. has Texas-area nurses in their sights and they are currently in Houston (under a neutrality agreement) trying to recruit nurses from three Tenet-owned, Houston-area hospitals; the three hospitals are: Cy-Fair, Houston-Northwest, and Park-Plaza.



When I learned of the N.N.O.C. activities in these hospitals I reached out to some of my contacts in Houston as well as at least one of the nurses who had been identified as leading a nurse-driven opposition to the unionization attempt. Several conversations and emails later my daughters and I found ourselves taking a short trip to Houston and meeting with the various nurses from all three hospitals. Even though I had received a great deal of background information from these nurses prior to arriving in Houston the sheer scope of the nurses’ abandonment and betrayal by their employer only became clear after I read the Tenet/C.N.A.-N.N.O.C. neutrality agreement and listened to the personal stories of the RNs that I met during my stay.



I thought how odd that a neutrality agreement would be signed even before the union presented any authorization cards showing that there was an interest from the nurses to call for a vote. Neutrality agreements are often controversial, but in short a well-written one (i.e. one that favors the union at the expense of employer rights) can make unionizing efforts much easier for the union and its representative. The Tenet/C.N.A.-N.N.O.C. agreement is heavily weighted in favor of the union, even going so far as requiring that the hospital have any of its opposition information which was to be neutral-language based preapproved by the C.N.A./N.N.O.C before it could be distributed; and the part that I thought even more interesting was the part where the hospital would provide the union with the names of “eligible” RNs personal contact information. The nurses didn’t even know their private, confidential contact information had been provided to this third party until nurses began receiving calls at home from union representatives; it was only after numerous complaints from nurses that the nurses were given an opportunity to opt-out but of course by then the union already had the complete list. One nurse shared that she discovered her contact information had been released to the union, without her knowledge, when union representatives contacted her at home and used her given name not the “nickname” that she normally goes by even at work.

The nurses that strongly opposed the union quickly formed two ad-hoc groups, UB-144 and Informed RN ( to reach out and provide an alternative source of information then the one being provided by C.N.A./N.N.O.C.   Though one cannot necessarily blame the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. for drafting a contract that favors them and their cause so heavily, I wonder why the administration at Tenet was so willing to pretty much just roll over and take it. The first rule of contract negotiation is to make the tough demands up front and then negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. But there is little give and take in this agreement since it binds Tenet in such a way they have pretty much left the nurses that want non-union information out in the cold with no support from any Tenet official. However, these nurses showing a great deal of initiative have reached out and garnered answers and support from other nurses in Texas and across this nation – because of the little known fact that nursing unions and most of the main-stream media fail to clarify is that nursing unions do not represent the voice of nurses, since most nurses (either 89% or 80% depending on which statistic you pick) choose to speak with their own voice – not a union voice.



However, what concerns this nurse and citizen most is what, in my opinion, is a very undemocratic and almost draconian tact that the C.N.A./N.N.O.C has demanded of the three Tenet hospitals. For example C.N.A./N.N.O.C. can and does get meeting space at all three of these hospital – this is fair; but when Tenet-nurses wanted to get their “we are professionals and don’t need a union to represent us” message out the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. demanded that the hospital refuse a room to these nurses. Even though these nurses were doing everything on their own time and dime and the only thing they asked for was the same courtesy that C.N.A./N.N.O.C. had demanded – a room to meet in. The C.N.A./N.N.O.C. demanded and got a confidential employee list with the private home contact information of all the eligible RNs; when the nurses of Informed RN asked for the same courtesy they were denied access to the list. So next time when the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. (or any union for that matter) pontificates about democracy and rages against special interest groups – remember the above example because if C.N.A./N.N.O.C. was all about informing and empowering nurses then they wouldn’t fear a grass-action group such as Informed RN. But of course the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. does fear such groups because groups such as Informed RN are all about empowering RNs to be informed and to take action on what they know – all without having to pay dues to the union machine. To me how C.N.A./N.N.O.C. has dealt with the Houston RNs, coupled with the language that they crafted for a California Assembly Bill 1201 (thankfully killed in committee) shows what their union leadership really think of nurses.



Meanwhile, I hear that these buttons (see below) are so popular that Informed RN can hardly make enough to meet with the demands. Way to go Informed RN!