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but no official announcement was made until April 26th when I received word from several of my sources that the CNA had withdrawn their petition – effectively ending the fight to unionize the HMH RNs.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.

Enough is enough

Since April of last year there has been the constant drone from the California Nurses’ Association (CNA) and their supporters of “just let the Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH) nurses vote”. Elected officials such as Congresswoman Judy Chu, Pasadena City Councilpersons, Gordo and Tornek, former Pasadena City Councilperson Robinson, various “community leaders” and others have picketed the hospital, held rallies, written letters to the editor and what not echoing this simple plea. However, when the vote which was held in April 2015 showed that a majority of HMH nurses voted no to having union representation these same individuals who claimed they were only interested in the HMH nurses getting to vote suddenly had a change of heart and cried foul, demanding that the vote be stricken and a new vote taken even though well over 90% of eligible HMH RNs came out to cast their vote.

As expected both the CNA and HMH leadership filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), each claiming that the other side had made one type of violation or another. The NLRB rendered numerous decisions, some in upholding the CNA claims and dismissing others. In the meantime the campaign to disparage the care at HMH continued unabated. Even after the CNA and HMH agreed to set aside the vote and hold a new election there were those CNA supporters who seemed unable to control themselves and continued their attempts to vilify HMH and its leadership.

One such person is an individual named John Grula, PhD who writes a column for the Pasadena Weekly. He’s most recent diatribe against HMH can be found here – http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/outbreak_of_truth/16130/.

He makes many claims in his article, which on their face sound absolutely outrageous. Claims such as CNA-affiliated RNs provide the best patient care in our state. To bolster this claim he brings up the Olympus scope and how the failure to properly clean them lead to bad consequences for many patients. He goes into great detail about these incidents that occurred at HMH, but failed to mention that there were at least two other LA-area hospitals that had similar outbreaks and breeches in reporting such outbreaks. One such hospital was UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, which ironically he cites as having CNA-affiliated RNs that provide the best care in our state.

At the beginning of Grula’s article he cites a June 1, 2016 LA Times article which if you don’t read beyond the first paragraph paints a dim picture about how HMH handled the drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, if you read the full article, which you can find here — http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-huntington-hospital-scopes-20160601-snap-story.html, a slightly different picture emerges. The article lays out the problem was not just at HMH, but at hospitals across our nation, it also lays out the steps HMH took to correct the matter.

His article goes on to mention the firing of two HMH nurses, which the CNA and their supporters claimed was in response to the nurses’ pro-union stance and unionizing activities. He then writes that the NLRB agreement rescinded their termination, removing any mention of termination from their employment record, that they received back pay and that one nurse had returned to HMH. While some of his statement is correct, he fails to mention that while any mention of their termination was removed from their employment files notating instead that they had voluntarily resigned. Grula goes on to claim that one of these nurses chose to return, but my research shows that the nurse he claims returned to work at HMH, hasn’t. The reason for this appears to be related to the NLRB agreement, which bars both nurses from ever working at or having any business with HMH now or in the future. Not to mention that I know that at least one complaint has been filed with the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) about the nurses and the possible violation of our nurse practice act. Several weeks ago, I learned that several HMH nurses have admitted to being questioned by the BRN. Now whether this goes anywhere remains to be seen.

In the end, I find it ironic that the CNA and their supporters continue to rant and rave about giving the HMH RNs a voice, but seem to ignore that their “victory” at having the HMH vote overturn effectively gaged the voice of the 539 HMH RNs that voted no to union representation. Throughout this entire contested voting period the CNA and their supporters seem to only advocate for the 445 HMH RNs that voted for union representation and minimize the fact that a majority voted not to unionize.

Where are the CNA and their supporters speaking out in support of these nurses? Nowhere I guess, because it would appear to me that the CNA and many of their supporters appear ethically and morally challenged to acknowledging that these RNs might actually feel that they don’t need a nursing union to speak for them.

You may recall that back in September of last year I blogged about at least one complaint being filed against Nurse Allysha Almada and Vicki Lin with our Board of Nursing (BRN). It’s come to my attention that BRN investigators  have interviewed several Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH) nurses regarding the Almada/Lin affair.

At this point I have no idea what these nurses told the BRN investigators or what questions that the BRN investigators had for the nurses. However, as I learn more I’ll be sure to share the information on The Nurse Unchained. Of course the BRN investigators may conclude that there wasn’t a violation of our nurse practice act in which case the allegation can be closed with or without merit. However if its decided that the allegation is substantiated then the allegation can be refer to the Attorney General for formal disciplinary action or refer to cite and fine. This is call an accusation and if a nurse has an accusation filed against him/her it will show up on a license search.

You can learn more about the complaint process by pointing your browser here

Also point you browser here for my article on the California BRN WNM California BRN1

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.

A lot’s been “said” in print about the recent vote to unionize/not-unionize the RNs at Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH). If you’d listened to the California Nurses Association (CNA) and many of their vociferous supporters you’d think that it was HMH management that was trying to suppress the vote, but you’d be wrong. You may wonder how I came to this conclusion, simple by looking at the outcome of the NLRB-led and supervised April 15th – 16th election. The unofficial outcome of the vote was as follows – 539 No to 445 Yes with 176 Challenged ballots. There are 176 ballots left to be counted and were challenged by either HMH or the CNA, which is their prerogative. However, if you’re a “true believer” of the CNA party line you might assume that it’s HMH that has challenged the lion’s share of the 176 ballots, but you’d be wrong. It’s my understanding that HMH has challenged only five that’s right five of the 176 challenged ballots, leaving 171 votes challenged by the CNA, that’s right the CNA is the side that has chosen to challenge the largest number of ballots. On the bright side, it looks like pretty much every eligible RN who was entitled to vote did just that with only about 40 nurses abstaining. This, in my humble opinion, is proof that contrary to the heated rhetoric of the past several months show that the HMH RN’s felt free to vote! Now why would the CNA, the nursing union that kept spewing the “just let the nurses vote” mantra at every media source they could find and painting HMH as some kind of boogey man when it came to the nurses voting on the issue of whether or not to unionize, challenge so many ballots? Why, because they feared that the majority of these 171 ballots were not in favor of the union and thus their strategy was to challenge these ballots, thus hopefully swinging the outcome of the vote in their favor. However it would appear that this strategy might have backfired. We should know the final results on April 27th and if the NO votes win the day the CNA will of course respect the nurses will – NOT! They’ve already made it clear (just take a peek at their newest flyer handed out the very next day – CNA Flyer) that they plan to continue their campaign to unionize the RNs at HMH – so much for “just let the nurses vote”. Hypocrite, thy name is the CNA.

I would hope that Professor Dreier is a better fact checker of his instructional material than he is of his columns, because in his above entitled column he failed to fact check the statements about me provided to him in all likelihood by the California Nurses Association (CNA).

Not only does he mangle the name of my company (it’s Solutions Outside the Box, not Outside the Box Solutions), he also falsely accuses me of having been hired by Huntington Memorial Hospital (HMH) to as he puts it “to harass and intimidate nurses and undermine their organizing efforts”. I’ve not received, been paid, promised, etc., a single red cent by Huntington Memorial Hospital. I’ve also not engaged in any way shape or form to harass or intimidate any HMH nurse. The CNA (whose leadership fears me as well as any nurse willing to stand up to their machinations) is always happy to spread lies and untruths – in short they know that I’m not being compensated but they are happy to say I am because more often then not the folks that support them (like Prof. Dreier) don’t bother to fact check the information that the CNA spoon feeds them.

Prof. Dreier goes on in his column to illustrate, as so often happens when ideologues from either side of the political spectrum get their “panties in a wad” to tell the tale of woe of their favorite side and ignore the experiences from the other side of the discussion. So, since Prof. Dreier’s fact checking is lacking let me set a few things straight.

First, I was contacted by several HMH nurses that wanted to learn what their options were to avoid a union. In that spirit, I met with a group who came on their own time and dime to learn what resources and recourses they had to provide a counter-point to the “let’s join a nursing union” advocates. They didn’t pay me a red cent. I did however secure the domain name of their group, IStandWithHuntington.com to ensure that it couldn’t be co-opted for other uses, but it’s the IStandWithHuntington nurses that run it and moderate it.

Second, I know that many of the “we don’t need or want to join the union” nurses have shared stories of being followed, tires being slashed, secure areas (key-card accessible only areas) doors of the hospital being propped opened with orange traffic cones bearing the name of hospitals other than HMH have been reported. One nurse who has vocally opposed the CNA returned to her station to find that someone had left feces on her chair. In case you think she imagined such a disgusting act, a third party observed a pro-union nurse committing the act. As for the incident that Prof. Dreier states occurred in the HMH cafeteria, I understand that there is a video of the event and from what has been described to me the pro-CNA nurses weren’t just sitting politely at a table, but instead were blocking egress to the cafeteria and one of their supporters went so far as to go over to the IStandWithHuntington group in a confrontational manner to verbal abuse the nurses for not coming along with the program. So it would appear that there might be bad actors on both sides, which is why such a campaign often leaves open wounds in its wake regardless of which side prevails.

Third, Prof. Dreier parrots the plea for “just let the nurses vote”, but what he fails to inform his readers is that the CNA doesn’t want to let all eligible nurses vote, they want to pick and chose which nurses can vote and they do this by challenging a particular nurses’ vote. When the NLRB called the election the first thing the CNA did was challenge the right of the Patient Flow Coordinators (PFC) to cast a ballot. The NLRB didn’t agree and said the PFC’s could vote but that their ballot would be a different color (a Scarlet letter so to speak), segregated from the other ballots and only counted if the vote was close. Then the CNA, not happy with this, made it clear they planned to “challenge” some of but not all of the PFC ballots – guess which one they didn’t want counted. Finally, the CNA declared that they didn’t want any PFC ballot counted, even though theses nurses if the CNA prevailed would fall under the CNA representation. So I guess when the CNA stomps their feet and shout “just let all the eligible nurses vote” what they really meant to say was “Just let the ones we say have the right to vote, cast a ballot”.

Back in the day when I was a professor of Nursing the need to fact check our information was considered paramount. Perhaps the same exacting standards aren’t required for Prof. Dreier’s department of Urban & Environmental Policy or Occidental College – one would hope not.

You can read Dreier’s column here – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-dreier/huntington-hospital-nurses-defy-union-busting-campaign_b_7051072.html

Terry Tornek for Mayor — NOT!

Not that long ago the Pasadena Star News announced that it endorsed Councilman Terry Tornek for mayor. In their editorial they characterized his running as mayor, as being brave. They came to this conclusion that he was brave by throwing his hat in the ring, before Mayor Boggard (our current mayor) had announced whether or not he’d seek another term. I don’t know about you but I would hardly call what Tornek did as brave, especially since he didn’t resign his council seat – that’s right. He’s currently an elected member of our city council, so if he loses his bid for mayor he can finish out his term. In my book that’s not called being brave, it’s called hedging your bets. At least, Jacque Robinson resigned her council seat to run for mayor – not that’s definitely showing more courage that Tornek – but still not enough to earn my vote.

At first, I was supportive of Robinson in her run for mayor, but as time would reveal she, like her fellow councilmember Tornek, were way too beholding to their union cronies. I was able to come to this conclusion because these two, like Victor Gordo and Judy Chu were only open to listening to the handful of pro-California Nurses Association (CNA) nurses from Huntington Hospital and chose to ignore the requests of the we-don’t-need the CNA nurses from Huntington Hospital (they call themselves IStandWithHuntington). It took 30 or so IStandWithHuntington nurses swarming the CNA sponsored press conference before Robinson, Tornek, et al to even acknowledge that there nurses that had a differing opinion on the issue of whether or not to unionize.

So when I took in account both Tornek and Robinson’s lack of fairness to the IStandWithHuntington nurses and that these two individuals were also sitting councilmembers during at least part of the time a city employee was able to embezzle an estimated 6.4 million of Pasadena taxpayer money – I made the decision that it was time to support a different candidate. So from among the remaining four candidates, I decided that I’d support and vote for Don Morgan.

Your can read my letter here – (LTE PSN Tonrek for Mayor2a) that I sent to the Pasadena Star News, which they have failed, refused — call it what you may. I hope you’ll consider voting for Don Morgan. I think he would be a welcomed change.

In Grula’s opinion piece “Huntington Hospital is Ill” that ran in the November 6, 2014 edition of the Pasadena Weekly, he attempted to paint Huntington Hospital as some kind of sub-par hospital and it’s administration (calling out its CEO Steve Ralphs) as somehow cruel and uncaring of their nursing staff – all this, in my opinion, at the beck and call of the California Nurses Association (CNA).

Why? You may ask, because the CNA has been trying unsuccessfully, to date, to unionize the 1,100 RN workforce that ply their craft at Huntington Hospital. As expected, the CNA was up to its usual shenanigans, they held a rally where they claimed hundreds of supporters attended lining the length of Pasadena Avenue, when in reality somewhere about 80 – 100 people showed up, of which only a handful were actual Huntington RNs. Their theme for the rally, “restore quality patient care”.  As a RN and Pasadena resident it really irked me that the pro-CNA nurses at Huntington would allow the CNA to spread such a despicable message, because to restore something implies that something, in this case quality patient care, is missing which isn’t the case with Huntington Hospital. However, the CNA isn’t one to let the facts get in their way and neither it appears is Grula or the editors at the Pasadena Weekly.

I make this bold statement, because in Grula’s piece he tries to convince his readers that somehow it makes sense to allow the Huntington nurses to unionize because 60% of California nurses already belong to unions. He bases these numbers on two statistics both provided by, you guessed it, the CNA. The first statistic he provides is that there are 200,000 RNs in California and that 120,000 are in unions. So when you use these figures its easy to see how one might conclude that about 60% of all California RNs are in unions, but there’s one small problem. What, pray tell, might that be? All it takes is a quick telephone call to the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) to learn that there are currently 398,134 actively licensed California RNs with another 16,025 holding an inactive license for a total of 414,159 California RNs. It’s that quick and easy. Not sure you can look it up on line at http://www.rn.ca.gov/about_us/stats.shtml or for the most up to date figures you can call the BRN at (916) 574-7699. So with more accurate figures the 60% of all nurses belonging to unions becomes more like 30% with the majority of California nurses (about 70%) choosing to remain union-free.

Gurla also tried to make a point of Huntington’s CEO Ralphs’ salary, but failed to note how much money the CNA will make yearly off the backs of the RNs in the way of dues if they are successful in unionizing the Huntington RN workforce. Think the number one followed by six zeroes and then some. His entire piece supports solely the goal of the CNA and the Huntington RNs that support the CNA, but fails to mention that the greatest opposition comes from within the very Huntington RN family – from members who don’t want the union to represent them as they feel they don’t need an additional layer between them and management. Of course, if Grula even mentioned that opposition was coming from Huntington nurses, themselves, then the CNA’s and his argument that it’s the “evil” management that’s fighting the CNA — falls to pieces and blows the “we’re poor weak nurses who can’t speak for ourselves so we need the CNA to fight our battles for us” theory out of the water.

So when Grula’s piece was published, wrong statistics and all, I submitted a letter to the editor to both correct the erroneous statistics and to provide my two cents on what’s happening at Huntington, which is that the CNA is facing resistance, not from hospital management but from the very nurses they are attempting to organize. Some of the nurses who didn’t want a union reached out to me and asked for advice and guidance, which I was happy to give them. Something the CNA hates, because they like to portray themselves as the protector of the hard working nurse who is somehow so downtrodden by management that they can’t stand on their on two feet. So when the very nurses they want to represent, fight them and spurn the CNA overtures, the leadership of the CNA becomes practically apoplectic.

After emailing my letter to the editor I followed it up with a phone call to the editor, Kevin, and had a nice chat with him and received a promise that he’d run my letter in the November 20th edition. So when November 20th rolled around I picked a copy of the Pasadena Weekly and found that my letter to the editor hadn’t been printed as promised. I called Kevin and imagine my surprise when he informed me that he gave my letter to Grula so he could “respond”. Why? Because somehow the statistics I provided from the BRN were an “opinion”, or as he so quaintly put it “my contention”. I’d say that the Pasadena Weekly editorial staff has egg on its face for failing to fact check Grula’s stats and now their trying to find a way to save face and to dig themselves out of this fiasco of Grula’s and their making.

So, I say to the Pasadena Weekly do the math, show some journalistic integrity, make the correction, print the letter, and let your readers know that it isn’t the management resisting the CNA, but many of the Huntington nurses themselves.

You can read Grula’s “hit piece” on Huntington Hospital here