NLRB ruling: Whittier must respect workers' rights
In October, 2018, the professional staff union (1199/SEIU) filed a large package of unfair labor practices charges against Whittier with the National Labor Relations Board. The charges covered a wide range of behaviors, including harassment of employees, failure to bargain in good faith, and the retaliatory layoffs of union leaders.
After several months of investigation, the NLRB determined in March 2019 that it was in agreement with 30 of the 32 charges filed. In order to further press its case and apply penalties, a trial was requested by the NLRB before an administrative law judge, which began on June 17, 2019.
Before completion of the trial, the involved parties chose to settle all the charges which, in the case of 1199SEIU and the fired workers, served to avoid prolonged litigation, which could have lasted several more years. Under the terms of the agreement, the three laid off providers received 15 months’ salary in compensation for back wages lost, in return for an agreement not to return to work. Although Whittier originally claimed that the providers were laid off as a cost-cutting measure, its determination to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight these union organizers’ return to work speaks louder than words.
In addition, a settlement allowed a rapid resolution of the other charges being pressed by the NLRB, including multiple instances of worker harassment and failure to bargain in good faith. In the settlement, Whittier promises to respect workers’ rights and adhere to labor law going forward. It must post signs around the health center for 60 days which explain these promises in detail.
Counter charges filed by Whittier against 1199/SEIU were all dismissed by the NLRB, in January 2019, as lacking merit, including a claim against 1199/SEIU for filing unfair labor practices against Whittier. The NLRB’s response: “The filing of an unfair labor practice does not constitute an unfair labor practice.”