After a trial with 33 hearing days over two years, a National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge has found Meadowlands Hospital guilty of more than a dozen violations of labor rights of nurses and healthcare workers at the hospital going back to 2011, shortly after a for-profit group of owners took over the community hospital. The Administrative Law Judge issued his decision based on unfair labor practice charges filed by HPAE, the union representing the 300 workers.
Among the violations cited were failure to pay proper wages to RN ‘interns’, changes to the health insurance plan, failure to make 401K payments, improperly laying off staff, refusing union staff access to meet with members at the hospital, and failure to provide the union with information needed to properly represent their members.
In the decision, dated September 22, 2016, the Judge ordered Meadowlands Hospital to remedy the violations, including:
*Making retirement fund contributions of 2% of pay into each employees’ 401K account going back to October, 2012 when hospital owners terminated the payments.
*Reimbursing nurse ‘interns’ for the difference between the minimum wages they received and the wages of other union nurses. Meadowlands had hired at least 90 RNs as ‘interns’, paying them minimum wage or nothing at all for periods of a few weeks to a few months.
* Offering employment to workers improperly laid-off and denied their rights to take other open positions.
* Allowing union representatives access to the hospital to meet with members.
*Providing the union information that had been denied regarding the findings of hospital accreditation inspections and on ‘Veritas’ a related employer at the hospital whose workers the union believed should have had union rights.
The Judge also ordered Meadowlands to end threats made to workers that the hospital or units would close in retaliation for employee union activity.
“These workers have persevered and continued to provide care to the community, even as their rights were systematically and continuously violated,” said Ann Twomey, president of the 13,000-member HPAE. “We applaud this decision, and intend to pursue every legal means to make sure that Meadowlands’ owners set aside adequate funds to repay workers their rightful wages and earned benefits.”
HPAE leaders were still calculating the amount of funds owed to workers, but estimated that just two claims, for nurse intern wages and 401K contributions, would amount to more than $2.5 million. ##
For Immediate Release September 23, 2016 Contact: Jeanne Otersen 201-280-9279