Union alleges Stanford Health Care illegally threatened security staff jobs over plans to unionize

Aug. 6, 2022, 10:48 a.m.

Teamsters, a union seeking to represent security staff at Stanford Health Care (SHC), alleged in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaint that SHC threatened the jobs of their security staff and punished an employee for organizing in an illegal move.

Teamsters alleged that the hospital system threatened that unionization could cause a “staff reduction” and result in staff “losing benefits” in a filing last month. The union submitted another complaint this week that an employee had been “threatened, coerced and retaliated against” for exercising legally-protected organizing rights. 

The Teamsters’ Union has received emails from multiple Stanford Health Care security officers, obtained by The Daily, that outline several NLRB rights violations. These include threats of replacement by contract security, changes to work assignments since the topic of organization came up, promises of promotion as a reward for not unionizing and more. 

Teamsters has been trying to unionize a group of over 130 Stanford Health Care security staff members for several months, according to a Bloomberg article. In April, according to Teamsters Local 853 Business Representative Pablo Barrera, which seeks to represent the guards, the union requested that Stanford Health Care recognize and negotiate with the union.

In a comment to The Daily, Stanford Health Care spokesperson Juile Greicius wrote that Stanford Health Care “respects the rights of all our employees and believes it is every employee’s own choice to join or not to join a union.”

Greicius declined to comment on the specific allegations of management-level threat raised in the filing. 

According to Berrera, Stanford Health Care rejected Teamsters’ request, citing that, according to the National Labor Relations Act, the appropriate way for workers to unionize would be through a labor board election overseen by the NLRB.

Greicius wrote that, “In this specific instance because the Teamsters represent other work groups besides guards, federal labor law restricts the Teamsters union from pursuing a traditional petition and NLRB election, a fact that the Teamsters have acknowledged and confirmed.”

The legal barrier in question, Section 9(b)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, states that “[N]o labor organization shall be certified as the representative of employees in a bargaining unit of guards if such organization admits to membership, or is affiliated directly or indirectly with an organization which admits to membership, employees other than guards.”

According to the Teamsters Union, however, Stanford Health Care can voluntarily recognize the union and begin bargaining for a fair contract. 

“Although Section 9(b)(3) prohibits the NLRB from conducting an election for guards seeking to be represented by a labor organization which admits both guards and non-guards, an employer may voluntarily recognize a ‘mixed-guard union’ under the Act,” wrote Barrera, who cited multiple cases in which this was possible.

California lawmakers, such as State Representatives Ash Karla (27th district),  Robert Rivas (30th district), Mark Stone (29th district) and Alex Lee (25th district) and State Senator Dave Cortese (15th district), have all joined Teamsters in urging Stanford Health Care to pursue this option.

Berrera also outlined alternative procedures to effectuate the establishment of Teamsters Local 853 as the recognized bargaining representative of the security officers. 

“First, the Employer may voluntarily agree to a card check procedure conducted by either the FMCS or some other acceptable neutral third party.  Second, SHC and the Union may agree upon an election process through the California State Mediation and Conciliation Service (CSMCS) which has agreed to conduct such an election following the same policies and procedure followed by the NLRB.  Finally, SHC and the Union may agree upon an election process through a private agency such as Unilect Election Services which has conducted numerous such elections for labor and management.”

“As both parties respect the right of these employees to freely make up their own minds regarding union representation, we are confident that the Union and SHC can agree upon a procedure to make that happen,” wrote Berrera.

This article has been corrected to reflect an error an editor introduced that Teamsters seeks to represent the guards; it does not currently represent the guards. The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Oriana at news ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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