Rhode Island Hospital, nurses union counter-file unfair labor practice claims

Nurses stay on the picket lines after they’re “locked out” of their jobs. Photo by Tessa Roy, WPRO News.


By WPRO News

Following a strike and contract negotiations that resumed on Wednesday, Rhode Island Hospital and the union representing many of its employees have filed unfair labor practice claims against each other. The hospital and the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) filed their claims with the National Labor Relations Board.

The hospital said the union has been bargaining in “bad faith.” A statement from a hospital spokesperson accused UNAP of reneging on an agreement to support a tentative memorandum of agreement reached last month, regressing in bargaining to purposely “frustrate” possible agreements, striking over issues not on the table, and making new proposals after a strike notice.

“Based on the unfair and disingenuous approach being taken by UNAP leadership, it may be challenging to reach a formal agreement, despite Rhode Island Hospital’s demonstrated willingness to address key issues – including most recently immediately agreeing to a labor management agreement designed to address issues related to staffing and supplies,” said Anthony D. Rizzotti, Rhode Island Hospital’s outside counsel. “We believe it is critical that both parties engage in a good faith effort to resolve this contract, to ensure that our community continues to have uninterrupted access to the high-quality care Rhode Island Hospital provides.”

UNAP argued the hospital made changes to workplace conditions that were subject to collective bargaining.

“After the recent work action and lockout ended, Lifespan unlawfully instituted unilateral and punitive changes to employee terms and conditions of employment and deliberately targeted members of the collective bargaining unit who freely exercised their protected right to strike,” said Chris Callaci, UNAP general counsel. “These aggressive, retaliatory measures were adopted as a means to threaten and intimidate union members and Lifespan management should be embarrassed by its boorish behavior.”
UNAP also took issued with the fact many of its members could not immediately return to work after the strike ended. Lifespan, the hospital’s parent company, had said patient volume is typically lower after a strike, which meant there wasn’t enough work for everyone scheduled.
UNAP also claimed that the hospital was aware of the union’s intent to file charges with the NLRB. The union asserts the hospital filed its own charges to distract the public.
The resumed contract discussions have so far been inconclusive, but both parties will be at the negotiating table again on August 15.

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