The University of California today filed charges against the California Nurses Association ( CNA) for unfair labor practices and bad-faith negotiating tactics executed during collective bargaining sessions for UC’s more than 8,500 nurses. The parties have been attempting to reach a new labor agreement since re-opener bargaining sessions began in April.
In today’s filing with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), UC identified two unfair labor practices by CNA:CNA insisted on introducing issues not previously agreed upon by the parties to be part of the 2006 re-opener negotiations. In doing so, the union attempted to unilaterally change the agreement reached between the university and its nurses last December, which is considered bad faith bargaining. CNA’s efforts at the bargaining table were superficial and not a real effort to reach agreement.
CNA’s actions violated the California labor law that requires that the parties negotiate in good faith – genuinely meeting and conferring in an effort to reach agreement.
UC’s filing follows a joint declaration of impasse after the parties failed to reach agreement during four scheduled negotiation sessions on the pre-determined bargaining issues – missed meal and break periods, benefits (health benefits and retiree health plans), and wages. UC and CNA agreed during last December’s contract agreement discussions to “re-open” negotiations only on these issues.
“We have been working very hard and in good faith on our side of the bargaining table these past few months to reach a fair agreement with the union,” said UC’s executive director of labor relations Howard Pripas. “Unfortunately, we do not believe CNA has approached the negotiations with a similar commitment, as evidenced by the union’s failures to propose substantive proposals and its repeated strike threats, which began even before bargaining started.”
“Our nurses deserve a fair and swift contract agreement,” Pripas added. “Everyone’s focus should be on what’s good for our nurses and serving our patients.”
In its more-than-four-page filing, UC noted that “CNA is merely going through the motions…so it can strike,” a tactic intended to “gain concessions on the re-opener subjects and other non-mandatory subjects of bargaining.”
Specifically at issue are CNA’s attempts to introduce into the talks, topics outside the mutually agreed upon scope of these negotiations, such as nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. Despite repeated reminders from UC negotiators that staffing was not an agreed upon item for negotiation during the re-opener sessions, CNA continued to reference staffing when discussing missed meal and rest periods and asserted repeatedly at the table that “everything is a staffing issue.”
A complete copy of UC’s four-page charge is available at www.ucnurses.com.
Today’s filing is not the first unfair labor practice charge against CNA. In 2005, PERB received from a Sacramento Superior Court judge an injunction against the union for its unlawful threats to strike UC facilities. PERB had also previously issued three complaints against CNA for strike activity.
UC’s current filing of unfair labor practices will be reviewed by PERB. PERB will ask CNA to respond to these allegations and will issue a formal complaint against CNA if it determines there appears to be a question of whether CNA is not bargaining in good faith, as alleged by UC.
In the meantime, third-party mediation will move forward as dictated by bargaining guidelines. UC and CNA are set to meet with PERB-appointed mediator Jeff Schrader on July 6. A staff mediator with the State Mediation Conciliation Service, Schrader will work with the two groups in an attempt to resolve the bargaining issues during confidential sessions.
For more information about the university's negotiations with CNA:
www.ucnurses.com or http://atyourservice.ucop.edu/employees/policies/labor_relations/index.html.