Nurses, healthcare activists, clergy, patients and labor leaders joined together Thursday, November 20th, to protest alleged harassment and “union-busting activities” by the management at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.

The California Nurses Association, a union representing registered nurses in California hospitals, has announced the filing of federal labor charges to the National Labor Relations Board against the St. John’s Health Center.

The Nurses Association has alleged that hospital management has interfered with, restrained and coerced its employees in the exercise of their rights and interrogated employees about their support for the union in the past six months.

The union additionally alleges that hospital management has threatened employees with discipline if they wear insignia in support of the union and imposed discipline in retaliation for union activity in the past six months.

Registered nurses at St. John’s gathered at the event to call on managers to end the alleged harassment of nurses supporting the union.

The mistreatment of nurses has undermined the quality of patient care available at the hospital and has crossed the line into illegal activity, some nurses allege.

“Six years ago, nurses asked St. John’s to recognize their collective voice,” said Liz Wade, a registered nurse in the labor and delivery unit of St. John’s.

“St. John’s at the time hired some of the nastiest ‘union-bust ers’ around to intimidate us,” Wade alleges. “Now we are seeing the same pattern all over again.”

Greg Harrison, marketing and business development director at St. John’s, said in a statement that hospital management believes that “employees have a right to have all their questions answered on the important subject of unionization so that they may cast an informed vote.

“As we do in other matters involving complex legal issues, we engage experts to provide advice on our communications with employees on the subject of unionization to ensure that they are accurate and informative, and comply with legal restrictions.

“The union would rather have employees hear only their side of the story, which is why they refer to our consultants and lawyers as ‘union busters’. The experts we use are not union busters.”

Registered nurse Geri Jenkins, a co-president of the California Nurses Association, said a “solid majority” of registered nurses want to join the union.

Harrison added that hospital management believes that the best way to provide quality patient care is for employees and managers to work together cooperatively, without intervention by a third party, as the hospital has done for more than 65 years.

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