The Case of the Misguided Supervisors

The Case of the Misguided Supervisors

Recently, when a union sought to organize the nurses at a California hospital, the nursing supervisors, called charge nurses, didn’t understand their proper role in the process. While the union was distributing cards for the nurses to indicate their desire for a representation election, several of the charge nurses participated in the union’s meetings and decided they wanted to join. Some of these charge nurses also encouraged nurses who reported to them to support the union as well.

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One month before the election, the hospital discovered that charge nurses had supported the union even though their positions in the organization qualified them as supervisors. The charge nurses stopped advocating for the union, and some even encouraged nonsupervisory nurses to vote against representation. The election went ahead, and the union won representation.

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The hospital challenged the election because of the pro-union activity by the nurses. However, the NLRB and the court both upheld the union.

Questions

1.   Why would an organization care whether its supervisors speak in favor of or against union representation?

2.   How could the hospital in this example have prepared its supervisors so they would have understood their proper role during the organizing campaign?

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SOURCES: National Labor Relations Boards, “The NLRB Process,” http://www.nlrb.gov, accessed May 3, 2012; National Labor Relations Board, “NLRB Representation Case Amendments Take Effect Today,” news release, April 30, 2012, http://www.nlrb.gov; Duane Morris LLP, “Two NLRB Rules Effective April 30 Affect Most Private-Sector Employers,” Mondaq Business Briefing, April 20, 2012, http://galenet.galegroup.com.

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