Proposal Would Increase Union Strike Capabilities

    The state Public Employee Relations Board has issued a
    proposal that legalizes unfair-labor-practice strikes by public employees
    throughout California. If
    finalized, the proposal will represent a victory for the California Nurses
    Association — among other labor unions — which is currently amid efforts to
    bargain over patient care issues.

    PERB administrative law judge Donn Ginoza’s order found that
    the University of California
    violated the law by refusing to bargain over the union’s staffing proposal and
    by concealing information from nurses about patient classification systems used
    to determine staffing decisions.

    Unless it is appealed, the proposed ruling will be finalized
    on May 8.

    The proposed ruling would require the UC system to negotiate
    patient-care issues raised by nurses in future talks and to publicly post
    decisions in all of its medical facilities.

    The case dates back to a one-day CNA strike in July 2005
    regarding the university’s alleged failure to bargain in good faith over nurse
    and other staffing practices. The UC system obtained a court injunction to
    block the strike just hours before it was scheduled to begin.

    “This is a refreshing acknowledgement of the fundamental,
    democratic right of California public employees to strike — and a stunning
    rebuke for the university’s attempts to silence the collective voice of UC
    nurses,” Geri Jenkins, a member of the union council of presidents, said in a
    statement.

    UC Office of the President spokesman Paul Schwartz said the
    university is reviewing the proposed ruling and will likely appeal it.

    “We are very disappointed in the decision as we think it
    fails to reinforce the joint duty that labor and management have to resolve
    disputes at the bargaining table and protect against conduct such as strikes
    that threaten public safety,” he said in a statement.

    If the UC system does contest it, Schwartz said the ruling
    will not take effect until it is resolved by the full board.

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