Labor Judge Orders Prime Healthcare to Honor Contract with 1,100 Employees

[Feb. 19, 2016] LOS ANGELES – A judge from the National Labor Relations Board recently ordered Prime Healthcare Services to honor a contract agreement affecting 1,100 of its employees at three hospitals in Southern California that the company had refused to implement since November 2014.

The NLRB judge’s ruling confirmed that Prime had in fact given its approval to the negotiated contract with the workers’ union, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, and then failed to recognize it. The ruling dismissed Prime’s claims as “vague, evasive, confusing and inconsistent.”

“Both sides – workers and management – approved this contract 17 months ago and thankfully the judge is forcing Prime to now honor the commitment made to its employees,” said Martha Alvarez, a certified nursing assistant and 40-year employee at Centinela Medical Center in Inglewood, Calif. “It’s sad that even when Prime says “yes” to something that helps patient care, it will later do anything to get out of it in the name of running up profits.”

The contract agreement covers more than 1,100 workers at Centinela Medical Center, Encino Medical Center and Garden Grove Medical Center. Prime has 21 days to announce its plan to comply with the NLRB decision.

The ruling marks the second setback for Prime Healthcare Services in the last three months. In November 2015, the NLRB issued a separate decision requiring Prime Healthcare to reimburse 630 employees at Centinela Medical Center an estimated $1.6 million for illegally cutting workers’ healthcare benefits over a five-year period. Some of the employees affected by the ruling were forced to pay as much as $3,900 more per year for their health coverage.

Prime Healthcare is currently trying to acquire a non-profit facility, Petaluma Valley Hospital in Petaluma, Calif., a sale strongly opposed by healthcare workers who criticize the company’s longstanding model of putting profits before patients.

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