NEWS: Prime-Owned Centinela Hospital Accused by Labor Board of Surveillance, Unlawful Activities Against Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 15, 2012
Contact: David Tokaji, (213) 300-8892

INGLEWOOD – In a sharp rebuke of controversial hospital chain Prime Healthcare, the National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against the corporate giant for its treatment of workers at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood. The wide-ranging allegations against Prime include interrogation and surveillance of workers, bad faith contract negotiations with its workforce, and unlawful implementation of an employee health insurance plan.

“This complaint is further evidence of what I have already experienced personally with Prime Healthcare facilities: paranoia, intimidation, and cost-cutting at the expense of its caregivers and the overall health of the community,” said Assembly Member Steven Bradford (D – Gardena). “Prime’s business and labor practices raise serious concerns for the health and well-being of my constituents and I look forward to seeing a full investigation by the NLRB.”

The complaint catalogs a series of sometimes bizarre activities that Prime management at Centinela Hospital directed towards its workers. According to the document, one administrator told a union representative in the presence of an employee that Prime “had cameras everywhere and was watching,” creating “an impression among employees that their union activities were under surveillance” by Prime.

The complaint also describes how members of Prime management “interrogated employees about their union membership, activities or sympathies” and how union representatives were required “to be escorted throughout [the] facility by security guards.”

“The way Prime management at Centinela treats its caregivers undermines the level of care that we’re able to provide,” said Stephanie Allen, a respiratory therapist at Centinela Hospital. “Every minute Prime spends trying to bully and interrogate its workers is a minute taken away from patient care.”

The Labor Board has set a hearing for July 9 to hear testimony regarding the complaint against Prime.

The complaint comes as Prime is already facing allegations from the Labor Board for its treatment of workers. Earlier this month, the Labor Board conducted a hearing in Los Angeles about Prime’s termination of a veteran employee at Encino Hospital Medical Center. In October, Prime fired caregiver Pat Aguirre shortly after she represented a coworker regarding a workplace issue and after she spoke before the state Attorney General’s office about the negative impact of Prime’s business practices on patients and workers.

In a complaint about the firing, the Labor Board claimed that Aguirre’s termination was an act of discrimination by Prime in an effort to discourage membership in her union, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West.

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SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States with more than 150,000 members. We unite every type of healthcare worker with a mission to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. SEIU-UHW is part of the 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.

Source: SEIU-UHW

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