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NLRB Finds Job, Schedule Changes Day After Representation Vote Unlawful

By Roger P. Gilson Jr.
  • May 28, 2005

New York hospital that changed the work schedules, responsibilities and job titles of a group of nutritionists one day after they voted with other technical employees for union representation acted in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Three members of the National Labor Relations Board found the hospital had violated its duty to bargain in good faith and had interfered with the rights of its employ-ees to engage in organizational activities.

The Board said the hospital had not shown that it would have made the changes even if the union vote had not taken place. [Southside Hosp., 344 N.L.R.B. No. 79, 5/12/05.]

Prior to the union vote in September 2002, the hospital employed two categories of nutritionists: nutrition supervisor I and nutrition supervisor II. The duties of a nutrition supervisor I involved visiting patients to assess their physical needs and medical histories. A nutrition supervisor II's job was to distribute information to new patients and record their food preferences and any food allergies.

After the nutrition supervisors and other technical employees voted for representation by the Health and Human Services Union 1199, the supervisor of the nutrition supervisors notified each of the employees that, in light of the union vote, "all supervision and non-union tasks will be removed from your job description." Also, the supervisor notified them that the hospital would require two weeks notice before taking leave, that their schedules would be changed, that they would have to record their hours with a time clock, and that they would receive a 30-minute lunch and two 15-minute breaks, instead of a one-hour lunch period.

The hospital also notified the employees that their job titles and duties had been changed to what amounted to a downgrade. Registered dieticians with higher education levels assumed some of the duties that previously had been done by nutrition supervisor I positions, which had been given some of the duties formerly done by nutrition supervisor IIs.

New York hospital that changed the work sched-ules, responsibilities and job titles of a group of nutritionists one day after they voted with other technical employees for union representation acted in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Three members of the National Labor Relations Board found the hospital had violated its duty to bargain in good faith and had interfered with the rights of its employ-ees to engage in organizational activities.

The Board said the hospital had not shown that it would have made the changes even if the union vote had not taken place. [Southside Hosp., 344 N.L.R.B. No. 79, 5/12/05.]

Prior to the union vote in September 2002, the hospi-tal employed two categories of nutritionists: nutrition supervisor I and nutrition supervisor II. The duties of a nutrition supervisor I involved visiting patients to assess their physical needs and medical histories. A nutrition supervisor II's job was to distribute information to new patients and record their food preferences and any food allergies.

After the nutrition supervisors and other technical employees voted for representation by the Health and Human Services Union 1199, the supervisor of the nutrition supervisors notified each of the employees that, in light of the union vote, "all supervision and non-union tasks will be removed from your job description." Also, the supervisor notified them that the hospital would require two weeks notice before taking leave, that their schedules would be changed, that they would have to record their hours with a time clock, and that they would receive a 30-minute lunch and two 15-minute breaks, instead of a one-hour lunch period.

The hospital also notified the employees that their job titles and duties had been changed to what amounted to a downgrade. Registered dieticians with higher education levels assumed some of the duties that previously had been done by nutrition supervisor I positions, which had been given some of the duties formerly done by nutrition supervisor IIs.

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