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Federal judge orders new operator of Ohio nursing home to recognize union and rehire former employees

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A federal judge has ordered the operator of an Ohio nursing home to offer reinstatement to about 20 union employees who were not retained when the facility’s management changed hands, and to recognize and bargain with the union that had represented employees at the home before the change.

U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin granted the NLRB’s petition for a temporary injunction after agreeing with the agency that there was reasonable cause to believe the operator – JAG Healthcare, Inc. - refused to hire former employees in an attempt to avoid union obligations.

JAG, doing business as Galion Pointe, LLC, took over operations of the home on July 1, 2010. On that day, according to testimony, the company’s chief executive told a gathering of employees that none of his nursing homes were union and “none of them will be union.” All employees were asked to reapply for their jobs. Of the 37 original employees, 15 were hired, and JAG filled other positions with staff and supervisors from other JAG facilities. New rules were issued forbidding employees from soliciting support for any group, and personnel were directed to call the police if union organizers should come on the premises. Later, three of the rehired employees were fired, allegedly for their union activities.

The injunction also requires JAG to reinstate the three fired employees, to rescind the rules prohibiting employees from discussing unions and union activities in the workplace during times not associated with patient care, and to rescind unilateral changes made to wages, hours and working conditions for bargaining unit employees.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, the buyer of a union company must recognize and bargain with the union if a majority of the buyer’s new employees came from the former union-represented workforce. It is also a violation of labor law to discriminate against union supporters in hiring.

A series of charges were filed by the Service Employees International Union through the summer of 2010. In December, 2011, the NLRB Regional Office in Cleveland issued a complaint setting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.  The Regional Office then filed for the injunction in March, 2012. Judge Gwin noted a “cavalcade of delays attributable to JAG” during the NLRB investigation, including changes in counsel, lack of cooperation, and delays requested to pursue settlement.

Administrative Law Judge Geoffrey Carter issued a decision in the case July 27, finding JAG Healthcare committed multiple unfair labor practices. The injunction issued Tuesday will remain in effect throughout any Board review of that decision.

Regional Attorney Allen Binstock, Deputy Regional Attorney Steven Wilson and Field Attorneys Gregory M. Gleine and Catherine A. Modic were involved in the case on behalf of the Region.

 

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