News Column

Nurses at El Paso's Sierra OK National Union

Feb. 14, 2013

Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times, Texas

Sierra Medical Center nurses voted Tuesday to join a national nurses union.

The National Nurses Organizing Committee-Texas, a part of National Nurses United, the nation's largest registered nurses' union, also won an election last year to represent registered nurses at Sierra's sister facility, Providence Memorial Hospital. The hospitals are operated by Tenet Healthcare Inc., a Dallas-based hospital chain.

The union in 2010 won elections to represent registered nurses at El Paso's Del Sol and Las Palmas, which are operated by HCA Inc., another national hospital chain.

Sierra's registered nurses voted 113 to 74 in the Tuesday election, the union reported.

The union's victory comes after it lost an election at Sierra in October. The union contested the results, and the National Labor Relations Board held a new election.

The results make El Paso a union town for registered nurses, Monica Martell, a Sierra nurse, said in a statement issued by the union.

"We will use our collective unity to improve quality of care for the hospitals in our city and raise the standards for nurses in Texas," Martell said.

The union will represent about 250 registered nurses at Sierra.

Sierra officials are disappointed with the results, but Sierra will negotiate in good faith to reach agreement on a labor contract with the union, Audrey Garcia, a Sierra spokeswoman, said in a statement.

"Sierra Medical Center believes what's best for employees and management is working together without the involvement of a third party," Garcia said. "It has always been our position that the hospital offers competitive wages and benefits, and management promotes a positive work environment."

Two nurses filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board last year, alleging that union organizers received preferential access to Sierra and Providence for unionization efforts while those opposed to the union were denied the same access. The board late last year set an April hearing on the complaints.



Source: (c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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