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Dec 7, 2010 2:03 PM by David Ortiviz

Hospital, nurses reach agreement in union battle

According to National Nurses United, St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo has reached an agreement with a federal agency regarding alleged harassment and coercion of registered nurses.

National Nurses Organizing Committee-Colorado--an affiliate of National Nurses United, had filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. The union claimed the hospital violated certain constitutional rights of nurses. One reported complaint was that off-duty nurses were prohibited from talking with each other about union activities on hospital grounds.

St. Mary-Corwin hospital says it is looking at amending its union solicitation policy based on the settlement agreement. However, the hospital admits no wrongdoing. "There is no final determination that any policy or act of the hospital is illegal," said Rochelle Kelly DeVargas, Public Relations Director at St. Mary-Corwin.  "We settled this case to end the conflict as an alternative to vindicating our position through a costly administrative trial," she added.

DeVargas also points out the union signed the settlement agreement with the NLRB that states: "By entering into this settlement agreement St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center does not admit it violated the National Labor Relations Act."

The NNOC-Colorado/NNU had also accused the hospital of illegally spying on nurses and threatening discipline if nurses talked about the union. St. Mary-Corwin says those allegations are false. "The hospital has been clear with management and staff from day one that St. Mary-Corwin will abide by the NLRA and the NLRB guidelines and we will not tolerate intimidation or harassment by any individual," said DeVargas.

As News First reported back in August, the nurses will be allowed to vote on forming a union if more than 30 percent of them agree.  There are roughly 400 nurses at the hospital.

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