Nurses', respiratory therapists' union petitions go to hearings

Carson-Tahoe Hospital nurses and respiratory therapists will have to wait to see if they will be allowed union representation.

The state Local Government Employees Management Relations Board decided Thursday to grant the hospital's request for a hearing to challenge the petitions from Operating Engineers Local Union Number 3.

The hearings for the separate nurse's and respiratory therapist's petitions are scheduled for Feb. 9.

Board Commissioner Shari Thomas said EMRB meetings are closed and she could not comment on the deliberations.

"We are an administrative board and are required to construe things liberally and allow people a chance to be heard," Thomas said.

Carson-Tahoe has an employees association which bargains collectively with management for all hospital employees. Nurses and respiratory therapists have argued they have special needs which require a separate bargaining unit to deal with their specific concerns.

Nurses at Carson-Tahoe say they are seeking a union separate from their employee association to raise the quality of care for patients, lower nurse stress and to operate more efficiently and safely. Respiratory therapists are looking for the ability to adjust to their workload.

Union representative Pete Ford said the board's decisions meant that the EMRB "agrees there is an issue that needs to be tried."

Union spokesman Steve Moler said the February hearings would offer an opportunity for all sides to be heard.

"If nothing else in this country, we have due process," Moler said. "We feel we have logical reasons for doing this, and we get to explain our side and our reasons. We're confident in this situation, and we're confident what we're doing is right."

Hospital labor attorney Charlie Cockerill could not be reached for comment.


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