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SHARON Hospital settles case with fired workers



Published: Sun, February 24, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The National Labor Relations Board had filed unfair labor practice charges against the hospital.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. -- Sharon Regional Health System will pay two former and two current employees more than $80,000 as part of a settlement of unfair labor practice charges stemming from unionizing activities at the hospital.

The settlement was worked out with the Pittsburgh office of the National Labor Relations Board, which filed a complaint against the hospital in September. The Service Employees International Union also is a party to the agreement.

Hospital spokesman Ed Newmeyer, director of marketing and community relations, confirmed the settlement.

"We believe that the interests of the health system and of all other parties involved in bringing this matter to a close were accommodated by the settlement," he said in a prepared statement.

Gerald Kobell, regional NLRB director, said he and representatives of the hospital and SEIU signed the agreement, making it official.

Stipulations: In addition to the cash payments, the hospital agreed to a number of stipulations that will prevent it from taking certain action to discourage future union organizing efforts.

Virginia Bullard, SEIU Local 627 organizer, said her union plans to renew those efforts in about a month.

The SEIU tried to organize service, clerical and nonprofessional employees last year but lost a representation election in February in a 360-183 vote.

The union claimed, however, that there were certain unfair labor practices by the hospital and took its case to the NLRB, which filed a complaint against the hospital.

The complaint accused the hospital of firing Robert Wojtanowski and Robin Mortimer, both employees of the physical therapy department, and Robert Bechtel, a maintenance employee, for their efforts on behalf of SEIU and unfairly cut the work hours of Frank DiClaudio, a security guard, for his efforts on behalf of the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America union.

The hospital guards voted to join that union in March 2001.

The deal: The settlement awards Wojtanowski $58,000 in back pay and severance pay, Mortimer $12,708 in back pay, Bechtel $11,424 in back pay and DiClaudio $369 in lost wages.

It also expunged any employee records showing disciplinary action taken against them in relation to this case and gives Bechtel back his job immediately.

Wojtanowski and Mortimer waived any claim for reinstatement.

Bullard said the settlement also clears the records of Erin Wojtanowski, wife of Robert and an employee of the occupational therapy department, and Richard Story, another security guard.

As part of the agreement, the hospital is required to post a 60-day notice on all employee bulletin boards announcing the settlement and promising not to prohibit employees from wearing union insignia while allowing others to wear nonunion insignia.

Further, the hospital must refrain from threatening to close the facility or saying that employees won't get a wage increase if employees vote for union representation, refrain from issuing poor work appraisals to employees because of union activities or membership, and refrain from reducing work shifts or numbers of employees per shift because of union activity or membership.




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