NLRB Rule Will Lead to Higher Costs for Senior Living Providers, Fragmented Care for Residents

The National Labor Relations Boards final rule published last week will compromise both employee and employer rights and lead to higher costs and fragmented services for senior living residents says the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA).

“The NLRB decisions seem timed to present a big Labor Day gift to organized labor at the expense of senior living employees, employers and the residents and family members they serve,” said Richard P. Grimes, president and CEO of ALFA. “The NLRB continues to produce unprecedented decisions that alter carefully balanced rules that employers have followed for years. The changes resulting from the decisions will make serving seniors more complex and expensive with no benefit to anyone except big unions.”

The rule requires that employers put notices on bulletin boards about employees their rights to unionize under federal law. The NLRB also voted 3-1 to change the way it determines the bargaining units in Senior Living and Long Term Care Health Care industries.

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Until now, unions generally had to show sufficient interest among all service employees in a senior living community in order to successfully petition for an election says ALFA.  Under the new rule, unions may be may be able to call for an election among employees in a single job classification, such as caregivers or housekeepers or food service employees.  The trade group says it could lead to several bargaining units within a single senior living community, each represented by a different union that could negotiate its own contract with a senior living community.

“This is a wrong decision for senior living communities, their employees and the residents they serve,” said Grimes. “Allowing organized labor to unionize these fragmented groups of employees will raise the cost of doing business, raise the rates for seniors in our care—and worse—cause divisiveness among the staff who should always remain focused on advancing quality of life for the seniors they serve.”

NLRB Member Hayes, in dissenting from the NLRB decision, described the decision as contrary to Congressional intent, stating that it “essentially nullifies the Board’s practice of taking guidance from legislative history cautioning against proliferation of (bargaining) units in the healthcare industry.”

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In the other case, Lamons Gasket, the NLRB voted 3-1 to reverse a previous decision that allowed a secret ballot election even when an employer and organized labor previously agreed to form a union. That is, beginning now, employees do not have the right to a secret ballot to vote for or against a union if labor and management agree to allow a union based solely upon signed union cards.

“ALFA believes that the secret ballot election is the gold standard, as the NLRB has recognized in the past, and we disagree with any decisions that would limit or remove employees’ rights to make an informed choice in an official, NLRB-supervised secret ballot election,” said Grimes.

Written by John Yedinak

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