The Kansas University Medical Center and KU Nurses Assn. are locked in a dispute over an attempt by KUMC to exclude 26 assistant head nurses from a new nurses' union.
Cece Atherton, KUNA vice president, said the move was a calculated effort to slow formation of a collective bargaining unit at the hospital in Kansas City, Kan.
"Absolutely not," said Jackie McClain, personnel services director at KUMC, when told of Atherton's comment. "This is the appropriate time to address this issue."
The Public Employee Relations Board ruled last year that 640 nurses designated as a Nurse I, Nurse II or Licensed Practical Nurse are eligible for union membership.
However, KUMC is challenging inclusion of 26 Nurse IIs. McClain said they perform supervisory duties of a head nurse. PERB prohibits head nurses from joining.
UNION AND medical center officials will argue their positions early next month during a hearing at the medical center before a PERB official, McClain said.
Last year, another membership dispute was resolved at a PERB hearing. KUMC tried to keep 115 part-time nurses and 10 nurse specialists out of the bargaining unit.
PERB ruled part-time nurses can join the union. He excluded the nurse specialists, who aren't members of the state's classified employee system.
Atherton said KUMC's proposal to leave out part-time nurses was an effort to weaken the union. McClain said nurses working part-time shouldn't get full-time benefits.
IN JUNE, KUNA filed a request with PERB to represent nurses at the center. Their complaints included low salaries and poor communication with administrators. After a hearing in October and the membership ruling in December, PERB asked for a "show of interest" by at least 30 percent of eligible nurses.
McClain said PERB informed her Monday that the required showing of interest has been verified. A letter to that effect hadn't reached her office, she said.
A vote to determine whether KUNA will be bargaining agent for nurses hasn't been scheduled. But the dispute over the 26 nurses shouldn't delay the vote, Atherton said.
If KUNA is successful, administrators must meet with KUNA to discuss grievances and work issues, including salary. Kansas law prohibits strikes by public employees.