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Federal judge orders Oakland nursing home to rehire workers following strike

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered an Oakland nursing home to offer reinstatement to 26 employees who were replaced during a week-long strike, and to stop enforcing its no-access rule in a way that discriminates against union activity, at the request of the National Labor Relations Board.

In issuing the temporary injunction on July 19, Judge Claudia Wilken of the Northern District of California agreed with NLRB Regional Director William Baudler that reinstating the workers "is necessary to reassure current employees that they may support the Union without fearing retaliation" by their employer at Piedmont Gardens, owned by the American Baptist Homes of the West.

About 100 employees at Piedmont Gardens are represented by the Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers-West. Following the expiration of their latest collective bargaining agreement in the spring, and after unsuccessful negotiations to secure a new agreement, members of the union voted to stage a week-long strike. During the strike vote, Piedmont Garden supervisors escorted several employee/union members from the room because they were not on-duty, although on other occasions off-duty workers were allowed in the room.

During the strike, the employer permanently hired some of the temporary workers who filled in for striking workers, and so many union members were unable to return to work despite offering unconditionally to do so. Although employers may hire permanent replacement workers during a strike, they may not do so for unlawful reasons. The Regional Director maintained that the reasons were unlawful in this case, and Judge Wilken found that he was likely to prevail in that argument before the Board. The injunction is to remain in place until that process is finished.

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