The National Labor Relations Board threw out yesterday a precedent-setting labor union victory won recently by the Teamsters union at Alexandria Hospital and ordered a new election on Jan. 10.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters won its first organizing effort among Washington area hospital workers Oct. 19 when a majority of Alexandria Hospital's service and maintenance employes chose the union as its bargaining agent. The Teamsters became the first union to represent kworkers at any hospital in Northern Virginia, and vowed to use the victory as a "stepping stone" in similar efforts at other area hospitals.
But yesterday NLRB officials informed representatives of the 44-bed hospital and Teamster Local 246 that the union had violated an NLRB rule against last minute electioneering because hospital employes had received campaign literature through the mail on the same day the election was held.
As a result, the bitter and hard-fought election was rescheduled for January, according to hospital spokesman Dave Norcross and union local head Ben Hylton.
"We will be eating, living, and practically sleeping at the hospital from now on," said Hylton. "We will do everything we can to convince those employes to vote for us again," he said.
The hospital issued a statement saying it was pleased with NLRB decision "because those in the bargaining unit will have a new opportunity to cast a vote with the benefit of all available facts and without any misconceptions."
The flier mailed by the Teamsters Oct. 17 contained the union's campaign statements on the subject of health care contributions. In the flier, the Teamsters claimed that the hospital contributed $27.12 per employe per month to their health care plan. The union promised, if elected as the bargaining agent, to try to raise that contribution to $112 each month, according to Hylton.
Hospital spokesman Norcross said yesterday the union had misrepresented its health care contribution, which he said is about $60 per employe per month.
The question of job security for the hospital's estimated 500 maintenance and service personnel was also a major factor in the election. Hylton and Norcross agreed. Last July Alexandria fired 30 employes to offset an anticipated deficit of $4 million, Norcross said at the time.
Yesterday he said that because of economy moves within the hospital and a slight increase in patient loads the deficit for this year will be only about $83,000.
Hylton said "job security remains the major issue in the election." Much of the $6,000 the union plans to spend on the campaign will be spent to convince employes their jobs will be more secure if the union represents them, according to Hylton.
On the basis of its success at Alexandria Hospital, located on Seminary Road, the Teamsters began a concentrated effort to organize the 1200 workers at the 350-bed Arlington Hospital. Those efforts were abruptly canceled last month when the union determined that "there was not enough interest on the part of employes there," Hylton said.
The union was more successful last month when it was chosen bargaining agent for 70 employees at the Masonic and Eastern Star Nursing Home in the District of Columbia, Hylton said. That election is also being protested to the NLRB, added.
The Teamsters need a simple majority of those voting to win again at Alexandria Hospital. Last Oct. 19 the vote was 210 for Teamsters, 149 against them, with two challenged ballots, and three that contained no votes.
Other unions that represent hospital employees in the District of Columbia and Maryland include the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the District of Columbia Nurses Association, and the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, District 1199.