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Judge rules that union grievance against Children’s Hospital’s flu vaccination policy is legit

January 15, 2010 - 5:44 pm

A court battle over a mandatory flu vaccination policy at Rady Children’s Hospital has come to an end.

Well, almost.

Today, U.S. District Judge Michael Anello ruled in favor of the United Nurses of Children’s Hospital (UNOCH), the hospital’s nurses and technicians union, granting its motion to compel arbitration of a grievance the union filed in November against a policy mandating that hospital employees receive H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccinations or wear surgical masks and green name badges.

(Download the court’s ruling here.)

As CityBeat reported this week—following-up on a November blog post—UNOCH says the hospital violated the union’s collective bargaining agreement by unilaterally instituting a policy that, the union says, violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule, the federal law protecting the medical privacy of U.S. citizens. The hospital says that the collective bargaining agreement contains no provisions for a vaccination policy, hence it had no obligation to arbitrate the union’s grievance. The judge, however, concluded that the “proper exercise of the Hospital’s management rights is open to interpretation and best determined by an arbitrator.”

The masks and badges will stay on for now, but UNOCH Executive Director Nicole Kennelly said that the union will appeal a mid-December ruling against the union’s request for a stay on the policy.

“We’re very excited about this,” Kennelly told CityBeat. “They think that ‘management rights’ means ‘I can do anything I want to do,’ and they just failed to recognize that there’s a collective bargaining agreement. Fortunately, there are people that do recognize there’s a collective bargaining agreement.”

Ben Metcalf, a hospital spokesman, declined to comment on the ruling. Robert Stone, the hospital’s lawyer, did not respond to a call seeking comment.

The current case deals solely with how the policy was implemented, but questions remain about the legality of the policy itself, which experts say is questionable at best.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    January 18, 2010 - 8:25 am 8:25 am

    Hey, no one can tell us what to do!!!
    Who cares if we infect little kids suffering from cancer or leukemia.
    Screw them little bastards.
    I’m not going to wear a mask at work!

    • Anonymous permalink
      January 18, 2010 - 11:17 am 11:17 am

      You’re uninformed. They will still be wearing masks during patient care, but not while they’re on break or at a meeting.

      • Anonymous permalink
        January 18, 2010 - 1:14 pm 1:14 pm

        Hey, no one can tell us what to do!!!
        Who cares if we infect our coworkers.
        Screw them bastards.
        I’m not going to wear a mask at work!

  2. Anonymous permalink
    January 18, 2010 - 1:45 pm 1:45 pm

    You’re contagious before symptoms, therefore, if you really care about patients and coworkers, you believe that EVERYONE should be wearing a mask, not just those you think have been immunized. I asked every person that I worked with that had the flu, if they had been given a flu shot. All of them said yes. And they were all at work before their symptoms appeared, without a mask. And there is no screening at all for visitors.

    • Anonymous permalink
      January 18, 2010 - 1:56 pm 1:56 pm

      Oh yeah, masks are useless after 30 minutes. And, oh yeah, Rady’s is not giving out the correct kind of mask.

      • ANON permalink
        February 7, 2010 - 12:12 am 12:12 am

        Well…..that is true.

  3. concerned RN permalink
    January 18, 2010 - 5:56 pm 5:56 pm

    Yes, this is all done under the guise of “protecting patients” but everyone knows its really about the $ and politics of the hospital. The vaccines are only 50% effective, the masks do not protect either party, and doctors and visitors are somehow magically immune from spreading anything as they do not have to undergo the discrimination nurses are being put through. Another big hospital on a big power trip. Surprise. Surprise.

    • Anonymous permalink
      January 19, 2010 - 8:25 am 8:25 am

      Hey dumbasses.
      The shots were free at Childrens!

      It’s just your liberal mentality that “no one’s gonna tell ME what I have to do”.

      Get over it.

      Hopefully, when the H6N1 comes around, your attitude will enable you to catch it. That’s the one that kills within 24 hrs.

      • LET FREEDOM RING permalink
        January 28, 2010 - 12:46 am 12:46 am

        Wow! Hopefully you don’t actually work with children. One might wonder what impression you’re leaving on them.

      • Not against vaccine's permalink
        January 28, 2010 - 12:53 am 12:53 am

        Do you mean that crazy liberal mentality….like our country’s founder’s who stood up for what was right?

      • Anonymous permalink
        February 2, 2010 - 4:42 pm 4:42 pm

        You really need some help. Maybe all of those vaccines you keep injecting into your body without question have made you a complete angry nutcase. And I’d much rather be liberal than be you.

      • MitziInCardio permalink
        February 2, 2010 - 8:22 pm 8:22 pm

        If you so proud of your stance on vaccines and your command of the English language, why not publish your real name. As a matter of fact, why don’t you take your meds and come visit me over in Cardiology. Then you can call me an idiot in person and maybe we can discuss this issue as adults, or, based on your responses, maybe not…

  4. Anonymous permalink
    January 19, 2010 - 8:12 pm 8:12 pm

    You’re not getting the point, perhaps it’s because you’re an idiot. No one said we had to pay for flu shots, but they have never been proven safe or effective. By the way, there has been no H1N1 epidemic, and even if you do get it, you have a 1 in 10,000 chance of dying from it. That to me is not worth the risk of injecting some mass-produced, government experiment into my otherwise healthy body. I’m so sorry that my liberal, open-minded, and well-informed brain disagrees with yours. I hope you always do what you’re told, just like every good Nazi.

    • February 8, 2010 - 11:35 am 11:35 am

      So, a negative proves what? I’m assuming, based on your comments that you’re a nurse and have some basic level of scientific training, right?

      What you’re saying is that because the vaccine has never been proven safe, it’s therefore not safe? Is that sound scientific reasoning?

      • Brent permalink
        February 8, 2010 - 11:01 pm 11:01 pm

        Ummm……what exactly are you trying to say Justin? I’m confused.

      • February 20, 2010 - 5:35 pm 5:35 pm

        That’s exactly what I mean. Sound science is proving a drug, in this case a vaccine, is both safe and effective. Normally, drug companies test and retest their drugs for years before they are proven safe and effective. Remember Thalidamide?

        • February 22, 2010 - 7:59 pm 7:59 pm

          So, that the H1N1 vaccine is functionally identical to the seasonal flu vaccine, down to the point that it is manufactured the same way — means what? Do you get the seasonal flu shot? By the logic I’m reading here, it’s not safe either — because it’s actually manufactured with a different flu strain every year.

  5. For the people permalink
    January 28, 2010 - 12:02 am 12:02 am

    There’s nothing more frightening, dangerous or infectious than someone whom has been vaccinated against the flu who then comes to work ill under the assumption that they couldn’t possibly be sick with the flu because they were vaccinated.

    • Anonymous permalink
      February 2, 2010 - 4:38 pm 4:38 pm

      Well said! Thank you.

  6. For the people permalink
    January 28, 2010 - 12:12 am 12:12 am

    Anyone can be shedding flu virus before they even know they’re sick—regardless of whether or not one has received the flu vaccine. This is well documented, and therefore demonstrates the obvious futility in choosing to single out a group of individuals for what is deemed infection control measures.

  7. wondering1 permalink
    February 11, 2010 - 4:52 pm 4:52 pm

    Just wondering–do any of you know of employees that were terminated because of not being able to wear the mandated surgical mask?

    • February 20, 2010 - 5:41 pm 5:41 pm

      I do not know of anyone that was fired. Everyone that refused the flu shot has been reluctantly wearing a mask. I know of several employees who got the flu shot against their will, because they felt they would be fired otherwise.

      • wondering1 permalink
        February 21, 2010 - 10:22 am 10:22 am

        FYI. If you ask around, you’ll find that there were people who were terminated.

        • February 21, 2010 - 7:41 pm 7:41 pm

          I hope they are union members and filed a grievance.

          • wondering1 permalink
            February 22, 2010 - 7:55 am 7:55 am

            Unfortunately, not union members.

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