HELENA — LaborLab, a union watchdog organization, has filed a formal complaint against St. Peter’s Health over consultant, Edward Niles Commer, claiming the consultant violated Labor Management Relations and Disclosure Act.
“Yesterday we found out that St. Peter’s Heath had hired an out-of-state union buster, from Florida, to come in and start meeting with nurses,” said Bob Funk, Executive Director of LaborLab.
Funk says Commer was hired this week by St. Peter’s to directly engage with nurses who are actively seeking to form a union.
The complaint accuses Commer of initiating direct meetings with registered nurses with the aim of dissuading them from pursuing unionization efforts.
“LMRDA was put in place in 1959, and what it does is guarantees all workers the transparency that they’re entitled to,” Funk said.
Funk says the law is designed to ensure workers are provided with information to help safeguard their rights during labor processes.
Commer is accused of violating disclosure rules by failing to file necessary reports to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Labor relations consultants are required to disclose any agreements or arrangements made with employers to influence employees organizing rights.
We reached out to St. Peters Health, in a statement the hospital denied that a violation had occurred related to hiring Commer:
“No violation has occurred under the Labor Management Relations and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) related to the hiring of labor educator Niles Commer. By law, St. Peter’s Health and Mr. Commer are well within their respective timelines to file the required disclosures. This allegation is a typical union tactic to spread misinformation and discredit the employer in an attempt to gain support in advance of an election.
Further, it is standard practice around the country for employers to engage the services of an outside expert when their employees have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Known as labor educators, these individuals have extensive knowledge of unions and labor laws, and they are considered a neutral resource for employees who feel more comfortable getting their information from a third-party instead of the organization or the union. St. Peter’s has openly disclosed hiring a labor educator with its clinic nurses as an investment the organization is making to ensure they have access to fact-based information in making an informed decision.”
Funk says his organization is concerned about potential misrepresentation.
“The next move is they follow-up with St. Peter’s Health, say your consultant has to file this paperwork immediately, get it done, but we are interested in, there are also civil and criminal penalties in the LMRDA for intentional misrepresentation,” said Funk.
Read the full complaint from LaborLab.