NYC Health + Hospitals’ argument that an Assistant Director of Nursing who was terminated was a managerial employee not eligible for collective bargaining rights was rejected by the Office of Collective Bargaining, allowing her to continue her fight to be reinstated and receive back pay.
In 2017, Letitia Biggs began organizing members after she found out that the Organization of Staff Analysts was working to add NYC H+H associate and assistant director titles to its bargaining unit. But when she was fired in January 2018 for “failing to meet certain performance goals,” Ms. Biggs and the OSA filed an improper-practice petition with the Board of Collective Bargaining.
The union argued that she was terminated in retaliation for union organizing. Bob Croghan, chair of the Organization of Staff Analysts, said that she began to get flak from her bosses regarding her union activities.
“She was very anxious to organize. The interesting thing is that HHC never came up with any reason why she was fired,” he said during a phone interview.
Stephanie M. Guzmán, a spokeswoman for NYC H+H, declined to comment because of pending litigation.
H+H argued that Ms. Biggs did not have the right to file the petition because she was a managerial staff member who didn’t have collective-bargaining rights. According to the city Collective Bargaining Law, employees may be classified as managerial only if they establish policy, assist in collective negotiations, or have a “major” role in personnel administration that is not clerical.
In August, the Board, which is OCB’s adjudication arm, passed the matter on to the agency to determine whether Ms. Biggs was in a managerial title.
H+H Argument Fails
NYC H+H argued that it classified Assistant Directors of Nursing as a Group 11 managerial title, and that the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Act outlined more exclusions regarding the right to representation than the city’s collective bargaining law did, according to the case document.
But OCB stated that “an employer’s classification of a public employee is not determinative of an employee’s rights.” It found that Ms. Biggs’ primary job duties, including assisting patients with paperwork, verifying their insurance coverage, and processing referrals, were non-managerial.
Her record also showed that she did not participate in any collective-bargaining negotiations or make budgetary or personnel decisions, according to the decision. On Nov. 13, OCB concluded that she was neither a managerial nor a confidential employee, and referred the case back to the BCB to determine whether Ms. Biggs should be reinstated.
‘Tries to Prevent Unionizing’
Mr. Croghan called OCB’s ruling “a very good decision,” and noted that this was far from the city’s first attempt to classify a title as managerial that wasn’t.
“HHC does things like this to prevent unionization,” he said. “It’s awful, and wrong for the employees and the patients. It infuriates me that I have to spend so much time rolling the rock up the hill on this issue.”
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