An Alameda County Superior Court Commissioner this afternoon vacated a temporary restraining order that the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee had obtained last week against the Service Employees International Union. The SEIU put out a news release claiming victory:
“For months, CNA leaders have made inaccurate and exaggerated claims trying to cover up their own anti-union tactics in Ohio and other states. They have produced doctored ‘evidence,’ they have made phony allegations and they have cried wolf,” said Andy Stern, SEIU International President. “Today’s court decision shows the public what the CNA is really about, but that’s little comfort for the thousands of Ohio nurses and hospital workers who saw their dreams of forming a union destroyed by the CNA. It’s time Rose Ann DeMoro and the CNA wake up and apologize to the workers they hurt.”
CNA spokesman Chuck Idelson told me the order to vacate the TRO was based mainly on the SEIU’s contention that labor law pre-empts the court’s authority in a matter such as this, not on the facts of the case.
“That’s clearly what the decision is referencing: There’s uncertainty about the jurisdiction,” Idelson said, adding it’s “disgraceful to hide stalking and harassment behind the important protections of labor law.”
Court Commissioner Jon Rantzman’s order also says, however, that “the relief sought in the petition is not supported by the declarations submitted with it.”
Idelson sent out a news release moments later:
“The TRO gave the nurses a few days reprieve from harassment,” said Geri Jenkins, RN, a member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents who said she had six SEIUers make a stalking visit to her home.
“Nothing in today’s ruling should be construed as a license to continue behavior and a pattern of threats and harassment that has become an SEIU trademark,” said Jenkins.
“Hopefully Stern and SEIU will use this opportunity to learn from this experience that it is time for them to respect nurses, that their deplorable behavior is not acceptable and does not enhance their reputation or their credibility,” Jenkins said.
So each union is telling the other to wake up, apologize, reconsider. Fat chance.
This war — with the SEIU accusing the CNA/NNOC of trying to poach SEIU’s current or potential nurse members, and the CNA/NNOC accusing SEIU teams of stalking and harassing CNA/NNOC leaders at their homes and workplaces as well as at a recent labor convention in Michigan — predated the court action and will outlast it as well. Not that the court action is finished, however: There’ll be a June 4 hearing on the SEIU’s anti-SLAPP (stratetic lawsuit against public participation) motion, in which SEIU claims CNA sought the restraining order to squelch SEIU’s free-speech and organizing rights. A win there would let SEIU collect attorney’s fees from its rival union.