I’ve come across a number of posts on the CNA Facebook pages that express frustration over LTC managers not responding to caregiver concerns regarding their working conditions. If you’ve already raised an issue as an individual through the normal lines of communication within your facility and feel like you’re not being heard, there is something else you can do. It’s an option that most caregivers – and perhaps many LTC managers – are not aware of.
It’s called “Protected Concerted Activity.” This is involves a Federal labor law that protects your right to act together with other employees to improve your pay and working conditions – with or without a union. This means you can collaborate with your coworkers and voice your concerns as a group and your employer cannot punish you for acting as a group.
According to the National Labor Relations Board website: “If employees are fired, suspended, or otherwise penalized for taking part in protected group activity, the National Labor Relations Board will fight to restore what was unlawfully taken away. These rights were written into the original 1935 National Labor Relations Act and have been upheld in numerous decisions by appellate courts and by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The law does not cover all concerted activity. Again, from the NLRB website:
“Whether or not concerted activity is protected depends on the facts of the case. If you have questions, please contact an Information Officer at your nearest NLRB Regional Office, which you can find on this page or by calling 1-866-667-NLRB. The Information Officer will focus on three questions:
Is the activity concerted?
Generally, this requires two or more employees acting together to improve wages or working conditions, but the action of a single employee may be considered concerted if he or she involves co-workers before acting, or acts on behalf of others.
Does it seek to benefit other employees?
Will the improvements sought – whether in pay, hours, safety, workload, or other terms of employment – benefit more than just the employee taking action? Or is the action more along the lines of a personal gripe, which is not protected?
Is it carried out in a way that causes it to lose protection?
Reckless or malicious behavior, such as sabotaging equipment, threatening violence, spreading lies about a product, or revealing trade secrets, may cause concerted activity to lose its protection.”
I am not qualified to give any kind of legal advice and this post is for informational purposes only. I would urge anyone considering concerted activity to do their homework first. Check out the NRLB website www.nlrb.gov (click on the “Rights We Protect” tab) and also speak to a NRLB Information Officer (1-866-667-NLRB).
Since our work involves residents we have to be careful not to violate their rights while we assert ours. However, there are many instances when the two overlap. In particular, I’m thinking concerted activity may be useful for issues regarding things like access to proper equipment and the availability of adequate supplies.
If you’ve already raised an issue and you feel your concerns are not being properly addressed, you may want to consider exploring your right to protected concerted activity. Sometimes it takes a group.