Archived Story

KDMC claims harassing phone calls

Published 9:45am Thursday, January 6, 2011

ASHLAND, Ky. — King’s Daughters Medical Center is suing a local union that represents more than 600 of its employees, claiming it is trying to harass the hospital’s CEO.

The complaint against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) District 1199 was filed on Dec. 29, the day before the union voted to reject KDMC’s latest contract offer.

The complaint alleges the union violated federal statutes by causing hundreds of automated telephone calls to be made to KDMC, but the union claimed it was in full compliance with the law.

According to the allegations, in December, “SEIU, through its agents and representatives, and acting in concert with Unknown Defendants, commenced a telephone calling campaign directed at KDMC’s hospital facilities.”

KDMC stated that hundreds of automated calls, or “robo-calls,” as the complaint stated, have been made with the purpose of harassing Fred Jackson, KDMC’s chief executive officer, as well as other employees.

Joyce Gibson, organizational representative for SEUI’s hospital division, said, “The purpose of the calls was to bring awareness to the community and let the community know that the hospital gave out, after they laid everybody off in July of 2010, turned around and gave $1.1 million in bonuses in November to executives at that hospital.”

Gibson also said, “It was to bring the community awareness of what is going on at that hospital in terms of CEO and executive pay when they’re trying to impose wage freezes on healthcare workers who work at that hospital along with eliminating their pension and impose triple healthcare costs and extreme healthcare deductibles out of pocket.”

The automated calls play a pre-recorded message designed to incite the person who answers the phone against KDMC, said the complaint. The message also encourages the listener to press a number to be transferred to Jackson’s extension.

The phone calls were received through the hospital’s main phone line and the complaint stated that KDMC’s call logs identify the calls as originating from only one phone number, a Columbus number believed to be used by SEIU.

The complaint also stated that between 10:45 a.m. on Dec. 28, through 4:46 p.m. on Dec. 29, 536 calls generated by the automated system were placed to Jackson’s extension.

The complaint also stated that these calls obstructed and unlawfully interfered with KDMC’s business operation and its ability to provide medical care and related services to its patients by tying up phone lines for all numbers and extensions within KDMC, including emergency services and other medical departments, patient rooms, security and administration.

On Dec. 30, SEIU voted to reject KDMC’s contact offer of proposed wages and healthcare and pension plans. The union’s contract had expired on Nov. 30.

“We’re in a labor dispute. We’ve been working without a contract since (Nov.) 30,” said Gibson. “And they’re now at the table trying to take from the workers who provide the care there at the hospital.”

A statement issued by KDMC on Wednesday said, “We are pleased that team members represented by the bargaining unit continue to work everyday as scheduled even though the contract expired on Nov. 30.”

The statement also said in regards to the contract negotiations, “We believe it is important to bargain in good faith at the table specific issues related to the contract. We are working with federal and state mediators and hope to have the opportunity to schedule an additional bargaining session very soon to continue to work toward an agreement.”

Gibson said that the union is outraged at the company for trying to take from the workers and called it a problem.

The union gave the hospital its 10-day notice to setup informational pickets when the contract was voted down, and say members will be in front of KDMC at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Gibson also said of the suit, “We’re prepared to defend the suit. It’s nothing new; we’ve done this before.”

The Tribune believes it is possible for people with a variety of points of view to discuss issues in a civil manner and will remove comments that, in our opinion, foster incivility. We want to encourage an open exchange of information and ideas. Responsibility for what is posted or contributed to this site is the sole responsibility of each user. By contributing to this website, you agree not to post any defamatory, abusive, harassing, obscene, sexual, threatening or illegal material, or any other material that infringes on the ability of others to enjoy this site, or that infringes on the rights of others. Any user who feels that a contribution to this website is a violation of these terms of use is encouraged to email, or click the "report comment" link that is on all comments. We reserve the right to remove messages that violate these terms of use and we will make every effort to do so — within a reasonable time frame — if we determine that removal is necessary.

  • rambo

    Well from what I am hearing it is more then the person that sweeps the floor being canned but many that have many years of service and are ones that have the most experience being canned and that includes nurses, practical nurses and any that have can be replaced by the newly hired RN’s etc that have little or no experience. If that does now affect good patient care I am not sure what does. It used to be that KDMC was the top hospital in the area but after having patients returned many times with infections they did not leave with, I wonder about how long this will continue.

    (Report comment)

  • Noesis

    I’m not a big fan of unions even though I’m in one but from hearing what my significant other (She’s an RN) goes through at Promedica, hospitals really need unions. She hardly ever gets a chance to eat lunch during a 12 hour shift or has time to use the restroom, she has to empty trash, change bedsheets, get pillows, blankets and food for the parents (she works at a children’s hospital), works a wing by herself, turnover time isn’t paid, any online classes have to be done at home and aren’t paid…

    (Report comment)

  • AC01

    the union is a joke.. what kind of group will stand outside a building and make all kinds of noise while patients are trying to rest and get better. these dead beats have no consideration for anyone other than themselves. They are a joke and a waste of time…KDMC would be way better off without them..

    (Report comment)

  • Digi

    I personally hate that commercial too that show’s all this stuff supposedly done in 2010 read the small print they are using info from 2009 tax papers. That has NOTHING to do with what is going on now. I agree with local_user. Thugs need tossed out and put people in there that appreciate a job. If I have to walk through a picket line to get care, you can dang well know I will. And if anyone has something to say about it I hope they are ready to hear it from me. I hope no one was put in jeopardy by the phone harassment. I’m sure if it were one of the union folks family in the hospital they wouldn’t like the lines tied up for nonsense!

    (Report comment)

  • Local_user

    I received one of those robo-calls and I knew instantly it was the work of the SEIU thugs. I might have been sympathetic to their cause if they had managed to let me know about it without resorting to thug behavior. I can just see them now kicking some innocent bystander in the head because they dared not join in the protests. It wouldn’t be the first time I saw a SEIU member do that. Only it was multile members kicking the head of an old man. But of course nothing will be done to Obozos union buddies. Well unless you count getting a pat on the back.

    That union violated a dozen federal laws against calling people on the do not call list maintained by the federal government. But guess who will never be prosecuted for it. If the administration won’t prosecute obvious voter intimidation caught on camera then what makes anyone think this group of thugs will be prosecuted?

    The SEIU needs a big dose of reality. I made my complaint to the national do not call registry but I would be shocked to see anything done. A union is not a political or a charitable organization. That means they can’t call me without my permission. And of course they didn’t get it. They also can’t use machines to call me. And they can’t incite actions that are harmful to the public good. They should be prosecuted for these offenses but count on the current administration to sweep it under the rug and ignore it. Count on something else. People will continue to vote to get rid of the union cronies in the government. You’re time is coming and don’t think they won’t go back and prosecute you for this behavior. I hope you spend 10 years in prison for this. You deserve it. You had no right to call me at my home period.

    (Report comment)

  • kdmcemp

    But, some of those let go this summer were non-union workers, such as nurses, that the media conveniently did not report. And, patient care is jeopardized by “janitors, cooks, and maintenance staff” being let go. Who do you think ends up passing and picking up trays and emptying the trash and picking up in the patient’s rooms when there is no one else to do it? The nursing staff. We are already short staffed, with patient to nurse ratio dangerously high on some units. They are lucky to get their medications on time most days…let alone anything else. We need our housekeepers and dietary employees!

    (Report comment)

  • Mcfly85

    Union members are not “healthcare providers” they are janitors, cooks, and maintenance staff. The care of patients is not being jeopardized by laying off the guy who sweeps the floor.

    (Report comment)

Editor's Picks