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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

NLRB vacates ruling favoring GW Hospital over union, will rehear case

Lydia Embry | Photographer
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced last year that the GW Hospital would expand to Southeast D.C. and hold up to 196 beds beginning in fall 2024.

The National Labor Relations Board vacated a previous ruling that favored GW Hospital over its employees in a labor dispute.

The NLRB, in a 2-1 vote on Tuesday, vacated a May 2021 ruling that claimed the GW Hospital did not violate labor law while engaging in “hard bargaining” during contract negotiations with a union from November 2016 to October 2018. The new NLRB vote rejects the original ruling because William Emanuel — a former NLRB member who voted in favor of the 2021 ruling — had an undisclosed stake in a mutual fund that invested in Universal Health Services, the parent company of the hospital.

The Tuesday vote rules that Emanuel should not have been eligible to vote on the original decision, making it void. The NLRB will rehear the case at a later date.

“We will vacate the board’s prior decision and order in this case and proceed to readjudicate the issues addressed there,” the decision states.

A GW Hospital spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. William Emanuel could not be reached for comment.

In 2019, 1199 Service Employees International Union, a union that represented over 150 employees of the hospital for more than 20 years, filed an unfair labor practice charge against the hospital following failed negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement. The union alleged that the hospital engaged in “bad faith” negotiations by opening bargaining with a “wish list” proposal and ceasing to recognize the union in October 2018. An administrative law judge ruled in favor of 1199 SEIU in September 2019, but the NLRB overturned the decision in May 2021.

Lisa Brown, the executive vice president of 1199 SEIU in Maryland and the District, said in an email statement that the NLRB’s move to vacate the previous decision was a “tremendous win.” She said many GW Hospital workers have lacked union representation since the hospital stopped recognizing 1199 SEIU.

“They deserve the opportunity to secure their union without fear of retaliation,” Brown said.

NLRB Chair Lauren McFerran and NLRB member David Prouty wrote in the majority opinion for the decision that not vacating the 2021 decision would set a dangerous precedent by ignoring that an NLRB member “improperly” participated in the ruling, which could “undermine” public trust in the NLRB’s decision-making abilities.

“We simply try to see the situation presented here from the perspective of the public,” the majority opinion states.

The NLRB has vacated three other decisions involving Emanuel that they said he should not have participated in due to financial conflict, including a decision favoring Exxon Mobil Corporation in August 2022, CVS in October 2022 and Marathon Petroleum Corporation in February.

NLRB member Marvin Kaplan dissented in the decision and said he believes Emanuel was unaware of his conflicting investment in UHS and that his “ethical failure” posed no risk to the integrity of the decision.

“Although I do not believe that my colleagues have a basis for contending that his breach of duty was criminal, it was undeniably serious,” Kaplan said.

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