NLRB Approves Union Vote for Loma Linda University Health Residents

On May 16, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that it will hold a union election for resident physicians at the Loma Linda University Health Education Consortium (LLUHEC). The ruling is the culmination of a three-month process that saw LLUHEC challenge the NLRB’s jurisdiction to oversee the unionization effort. In a hearing that took place in March and April, lawyers for LLUHEC argued that it is a Seventh-day Adventist educational institution and therefore can’t be forced to recognize a union vote. LLUHEC also made the case that resident physicians should be classified as students, not employees.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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Do LLU personnel really oppose the prospective union because they either want to align with Ellen’s position on unions of because they don’t want to cede some bargaining power to the residents? Or, alternatively, have they taken their position tongue-in-cheek because as an Adventist institution they are expected to take such a position, even though they see and regret the damage that is happening to work relations as a result?


It infuriates me that LLUHEC is trying to weasel out of doing the right thing by falsely claiming that resident physicians are “students” and not employees. Resident physicians get a paycheck, not a tuition bill.


Once again, hiding behind outdated religious views to disadvantage a vulnerable group is reprehensible. Reminds me of the Merikay Silver lawsuit against Pacific Press, wherein hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on legal fees to attempt to preserve the right of the denomination to discriminate against women. Disgusting!


Another thought. I’m a retired physician, not a lawyer, but my two children are attorneys, so I’ve learned to evaluate information through a new POV. Have the lawyers for LLUHEC who are trying to reclassify residents as “students” thought this through beyond the short-term “solution” of preventing a union formation? They are trying to set a new legal precedent that “students” (and apprentices, and journeymen, etc.) have a wider definition and therefore cannot be union members. I think that labor unions would have thoughts on that effort. This small case may become a morass of negative publicity for LLUHEC and the church.


Another question: There have been cases where Adventist hospitals have been sold once some group of employees organized, such is the determination not to own an institution with a union organization. Would Loma Linda University Medical Center be sold if this organizing effort is successful?

I easily recall former Loma Linda president G. T. Anderson in my office after he retired lamenting the usual SDA stance on labor unions. As a historian, he was convinced that today’s labor unions, though far from perfect as are many corporations, are not identical to the ones EGW knew. As an administrator, he believed that in the long run it is better to welcome responsible labor unions and appropriately involve them in the institution’s life. Again, this is what he expressed to me in his retirement years. I do not know how long they had been his views.


As a professor emeritus of religion who spent over 4 decades happily teaching medical ethics to thousands of students, LLU’s position is deeply disappointing–for at least three reasons. The stance:
A. Fails to embody its church’s dynamic tradition of “progressive revelation” and spirit of anti-creedalism in its fight again medical residents’ unionization.
B. Violates LLU’s core value of “justice,” defined in part as “efforts to reverse systemic barriers.”
C. Strains credulity that a principled LLU would hire one of the nation’s most costly legal firms to thereby continue its practice of paying substandard wages to residents who faithfully implement the LLU motto of furthering “the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”


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