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February 1, 2002


CHICAGO - Physicians for Responsible Negotiation (PRN), the labor organization formed by the American Medical Association, scored a major victory this week as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that a group of New Jersey physicians represented by PRN are employees, not supervisors, within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The ruling offers needed clarification in wake of last year's NLRB v. Kentucky River Supreme Court decision that led some observers to conclude that physicians were "supervisors" and not eligible to collectively bargain, said Susan Adelman, MD, President of PRN.

"PRN is proud to be the first labor organization in the county to obtain an NLRB determination on which physicians continue to have collective bargaining rights in light of last year's Supreme Court decision," she said. "This decision sends a message to employers that they can not label all physicians "supervisors" under the shield of Kentucky River to preclude collective bargaining."

In August, 2000, the NLRB determined that the New Jersey physicians employed by Occupational Health Centers of New Jersey and Concentra Managed Care, Inc., were not supervisors and ordered an election so the group could vote on whether to have PRN represent them for purposes of collective bargaining. The employers requested a full NLRB review of that decision and, on September 28, 2000, the date of the election, the full NLRB granted that request for review. The ballots were then sealed and uncounted pending a decision from the full NLRB.

The case was under consideration by the full NLRB when the US Supreme Court issued the Kentucky River v. NLRB decision in May, 2001, which set a new standard for determining supervisory status. In June, 2001, the NLRB remanded the PRN case against Concentra back to the NLRB Regional Director in Newark, N.J., to consider the facts under the new standard: whether the physicians "assign" and "responsibly direct" other employees and the scope of degree of "independent judgment" used in the exercise of such authority. The hearing began on July 18, 2001 and concluded on August 17, 2001. The Committee of Interns and Residents (an affiliate of the AFL-CIO) submitted an amicus brief in support of PRN's position that none of the physicians are supervisors. On January 31, 2002, the NLRB concluded again that the physicians are not supervisors. Concentra has until February 11, 2002 to request that the full NLRB review this decision.

Dr. Adelman commended the physicians for their commitment and stamina throughout the long process. "Despite the employers' resistance to collective bargaining, these physicians have demonstrated extreme confidence and leadership in accomplishing goals that will benefit patients and physicians throughout the United States," Dr. Adelman said.

For more information, please contact:
Mike Lynch

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