Mountainside Hospital is a voluntary non-profit hospital located in Montclair, New Jersey. Local 1199 of the Drug & Hospital Employees Union seeks to compel the defendant hospital to recognize it as the collective bargaining representative for the service and maintenance personnel of the hospital numbering about 412 employees or in the alternative, to compel a representation election among such employees to determine whether there will be an authorized bargaining representative for them. Local 68 of the International Union of Operating Engineers contends that it represents a majority of the maintenance employees whose total number is about 38 and likewise seeks to compel either recognition by the hospital or a representation election.
While the hospital may prefer to continue without the intervention of any union, nevertheless, it realistically recognizes the inevitability of a union election involving these employees and, assuming that event, argues that it should not be compelled to deal with more than one union. The hospital is apprehensive about the fragmentation of its employees into more than one bargaining group. It foresees an increased burden to its administrative staff and the possibility of friction between competing labor organizations with resultant discord amongst employees, all of which will jeopardize the continuity and quality of the services it renders to the community.
As a consequence, the narrow issue for decision is whether the maintenance employees sought to be represented by Local 68 shall be carved out of the broader service and maintenance group sought to be represented by Local 1199. The defendant hospital urges that an election should only be ordered for the most appropriate bargaining unit which it contends is the overall service and maintenance group. Thus, the court is called upon to determine whether there may be more than one appropriate collective bargaining unit for the broad category of service and maintenance employees of a voluntary non-profit hospital.
Article I, paragraph 19 of the Constitution of New Jersey, 1947 provides: "Persons in private employment shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively." By virtue of this authority courts of this State have the power to order a representation election and to require a private non-profit hospital to bargain collectively with a designated collective bargaining representative, even though employees in a private non-profit hospital such as the defendant are expressly excluded from the scope of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq. Johnson v. Christ Hospital , 84 N.J. Super. 541, 548 (Ch. Div. 1964) aff'd 45 N.J. 108, 110 (1965); Bowman v. Hackensack Hospital Associates , 116 N.J. Super. 260 (Ch. Div. 1971). Note also that such employees are outside the scope of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, Chapter 303 of the Laws of 1968, 34 N.J.S.A. 13A-1 et seq. , as said Act applies only to public employees.
In the absence of controlling legislation establishing the standard and test required to determine the appropriateness of a collective bargaining unit with respect to voluntary non-profit hospitals, courts may refer to the case law of this jurisdiction and the body of labor law that has developed in both the federal and various state jurisdictions. Johnson v. Christ Hospital, supra; Bowman v. Hackensack Hospital, supra.
In Morand Bros. Beverage Co. , 91 N.L.R.B. No. 58, 26 LRRM 1501 (1950) the National Labor Relations Board ruled that there is no requirement under the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act that a bargaining unit must be the only appropriate unit, or the ultimate unit, or the most appropriate unit, the only requirement being that the unit must be an appropriate unit to insure to employees, in each particular case, the fullest freedom in exercising the rights guaranteed to them by the National Labor Relations Act. State labor relations boards in both New York and Pennsylvania observe the same standard. Thus, where an application was made by a union to act as
the bargaining representative for the combined group of service and maintenance employees in a voluntary non-profit hospital, such combined group was found to be an appropriate unit, absent a similar application for a portion of the group by a competing union. St. John's Queens Hosp. , 26 SLRB 529 (1963); Hayes Seventy Third Corp. Physicians Hosp. , 26 SLRB 428 (1963). On the other hand, where union organizations have vied to represent the service and maintenance employees as separate bargaining units, the division of these employees into separate units has likewise been found appropriate. Long Island College Hospital v. Local 1199 , 32 SLRB 210 (1969); Mercy Hospital of Buffalo v. International Union Operating Engineers, Local 907 , 31 SLRB 347 (1968); Long Island College Hospital v. Maintenance Division of the Bldg. & Const. Trades , 27 SLRB 406 (1964); Wyckoff Heights Hospital , 27 SLRB 75 (1963); See in Re Employees of the Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital of Philadelphia , No. Pera-R-28-E (Pa. L.R. Bd. 1971). In other words, while the combination of service and maintenance employees into one unit for collective bargaining purposes may produce an appropriate unit, such fact does not preclude the alternative of separating each group into individual bargaining units under suitable circumstances.*fn1
The National Labor Relations Board sets forth the criteria for determining the appropriateness of a bargaining unit as follows:
First and foremost is the principle that mutuality of interest in wages, hours, and working conditions is the prime determinant of whether a given group of employees constitute an appropriate unit. In deciding whether the requisite mutuality exists, the Board looks to such factors as the duties, skills and working conditions of the employees involved and especially to any existing bargaining history . . . the Board also considers the extent of organization, and the desires of ...