Carson-Tahoe administrators rejected a petition from nurses requesting union representation.
Administrators said Tuesday the union presented no clear and convincing evidence to support a nurse bargaining unit.
The hospital received a letter requesting the change from Operating Engineers Local Union Number 3 on Nov. 5 and immediately rejected the request because a verified membership list did not accompany the request, said hospital labor attorney Charlie Cockerill said.
"We disagree with them and have legitimate concerns," Cockerill said.
Nurses at Carson-Tahoe say they are seeking a union separate from their employee association to raise the quality of care for patients, to lower nurse stress and to operate more efficiently and safely.
Operating Engineers Spokesman Steve Moler said the union had ample evidence supporting the need to separate the nurses from the employees association.
"To say we don't have clear and convincing evidence is not true," Moler said. "If 70 to 75 percent of the (nursing) unit signing cards is not convincing evidence, I don't know what is. We have the sign cards in our possession and are prepared to present them upon request."
In a statement sent to the state Employees Relations Management Board, Cockerill wrote that nurses already have an adequate bargaining unit at the hospital.
"It's the hospital's position that the current 'wall-to-wall' bargaining unit is the most appropriate unit for the hospital's interest in not having a proliferation of smaller bargaining units due to increased cost and time for bargaining for multiple and other factors ...," Cockerill wrote.
Moler said the union also disagreed that the hospital's employee union effectively represented the nurses.
"Nurses have special interests and special needs," Moler said. "We believe those can be best addressed by having union representation with a union that has experience representing registered nurses.
"I'm sure the hospital would like to keep everything status quo, but the nurses want to have their own union so they can have their own interests and needs taken care of."
Because of stringent labor laws, hospital Chief Executive Officer Steve Smith said he could say little of the union effort. He did say the hospital does have a recognized union and it would be "much more difficult and more costly to deal with" an extra bargaining unit."
The request was forwarded to the relations management board for review. The board should deliberate whether or not the issue warrants a hearing Dec. 9 or Dec. 10, said board Commissioner Shari Thomas. The board is the first step for all of Nevada's local governments in dealing with labor issues. Government workers on a local level can't strike, Thomas said, and in exchange for that the state created the board to "foster the collective bargaining process."
If either side disagrees with the board's decision, the issue can be taken to district court for review and ultimately, can make it to the state supreme court.
Administrators only have five days to respond to a petition before losing their right to request a hearing from the board, Thomas said. Sometimes, the matters can be resolved without a board hearing, she said.