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6,000 Healthcare Workers March Against SEIU's Move to Split Their Union Apart

65,000 caregivers could be forced out of the union of their choice without a fair vote

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., July 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 6,000 healthcare workers marched today to protest a hearing by the Service Employees International Union, the parent organization of United Healthcare Workers-West. The SEIU-appointed hearing officer is expected to recommend splitting UHW in half, dividing 65,000 nursing home workers and homecare workers from their co-workers in hospitals. The split would weaken the voice of healthcare workers who have spoken out against SEIU's top-down sweetheart deals, especially in long-term care.

"Healthcare workers have struggled together and taken big risks to win a voice to stand up for our patients, in hospitals, in nursing homes and in homecare," said Ruby Guzman, a certified nursing assistant and chief steward at Creekside Healthcare Center in San Pablo, Calif. "Today we are at our greatest position of strength with the healthcare industry. How could our own union try to tear us apart?"

Members of United Healthcare Workers-West have been working for over a decade to unite healthcare workers in California for a stronger voice to advocate for safe conditions and better patient care. In 2008, for the first time, UHW members have nearly 200 nursing home, hospital, and homecare contracts set to expire in the same year, bringing unprecedented strength to the largest bargaining campaign in American healthcare history.

UHW's strategy has already succeeded, reaching a landmark agreement last week with the Mariner nursing home chain that ties standards at 10 nursing homes in Northern California to standards at Kaiser, where UHW hospital workers have the best contract in the country.

Now those gains are at risk. At Monday's hearing, the hearing officer chosen and paid for by SEIU could decide the fate of 65,000 healthcare workers. In recent years, SEIU has used an undemocratic election process to force mergers of local unions. If SEIU follows the same process in this case, all 65,000 nursing home and homecare workers who are members of UHW could vote "no" and still be transferred to a different local union.

In a March election held by UHW, 99 percent of nursing home and 96 percent of homecare workers voted to stay united with hospital workers in UHW. SEIU has chosen to disregard that vote.

The 150,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest, fastest-growing hospital and healthcare union in the western United States. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.

SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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