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California Nursing Home, Homecare Workers Vote Overwhelmingly to Preempt Forced Transfer
Date:3/18/2008

OAKLAND, Calif., March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an unprecedented election, nursing home and home healthcare workers overwhelmingly have voted to remain members of United Healthcare Workers-West, demonstrating their unwillingness to be forcibly transferred to another Service Employees International Union local branch.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080318/DC17028)

Despite widespread interference, including a disinformation campaign aimed at suppressing voter turnout, 99 percent of nursing home and 96 percent of homecare workers who voted agreed that staying in UHW would be best for them, their families and, most importantly, the people they serve.

"The outcome of this election demonstrates clearly that homecare workers and nursing home workers want to remain in UHW, the statewide union for all healthcare workers," said Aaron Peskin, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. "Their overwhelming vote despite the appearance of shamefully inappropriate interference on the part of their employers and national union officials shows just how much our workers care about making their voices heard."

This election, conducted by an independent third party, was held in response to an anticipated power grab by SEIU to take away 65,000 members' bargaining rights. But the sheer number of participants in the process demonstrates the overwhelming desire of members to remain in a democratic, member-run union. This dispute between UHW and SEIU has been widely covered in the California media and national news outlets such as the New York Times, Harper's and the Wall Street Journal.

"This vote gave us the opportunity we wanted to demonstrate our desire to stay in UHW and remain part of a member-led union," said Li Bao Pan, a homecare worker in San Francisco. "We wanted to make our voices heard loud and clear, so we cast our ballots and urged our coworkers to do the same."

This week's vote is in sharp contrast to a vote in 2006 when SEIU held an election to reorganize locals in California and only about 16 percent of the total membership cast their ballots.

"Our members have spoken. They voted overwhelmingly to stay in UHW, united with all other healthcare workers," said UHW president Sal Rosselli. "This vote leaves no doubt about what our members want. Now, we can turn our focus back to winning our historic 2008 campaign in which nearly 200 contracts are set to expire in one year, giving us unprecedented power at the bargaining table."

This year, nursing home workers are bargaining 105 contracts in nursing homes, and at 45 of those facilities, employers interfered with the voting process. They hired security guards and called the police to try and stop the election. Those are the same employers with whom SEIU-appointed officials have struck deals in the past.

"Democracy is the cornerstone of our country," said Henry R. Perea, chairman of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. "I respect and support the outcome of this fair election. All workers should have the basic democratic right to choose freely whether to join a union and to belong to the union of their choice."

Other elected officials agreed and applauded the election.

"The level of participation in this process is extraordinary and these results are a clear directive that these workers want to stay in UHW and have a say in their upcoming negotiations," said Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson. "I am looking forward to supporting their historic contract campaign as negotiations at more than 100 nursing homes begin."

"I strongly believe in workers' right to vote for the union of their choice," said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia. "This election was monitored by an independent third party and the results are clear. I stand with UHW's homecare and nursing home members in their decision and support their efforts to provide the best quality care for seniors and people with disabilities."

"The resolve shown by the workers who courageously participated in this election should be an inspiration to us all," said Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada. "Their voices demonstrate a clear desire to stay united in UHW and a true commitment to democracy."

The 150,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States and represents every type of healthcare worker, including nurses, professional, technical and service classifications. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.


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SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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