4,000 Healthcare Workers Seek Vote to Join More Than 55,000 Others Who Have Already chosen to Stay United in SEIU
OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Healthcare workers at 26 California hospitals and nursing homes are seeking elections to join more than 55,000 other union members who have already chosen to stay united in the Service Employees International Union - United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), rather than switch to an organization formed by the union's ousted leaders.
The SEIU-UHW members are asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to schedule the elections as soon as possible so they can continue to improve their jobs and patient care without the distraction of another organization in their facilities.
During the past year, petitions seeking decertification of SEIU-UHW as the workers' union were filed with the NLRB by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), an organization formed by the union's former officials who were ousted in January 2009. SEIU-UHW members filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the NLRB that blocked the elections, citing employer abuses and NUHW misconduct that seriously jeopardized workers' rights.
In many places, members have negotiated strong new contracts that lock in raises and benefits for up to three years - improvements that would be put directly at risk if workers were to leave SEIU. In others, NUHW is creating division as contracts are being bargained - a situation that management is trying to take advantage of. Members have decided the time has come to get NUHW out of their affairs and end the division.
"NUHW did nothing but help management as we fought to win strong new contract protections," said Tami Garver, an environmental services worker at O'Connor Hospital in San Jose. "We've spent the last year cleaning up the confusion and mess left by the leadership that was thrown out and now we just want NUHW and their disruption to go away."
"I'm excited that we're finally going to be able to vote for our union - SEIU-UHW - and put the distraction of NUHW behind us," said Sandra Newman, a certified nurse assistant at Sunbridge Heritage Care Center in Stockton, CA.
The former officials who formed NUHW were removed from office in SEIU-UHW for improperly transferring $3 million in members' dues to an outside account for their own use, stashing $500,000 in a lawyer's bank account, and violating the democratic rights of SEIU-UHW members. The local union was placed in trusteeship, and the former officials go to trial in federal court in March for their actions to harm the union and its members, and could face a financial judgment against them.
Since the trusteeship in late January 2009, not a single SEIU member has switched NUHW. Last year, 55,964 members stuck with SEIU, despite decertification efforts by the group of ousted leaders. This included 10,000 home care workers in Fresno County, 22,000 home care workers in San Francisco, 18,000 home care workers in Sacramento, and more than 5,000 hospital and healthcare workers at Alameda Hospital, Alameda County Medical Center, Washington Hospital in Fremont, Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister, Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, and workers in Monterey County.
SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU-UHW) is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States with more than 150,000 members. We unite every type of healthcare worker with a mission to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. SEIU-UHW is part of the 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation's fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.
Contact: Adriana Surfas, 510-869-2246
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