To download and print a PDF of his letter for distribution to members, click here.
Dear NUHW members:
We’ve had another great year. NUHW continued to set the bar for improving standards for patients and workers, winning fair contracts that secure the future for our members and for our union.
We started the year by voting to affiliate with the California Nurses Association. CNA has been a strong and vital union in the state’s healthcare industry for decades and we are proud to stand together with them in fighting for worker and patient rights. By uniting the power of both unions in our common cause, NUHW-CNA serves as a model union for healthcare workers across the country.
Our reputation is growing. Due to our success and our democratic principles, healthcare workers throughout California are taking notice, and our membership continues to expand. In the last six weeks alone we have won five elections. As a result, we remain the fastest growing healthcare workers union in the country.
In 2013 we welcomed new members from the San Rafael Nursing and Wellness Center, Santa Cruz Visiting Nurses Association, Kindred Hospital Westminster, and Corizon Health, which provides care to inmates at the nation’s fifth largest jail, located in Alameda County. And Radiology Associates of Marin General
Hospital, a forty-member independent union in operation for three decades, voted unanimously to affiliate with NUHW.
Meanwhile, NUHW members continued the fight against Kaiser. In June, California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) hit Kaiser with a $4 million fine as a result of NUHW’s complaint that Kaiser is understaffing its mental health services and forcing patients to wait too long to receive care. The DMHC demanded that Kaiser put an end to these violations and come into compliance with state law regarding patient care and patients’ rights to timely appointments. And NUHW filed a lawsuit against the state’s Health Benefits Exchange for failing to enforce its eligibility rules on Kaiser given these violations. Together with CNA and UNITE HERE, we will continue to exert the power of more than 20,000 Kaiser workers to hold Kaiser accountable for providing better care for patients and better working conditions for employees.
In October, NUHW conducted its first annual Leadership Conference. Two hundred rank-and-file members gathered at Emeryville’s Hilton Garden Inn to discuss our union’s future and to recommit ourselves to winning industry-standard contracts, empowering work-site leaders, organizing the unorganized and those trapped in
undemocratic unions, and fighting for healthcare for all.
Our union is growing stronger by the day and we expect continued growth and progress in 2014. On behalf of the 10,000 members of NUHW and the many thousands more who await the chance to organize a powerful union in their workplace, we wish you and your family a healthy and peaceful new year.
Sal Rosselli, President
John Borsos, Secretary–Treasurer
The group, many of whom were dressed in red and wearing Santa hats, met at CNA’s headquarters at 2000 Franklin Street for a toy and food drive, followed by a series of speeches by CNA executive director Rose Ann DeMore and other CNA leaders, as well as state assemblymember Nancy Skinner and NUHW president Sal Rosselli.
Soon the gathered throng, chanting and singing, headed out into the street and marched the few blocks to Kaiser Permanente’s national headquarters, where they regaled the unseen Kaiser brass behind the building’s mirrored windows with Christmas carols—complete with customized lyrics expressing displeasure with Kaiser’s policies.
Nurses are protesting numerous Kaiser policies, including the closure of Kaiser-Hayward’s pediatrics unit and drastic reductions in services at Kaiser Manteca—cuts that force Kaiser patients to travel greater distances to access care.
Though it has brought in $2 billion in profit for the fourth consecutive year, Kaiser is also proposing a cancellation policy, meaning that nurses will be sent home without pay when a hospital’s patient census drops. “When there are no fires, firefighters still get paid,” said one CNA representative. “When there’s no crime, police officers are still on the job. Nurses need to stay on the job!”
After a spirited rally at Kaiser’s national headquarters, the nurses and NUHW leaders marched to Kaiser’s regional headquarters on Franklin Street and repeated the cycle of Christmas carols before concluding their march.
I’m proud to report that 180 of my co-workers and I just voted to join NUHW!
On Wednesday night, the NLRB announced the final results of our election: 129 votes for NUHW and 32 for “No Union.”
We work at Kindred Hospital Westminster in Orange County — a 109-bed acute-care hospital that cares for patients with complex medical conditions requiring extended hospitals stays. We’re Respiratory Care Practitioners, LVNs, Certified Nursing Assistants, EVS, Food Service Workers, Unit Secretaries, and X-Ray Techs.
I’ve worked at our hospital for 5 years as an Respiratory Care Practitioner. My coworkers and I didn’t get into healthcare to get rich. We do our jobs to impact lives for the better, to help patients and families through difficult times.
None of us entered this field to do a mediocre job, but unfortunately, with the time and resources we’re given, that’s often the only job we can do. With Kindred, profits usually come before patients, and that’s unacceptable. As NUHW members, we hope to fulfill our mission as healthcare workers – to give the best possible care to our patients.
We’re proud to join NUHW and look forward to working with healthcare workers across the state – including all of the caregivers at Kindred Hospital in San Leandro.
Rodney Nelson, RCP
On behalf of NUHW’s Executive Board, I’d like to welcome our newest members at Sutter Health’s Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice of Santa Cruz County.
Last week, a group of 18 Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists and Medical Social Workers voted by a margin of 15 to 0 to join NUHW in an NLRB election. Their victory came despite Sutter’s aggressive campaign led by a high-priced anti-union consultant.
Here’s what Gaye Kihornay, a Physical Therapist, said about the election:
“For a number of years, our homecare RNs have been unionized. We therapists and social workers were not given the same working conditions as our RNs because management kept telling us, ‘Sorry, you aren’t union.’ We always thought we were too small of a group, just 18 people, for any union to care about us. We now know this is not true. The NUHW rep was so responsive and met with us a number of times to guide us toward unionization. We were even amazed when Sal Rosselli took up time on a Saturday to come speak to us. We truly feel we are now represented because of NUHW. NUHW is the right union for us and we look forward to finally being able to improve our working conditions.”
Finally, one additional piece of news:
Last week, the Los Angeles Times published an article about our ongoing campaign to hold Kaiser accountable. The article details a second government investigation triggered by our union after we learned that Kaiser secretly hired away a top state investigator who was probing Kaiser’s mental health services in response to our earlier complaint.
Apparently, Kaiser recruited the state investigator to its side to try to submarine the government inquiry – and then reportedly used her “insider” knowledge to battle the $4 million fine and “Cease and Desist Order” that we won against Kaiser in June.
The government launched its first investigation after NUHW blew the whistle on Kaiser for understaffing its mental health clinics and depriving our patients of needed care. Here’s a link to the full article in the Los Angeles Times.
Along with my colleagues on NUHW’s Executive Board, I hope you and your families have a great Thanksgiving!
Clem Papazian, LCSW, Kaiser Oakland Medical Center