New member-led union caps first year with biggest victories yet; votes called a “referendum” against SEIU’s power grabs and secret deals with employers
LOS ANGELES—Nearly one year to the day after SEIU seized control of California’s healthcare union in a hostile takeover, nurses and healthcare professionals at nearly 100 Kaiser hospitals and clinics have voted to take back their union by joining the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).
“Today we’ve restored democracy and integrity in our union,” said Irma Dufelmeier, a registered nurse at Kaiser’s Los Angeles Medical Center. “At Kaiser, we’ve won the highest standards in the country for healthcare workers and our patients. Now we have a member-led union where we can protect those standards. These elections are a referendum on SEIU’s backroom deals with healthcare corporations that give away workers’ and patients’ rights.”
The National Labor Relations Board counted ballots today for 2,300 workers in three bargaining units. Workers’ victory was overwhelming, with 1,652 voting to join NUHW and just 257 for SEIU. Registered nurses at Kaiser’s Los Angeles Medical Center voted 746 to 36 for NUHW; psychiatric social workers voted 717 to 192; and other healthcare professionals voted 189 to 29.
They’re part of an exodus of more than 100,000 SEIU members who have petitioned for similar elections to join NUHW since last year’s takeover. An even bigger election is expected later this year, when the rest of Kaiser’s 50,000 California employees will be eligible to vote.
NUHW was founded in January 2009, when scores of healthcare workers from across the state—elected leaders of their union—decided together to declare their independence from SEIU and establish a new, member-led union.
After just one year, workers’ choice is clear:
- NUHW has organized 3,357 new members, making NUHW California’s fastest-growing union.
- NUHW has won 7 out of 9 competitive elections against SEIU, with a majority of individual voters across all elections choosing NUHW.
- NUHW is organizing the unorganized, including winning a voice for 900 caregivers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in the nation’s biggest hospital election of 2009. Four of NUHW’s eight election victories have been by formerly non-union workers.
Read and download NUHW’s Year One report: NUHW.org/one
“SEIU spent millions of dollars of our own dues money on the most expensive campaign tactics money can buy,” said Jim Clifford, a therapist at Kaiser San Diego. “But in the end, they couldn’t convince healthcare workers to give up our rights and leave our jobs and our patients in the hands of unelected bureaucrats who have never worked a day in a hospital.”
Under the control of staff appointed by SEIU President Andy Stern,
- SEIU-UHW has organized zero new members since Jan. 2009. SEIU-UHW participated in only three elections for unorganized workers, and lost all three.
- Instead, SEIU-UHW is shrinking, having lost thousands of members to NUHW.
- A majority of workers at most SEIU-UHW-represented healthcare facilities—representing 100,000 of SEIU-UHW’s 150,000 members—petitioned the labor board in 2009 for elections to quit SEIU and join NUHW. Most of the elections are expected to be scheduled this year—an opportunity for more than 60,000 more workers to vote to join NUHW.
- Zero members of NUHW have petitioned to join SEIU.
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The National Union of Healthcare Workers is California’s fastest-growing union, representing caregivers in every job classification. More than 100,000 workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and Kaiser Permanente facilities have petitioned for elections to join NUHW and win a strong, democratic voice at work. | NUHW.org