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    « Memorial Hospital workers picket for safe staffing levels | Main | Kaiser workers call for new election, stronger protection of workers' rights »
    Thursday
    Oct142010

    Will illegal and collusive behavior by Kaiser Permanente result in a new union election for 43,000 California healthcare workers?

    Attorneys representing employees and NUHW file objections to management’s support for SEIU in recent election

    Oakland, Calif.—One week after ballots were counted in the largest private sector union election in 70 years, attorneys for the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) have filed to have the election result overturned.

    Employers are required to remain neutral in elections between unions over bargaining rights. Documents filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) outline a number of overt and unfair labor practices by Kaiser management against its workers, beginning with Kaiser’s refusal to pay promised raises and other benefits to workers in Southern California who recently voted to join NUHW. In the election between NUHW and SEIU, Kaiser management worked closely and illegally with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to influence the election outcome for 43,000 workers statewide in multiple ways. The NLRB earlier this month announced action against Kaiser for some of its bad behavior. According to today’s filing:

    “Kaiser’s misconduct is so severe in this regard that not only has the NLRB issued a complaint concerning it, but it is seeking the extraordinary remedy of 10(j) relief because of the deleterious effect such flagrant disregard of the law creates on NUHW’s stature and ability to organize. In its court filings, the General Counsel has specifically referred to the role of this unlawful misconduct in the instant election.”

    After illegally withholding more than $1 million in wages and benefits from 2,300 Southern California workers who voted to join NUHW earlier this year, Kaiser’s management threatened to take the same punitive actions against thousands more workers if they voted to join the union. Federal law specifically prohibits companies from threatening workers with cuts to their wages and benefits in retaliation for their choice of union. Kaiser allowed SEIU to publicize these threats by using the employer’s internal email system, bulletin boards and auditoriums, and by giving SEIU preferential access to its facilities.

    Kaiser even offered financial assistance to SEIU—a criminal violation—which last month become the subject of a lawsuit by nine Kaiser workers against their employer.

    The financial help was funneled in different ways, including:

    • Salaries and benefits for workers to campaign full-time for SEIU;
    • Direct contribuions to the SEIU UHW-W Education Fund which campaigned actively for the incumbent in breach of their fiduciary duty and federal law;
    • Providing facilities free of charge to SEIU campaigners for election activity and providing unprecedented full access to private areas of its facilities to SEIU employees for the sole purpose of campaigning.

    “We’re proud of how hard Kaiser employees worked to stand up to one of the biggest, most intense anti-union campaigns in recent memory,” said Sal Rosselli, Interim President of NUHW. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to help them win the right to a new, fair election.”

    References:

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    The National Union of Healthcare Workers is California’s fastest-growing union, representing caregivers in every job classification. NUHW is dedicated to member democracy, dignity and justice for healthcare workers, and quality, affordable healthcare for all. | NUHW.org