The following is a statement from Marie Foster, a 23-year Program Assistant at Kaiser San Jose and a member of NUHW’s Executive Board and Kaiser Organizing Committee, responding to SEIU’s false statements to the media on July 14, 2010:
“NUHW is fighting to secure the fair union elections that thousands of Kaiser workers have been demanding for 16 months, while SEIU is still trying to deny workers the right to vote in three out of four Kaiser bargaining units.
“SEIU’s effort to block these three elections is the reason there is not yet agreement on the details of these elections. NUHW wants a fair, safe, and democratic vote for all Kaiser workers. The fact that SEIU has failed to reach agreement with NUHW on this should come as no surprise. If SEIU is unable to accept a fair agreement that respects the democratic rights of workers, the NLRB will schedule the election.
“In any case, SEIU’s efforts will not stop Kaiser workers from voting for NUHW in a government-supervised election.”
On June 29, thousands of Kaiser healthcare workers filed a petition with the labor board demanding elections for 45,000 SEIU members to leave behind the troubled SEIU and join the state’s fastest-growing union, the new National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).
Last year, SEIU officials from Washington, D.C. took over Kaiser workers’ local union, ousting thousands of healthcare workers from elected positions and putting themselves in charge. Since then, SEIU has failed to represent Kaiser employees in the workplace, focusing instead on securing their own control of the union.
The result: Kaiser has cut workers’ retirement benefit by $242 million, and SEIU has promised to help Kaiser cut workers’ health insurance and agreed to wage increases less than the increase in the cost of living—the lowest in 15 years. Safe staffing levels—long a top priority for healthcare workers—are now at risk as Kaiser eliminates positions.
NUHW was founded as a member-led union after SEIU’s takeover, and thousands of Kaiser workers already joined in three landslide elections this January. One of their first accomplishments in NUHW was winning 171 new positions at Kaiser’s flagship Los Angeles hospital.
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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. | www.NUHW.org