NLRB takes first step toward ordering re-run of nation’s largest private sector election in 70 years
OAKLAND – Last week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a report that could result in the tossing out of the largest private sector union election in 70 years due to misconduct by both Kaiser Permanente and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The election was conducted in September-October 2010 for 43,000 Kaiser employees.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) filed objections to the election, alleging that both Kaiser and SEIU had engaged in electioneering misconduct and colluded to prevent workers from choosing to be represented by NUHW.
In its January 14, 2011 finding, the NLRB found sufficient merit in dozens of objections filed by NUHW to warrant holding a full-blown hearing, including that:
- SEIU unlawfully threatened Kaiser employees with loss of wages and benefits if NUHW won the election.
- Kaiser paid SEIU representatives to campaign for its preferred union, SEIU.
- Kaiser provided special access to SEIU staff and supporters that it denied to NUHW representatives.
- SEIU engaged in various acts of physical force and violence against supporters of NUHW.
The January 14th report also reiterates two recent rulings by an NLRB administrative law judge and a federal judge, both asserting that Kaiser broke the law when it withheld scheduled wage increases and other benefits to approximately 2,300 professionals and registered nurses in Southern California who voted overwhelmingly to be represented by NUHW in January 2010. The hearing will seek to determine whether Kaiser’s illegal activities unlawfully impacted the outcome of the disputed election.
“The NLRB’s report confirms what Kaiser employees already know: that SEIU and Kaiser acted unlawfully to deny us the right to elect the union of our own choosing,” said Roy Chaffee, a 12-year Clerk at the Kaiser Vallejo Call Center. “Threats and intimidation have no place in a healthcare institution, and we’re glad we are finally taking an important first step to secure a new, fair election for the 43,000 Kaiser employees currently trapped in SEIU.”
The hearing before an NLRB hearing officer is scheduled for February 7, 2011.