By over a 2-to-1 margin, caregivers choose the National Union of Healthcare Workers
Saginaw, Michigan - Last Friday, workers at Luther Manor Nursing Home in Saginaw voted by over a 2-to-1 margin to leave the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and join a new union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). The final vote count was 47 for NUHW to 22 for SEIU with one vote for neither union and 4 challenged ballots.
“For years, SEIU negotiated substandard contracts for us and failed to represent us at the workplace or provide real contract enforcement,” said Olga Vasquez, a Certified Nursing Aide at Luther Manor. “It seemed like all they really cared about was our dues. Last week we finally got our chance to join a union that takes its members seriously. We can’t wait to get started bargaining a strong contract and putting our members’ interests first.”
NUHW was founded at the beginning of 2009 by former leaders of SEIU United Healthcare Workers West in California after SEIU officials in Washington DC retaliated against the California local union for its resistance to SEIU’s attempts to abridge the democratic rights of union members and to impose an agenda of active collusion with employers at the expense of workers. Thousands of healthcare workers in California have bolted SEIU and joined NUHW since its founding.
The 80 workers at Luther Manor are the first SEIU members outside of California to join the new union. Workers at the Hackley Campus of Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon are also waiting for their chance to leave SEIU and join NUHW, as are employees of several other Michigan healthcare facilities.
SEIU Michigan Healthcare has been plagued by scandal and corruption in recent years. The former president of SEIU Michigan Healthcare, Rickman Jackson, was forced from his office in 2008 for his role in a spending scandal, and the local union is currently $1.7 million in debt. Last year, SEIU Michigan Healthcare paid its president, Marge Faville, over $160,000. Faville’s niece, daughter and son are on the union’s payroll, and the union spent $17,600 in member dues money in 2010 for use of a corporate apartment in Detroit by Faville and her family members.