Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 1:31PM
In lead up to major 2012 election at Kaiser, state agency rules that SEIU may have cheated in 2009 election for 10,000 Fresno workers
FRESNO - The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which was recently decertified by one group of Fresno County workers and is currently facing decertification efforts by two other groups, may have cheated in an election for a fourth group of workers that tried to bolt the union three years ago, a government agency has ruled.
The California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) recently issued a decision overturning a Board agent’s earlier ruling, concluding that SEIU’s alleged misconduct in a 2009 election for 10,000 Fresno County home healthcare workers between SEIU and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) “may have interfered with employees’ right freely to choose a representative or constituted a serious irregularity in the running of the election.”
Today, homecare workers spoke out against SEIU at a press conference in downtown Fresno. “We wanted a fair election so we could get out of SEIU, because SEIU leaders don’t listen to rank-and-file members,” said Connie Lara, a Fresno homecare provider. “But SEIU was so determined to keep our dues money that they lied, threatened and intimidated us into voting to stay with their organization. This decision demonstrates what we’ve been saying for three years: that the election was unfair, and SEIU cheated.”
“The government has issued a decision that marks a major step forward toward proving what we have said all along,” said Sal Rosselli, President of NUHW. “If there had been a fair election in 2009, Fresno homecare workers would have belonged today in the union of their choice instead of being trapped in SEIU. But SEIU cheated, and consequently, these frontline healthcare workers are stuck in a corrupt organization that is incapable or unwilling to resist major cuts to the wages and benefits of some of the lowest-paid workers in the state.”
This is the second time in a year that a government agency has found SEIU guilty of misconduct in an election against NUHW. In 2010, Kaiser Permanente workers participated in the largest union election in the United States since the 1940s, for 43,000 employees statewide. After SEIU prevailed at the ballot box, the federal government threw out the election results last summer, ruling that SEIU’s campaign “tended to stoke unwarranted and coercive voter fears… conduct [which] viewed objectively, had a reasonable tendency to interfere with unit employees’ free and uncoerced choice in the election.” A new election at Kaiser is expected to be scheduled later this year.
In Fresno County last week, 250 workers with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District decertified SEIU to form their own association. Hundreds of Fresno-area corrections officers and social services employees are also currently attempting to escape SEIU and establish their own, independent unions, citing issues similar to those that motivated thousands of homecare workers to vote for NUHW in 2009, such as SEIU’s pervasive lack of transparency and absence of rank-and-file member control.
The decision marks a major legal setback for SEIU and demonstrates that the 2009 homecare election outcome, which favored SEIU by just 233 votes, was tainted by SEIU misconduct and a corrupted election environment.
Follow this link to read the decision.
Follow this link for video interviews, conducted shortly after the election, of homecare workers describing SEIU’s tactics.