180 caregivers vote by 80% margin to join union in NLRB election
EMERYVILLE — More than 180 healthcare workers at Kindred Hospital Westminster in Westminster, California (Orange County) have become the newest members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). Late last night, the National Labor Relations Board concluded its vote count and announced the final tally: 129 votes for NUHW and 32 votes for “No Union.”
The healthcare workers include Licensed Vocational Nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants, and Respiratory Therapists. They care for patients with complex medical conditions that require extended hospitals stays at the 109-bed acute-care hospital.
Caregivers’ main objective in joining NUHW is to address longstanding problems of inadequate staffing levels that undermine their patients’ care. Last year, the hospital recorded a 17% profit margin, more than three times the statewide average for California’s hospitals, according to government records.
Rodney Nelson, a Respiratory Care Practitioner who has worked at the hospital for five years, said: “We didn’t get into healthcare to get rich. We do our jobs to impact lives for the better, to help patients and families through difficult times. None of us entered this field to do a mediocre job, but unfortunately, with the time and resources we’re given, that’s often the only job we can do. With Kindred, profits usually come before patients and that’s unacceptable. As NUHW members, we hope to fulfill our mission as healthcare workers.”
Caregivers won yesterday’s election despite an aggressive anti-union campaign waged by Kindred and The Alignment Group, an out-of-state consulting firm hired by Kindred to conduct its anti-union campaign. Each of the firm’s consultants charges $200-$300 per hour for their services.
Kindred Hospital Westminster is owned by Kindred Healthcare, a Fortune 500 corporation headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. With 62,000 employees in 46 states, the company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and has revenues of more than $6 billion per year. Kindred’s CEO, Paul Diaz, earned $6.4 million in 2011. NUHW also represents the employees at the 99-bed Kindred Hospital San Francisco Bay Area in San Leandro, California.
NUHW represents nearly 10,000 healthcare workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities in California and Michigan. It has a proven track record of democratic unionism and winning strong patient-care and workplace standards. In 2013, NUHW affiliated with the California Nurses Association, which represents 85,000 Registered Nurses in California.