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    New Court Ruling Vindicates NUHW Supporters, Reverses Lower Court Decision

    Unanimous appellate decision strikes down SEIU’s anti-SLAPP motion

    SAN FRANCISCO — Last week, the California Court of Appeals, First Appellate District, reversed a trial court ruling in a lawsuit brought by NUHW supporters against SEIU for alleged acts and threats of violence against workers organizing for NUHW. The lower court had granted an anti-SLAPP motion to SEIU, holding the plaintiffs responsible for SEIU’s attorney’s fees. In a unanimous decision, the appellate court rejected that ruling.

    “SLAPP” is an acronym for “strategic lawsuits against public participation” (Navellier v. Sletten (2002) 29 Cal.4th 82, 85). California’s anti-SLAPP law was designed to deter plaintiffs from filing frivolous suits whose sole purpose is to chill speech rather than pursue legitimate legal redress.

    The appeals court ruling explicitly rejects the lower court’s characterization of the suit as a legitimate target of anti-SLAPP restitution. Referring to SEIU supporters’ allegedly violent and threatening behavior toward NUHW activists, the ruling states, “(c)onduct illegal as a matter of law is not protected by the anti-SLAPP statute … Threats of violence or bodily injury are not protected activities for the purposes of an anti-SLAPP motion … The conduct goes well beyond mere speech in connection with a labor dispute.”

    “We are vindicated by this decision,” said Attorney Angela Alioto, whose firm filed the lawsuit. “The courts have acknowledged that there is no protection for violence in the free speech arena, thuggery is not speech.”

    “This decision demonstrates that when SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan instruct their staff and supporters to physically and verbally accost healthcare workers who are organizing to join NUHW, they can’t run to the courts to protect them,” said Sal Rosselli, President of NUHW. “Violence and threat of violence isn’t protected speech activity and it has no place in the labor movement.”


    Through Fear and Collusion, SEIU-UHW Holds on to Kaiser Bargaining Unit

    But majority of the total number of Kaiser workers in California support NUHW-CNA

    OAKLAND — For months, the Service Employees International Union–United Healthcare Workers (SEIU-UHW) has spent millions of dollars on a negative campaign designed to exploit Kaiser Permanente workers’ anxieties in a difficult economic climate, asserting repeatedly and without foundation that workers who choose to stand up for themselves do so only at the cost of losing everything, the National Union of Healthcare Workers-California Nurses Association (NUHW-CNA) stated at the conclusion of the rerun election vote count today.

    Through this campaign of fear, intimidation, and collusion with management, SEIU-UHW prevailed today in the statewide election for 45,000 Kaiser employees in California. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recorded the vote count with a tally of 13,002 votes for NUHW-CNA to 18,894 votes for SEIU-UHW, with 334 voters casting ballots for “Neither.”

    During a time of record profits for Kaiser Permanente, through its labor-management partnership, SEIU-UHW has allowed Kaiser to implement deep cuts to workers’ pension and retiree health benefits and to lay off 1,000 workers statewide. SEIU-UHW’s election message to Kaiser’s workforce has been that even worse lies in store for those who choose to fight for what they deserve.

    NUHW-CNA’s conviction is the opposite: that workers can only secure their future by standing united against the cuts that SEIU-UHW officials have readily agreed to. NUHW-CNA’s message has galvanized Kaiser workers, generating roughly 13,000 votes for change even in a tough economy. Together with 18,000 Kaiser RNs represented by the California Nurses Association and 5,000 NUHW-represented Kaiser employees, those 13,000 workers belong to a majority of Kaiser workers in California who stand united and ready to fight the downward spiral of cuts that SEIU-UHW and employers like Kaiser are forcing on healthcare workers everywhere.

    SEIU-UHW and Kaiser’s “partnership” radically and unlawfully tilted the election playing field in favor of the incumbent union. Just as they did in the 2010 election, Kaiser management granted unequal facility access to SEIU-UHW staff and illegally abridged the speech rights of workers supporting NUHW-CNA. Kaiser also changed its formula for awarding bonuses to workers in order to penalize employees who already belong to NUHW-CNA, providing SEIU-UHW with a tailor-made campaign issue. Recently, the NLRB charged Kaiser with “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights” guaranteed workers under the law at three different hospitals. Those violations were just a small fraction of the number of violations statewide that NUHW-CNA has documented and amassed.

    Regardless of the election outcome, Kaiser employees remain committed to the fight for patients and workers at a time of record profits for the HMO.

    “The majority of Kaiser workers are either members of NUHW and CNA or cast ballots to become members,” said Lisa Tomasian a radiology technologist at Kaiser Santa Clara. “We have never in the history of Kaiser been so united. We’re going to take this unity and use it to put a stop to Kaiser and SEIU-UHW’s joint plan to reduce workers’ benefits to increase corporate profits. We’re just at the beginning of showing Kaiser what that unity looks like.”

    “When a patient is in critical condition, nurses don’t just throw our hands up and give up on her,” said Zenei Cortez, RN and CNA co-president and chair of the CNA Kaiser Joint Area Bargaining Council. “It’s when things are tough that we fight the hardest. This fight is a fight for workers and for safe patient care. If you know nurses and if you know healthcare workers, you know that we don’t give up: we focus, we knuckle down and we get the job done. Kaiser is about to learn that about us. We’ve opened doors that will never be closed.”


    Get Up-to-the-minute Updates on Tomorrow's Kaiser Vote Count

    OAKLAND — Tomorrow, May 1, the vote count will begin for the NUHW-CNA statewide election at Kaiser. The ballot count will take place at the National Labor Relations Board office in Oakland, California.

    Here’s how to receive up-to-the-minute information on the vote count:
    Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and sign up for text updates today so you don’t miss the up-to-the-minute news starting tomorrow.

    For background information on the election, see our press release from April 4.

    Labor Board Issues Complaint Against Kaiser For Illegal Union-busting Activity Against NUHW-supporting Employees

    SAN FRANCISCO — Despite Kaiser Permanente’s repeated claims of “neutrality” in the upcoming election between the National Union of Healthcare Workers - California Nurses Association (NUHW-CNA) and the Service Employees International Union - United Healthcare Workers (SEIU-UHW) for 45,000 Kaiser workers in California, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued two complaints against the HMO for “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights” guaranteed workers under the law.

    At Kaiser San Francisco Medical Center, a Kaiser Human Resources Consultant named Anthony Wong ischarged with illegally prohibiting off-duty workers from visiting the worksite to talk to their co-workers about supporting NUHW-CNA and with interrogating employees about their co-workers’ sympathies and preferences in the election.

    At Kaiser South San Francisco, another Kaiser H.R. Consultant, Alan Burnett, is likewise charged with violating employees’ rights to engage in union election activity in support of NUHW-CNA.

    At Kaiser South Bay Medical Center in Los Angeles County, three Kaiser managers, Susanne Corlett, Heidi Greene and Saro Tomasian, are charged with illegally restricting their employees’ rights to engage in union activity in support of NUHW-CNA and with having threatened discipline, including termination, for workers’ exercise of those rights.

    Kaiser’s misconduct has been pervasive throughout the state. Earlier this year at Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center, the NLRB found management guilty of engaging in similar violations against NUHW-CNA supporters and forced administrators to promise to refrain from such illegal conduct in the future. Recently, workers at Kaiser Panorama City in Los Angeles have been sent home for wearing NUHW-CNA shirts and workers supporting NUHW-CNA at Kaiser Santa Clara, Kaiser Santa Rosa and Kaiser Vallejo have reported violations by managers of their rights to engage in protected activity.

    In 2010, the results of an earlier statewide election at Kaiser between NUHW-CNA and SEIU-UHW were thrown out by a federal judge due to cheating and collusion between Kaiser Permanente and SEIU-UHW. In that election, Kaiser illegally withheld raises and education benefits from NUHW-represented Kaiser employees in order to assist SEIU-UHW’s campaign. Kaiser management also engaged in precisely the kind of unlawful coercion and restriction of employees’ speech rights in 2010 that the NLRB has now found Kaiser to be engaging in in the current election.

    “Kaiser management keeps saying it’s ‘neutral’ in this election, but if you work at a Kaiser hospital you know that’s a joke,” said Kelela Moberg from Kaiser San Francisco’s Outpatient Pharmacy Department. “SEIU-UHW is Kaiser’s hand-picked company union, and Kaiser will do whatever it can to tilt the playing field in SEIU’s favor, including breaking the law. That’s one of the many reasons the majority of Kaiser workers are choosing NUHW-CNA.”

    An NLRB hearing took place last month in Los Angeles regarding the complaint issued against the Kaiser South Bay managers; an NLRB hearing is scheduled for June 4 in San Francisco for the H.R. consultants at Kaiser San Francisco and Kaiser South San Francisco.

    Ballots in the statewide election between NUHW-CNA and SEIU-UHW are due back at the NLRB office in Oakland by April 29, with a vote count scheduled for May 1.

    Read the NLRB’s complaints:

    Voting Begins Next Week for 45,000 Kaiser Workers Switching from SEIU-UHW to National Union of Healthcare Workers-California Nurses Association (NUHW-CNA)

    April 4, 2013 — Contact Leighton Woodhouse: (213) 948-3545

    Voting Begins Next Week for 45,000 Kaiser Workers Switching from SEIU-UHW to National Union of Healthcare Workers-California Nurses Association (NUHW-CNA)
    Re-run of Biggest Election Conducted by Federal Government Since 1941

    OAKLAND — Tomorrow, April 5, ballots will be mailed out by the National Labor Relations Board in Washington D.C. to 45,000 service, technical and clerical workers employed by Kaiser Permanente at more than thirty medical centers and hundreds of clinics throughout California. Workers will be voting to leave the Service Employees International Union - United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers - California Nurses Association (NUHW-CNA). Ballots must be returned by April 29th, and counting will begin on May 1.

    As ballots are about to drop, NUHW-CNA has launched a series of television and radio ads to raise awareness of the importance of the vote to Kaiser workers and patients.

    Watch NUHW-CNA’s TV ad:

    Listen to NUHW-CNA’s radio ad:

    A majority of workers at Kaiser support leaving SEIU-UHW and joining NUHW, which recently affiliated with the California Nurses Association (CNA) to become NUHW-CNA. After Kaiser workers cast their ballots for NUHW-CNA, they will join 4,000 Kaiser healthcare professionals who already belong to NUHW and 18,000 Kaiser registered nurses with the CNA to become a union of nearly 70,000 Kaiser workers — the largest union representing Kaiser employees in the country.

    In 2010, an election was held at Kaiser between SEIU-UHW and NUHW, in which SEIU prevailed by colluding with the employer and illegally lying to its members. A federal judge found SEIU guilty of cheating in the election and threw out the results. This year’s election is a re-vote of that spoiled election.

    For more than four years, Kaiser workers have been organizing to leave SEIU-UHW and join NUHW, following a hostile takeover of their local union by Washington DC-based SEIU officials in 2009. SEIU executed a trusteeship of UHW that year after the local’s democratically elected leaders refused to allow SEIU officials to take control of contract negotiations out of the hands of California Kaiser workers, and opposed SEIU’s efforts to force half of the local’s membership into a Southern California homecare local led by an SEIU official who has since been convicted on multiple charges related to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars of members’ dues money. NUHW is led by the former leaders of UHW prior to that takeover.

    Kaiser workers want to be part of a union that we trust and that is willing to stand up to employers like Kaiser on behalf of patients and healthcare workers,” said Angela Glasper, an Optical Sales Receptionist at Kaiser Antioch. “Both NUHW and CNA have been on the frontlines of both patient and worker advocacy. That’s why we’re supporting NUHW-CNA. With 70,000 Kaiser employees united, we will finally have the strength and power to win what Kaiser patients and workers deserve.”


    Statement by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) on U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Decision in SEIU vs. NUHW

    Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a major setback to union democracy and helped advance SEIU’s autocratic, top-down style of corporate unionism. The court’s decision marks another step toward the inexorable decline of the labor movement and represents a huge step backwards for American workers.

    Rather than upholding the rights of union members to oppose corruption and other undemocratic practices in their union, this decision reaffirms the authority of SEIU’s leaders to run roughshod over rank-and-file democratic decision-making, particularly when those members stand in opposition to top union officials.
    In fact, the lawsuit itself is an expression of SEIU’s determination to stifle dissent within its ranks. It began in 2008 when officers of UHW’s 100-member Executive Board unanimously opposed the usurpation of power by the SEIU international union president. First the SEIU president assumed the right to take the authority away from democratically elected committees for the purposes of bargaining with Kaiser Permanente and other employers. When UHW members and leaders resisted, the SEIU president then ordered the undemocratic transfer of 65,000 nursing home and homecare workers into another SEIU local headed by Tyrone Freeman, a close ally of SEIU’s top officials who was widely known to be corrupt and ineffective.

    Earlier this year, Freeman was convicted on 14 criminal counts, including the embezzlement of tens of thousands of dollars from low-wage union members. Freeman now faces a prison sentence of up to more than 200 years. Despite the drummed-up pretext to SEIU’s trusteeship of UHW, to this day, SEIU never transferred the 65,000 workers.

    Originally seeking more than $25 million in damages, SEIU “won” a $1.5 million verdict that it spent more than $10 million of its own members’ money to achieve.

    The clear intent of the lawsuit was to try to stop workers from creating a democratic, member-led union, and in that, it failed miserably. The National Union of Healthcare Workers is stronger than at any time in its history.

    Out of the ashes of UHW and the corruption of SEIU, California healthcare workers have formed a new and more democratic union, NUHW, a union that’s not beholden to SEIU’s cronyism and corruption and that stands for member empowerment and democracy.

    In the meantime, the democratically elected NUHW Executive Board is considering an appeal of the Ninth Circuit decision to the United States Supreme Court.

    Government Cites Kaiser Permanente for Providing Inadequate Mental Health Care to California Patients

    SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) issued a report yesterday affirming the findings of an exhaustive complaint filed by Kaiser Permanente’s frontline mental health clinicians, who are represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). The DMHC cited Kaiser for multiple violations that have now been referred to the agency’s Office of Enforcement, which is responsible for imposing legal and financial penalties on HMOs.  
    Among other findings, the DMHC found that:
    • Kaiser committed “systemic access deficiencies” by failing to provide its members with timely access to mental health services. Instead, large numbers of Kaiser’s patients were required to endure lengthy waits for appointments in violation of California’s “timely access” regulations.
    • Kaiser’s internal record-keeping system contained numerous problems – including a parallel set of “paper” appointment records that differed from the HMO’s electronic records – that hid patients’ lengthy wait times from government inspectors.
    • Kaiser failed to adequately monitor and correct its violations of state law. Records show that Kaiser was aware of its violations, but failed to take action to correct the problems.
    • Kaiser provided “inaccurate educational materials” to its members that had the effect of dissuading them from pursuing medically necessary care and violated state and federal mental health parity laws.  
    In addition, the DMHC took Kaiser to task for its failure to prepare an adequate “corrective action plan” to fix the violations identified by frontline caregivers and state regulators. The DMHC formally informed Kaiser of its findings in August of 2012. The agency released its report to the public on March 18, 2013.
    The impact of Kaiser’s violations are massive. With more than 7 million enrollees, Kaiser is the largest HMO in California and is the largest private-sector provider of mental health services in the state. It delivers care to patients with conditions that range from depression, anxiety disorders and autism to bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and suicidal ideation.
    Kaiser’s failure to meet state standards results in significant and unnecessary suffering by patients, many of whom are coping with serious trauma, are in severe emotional distress and are in acute need of timely care. According to the DMHC’s report, “If the Plan [Kaiser] does not effectively monitor wait times and ensure that enrollees are not waiting excessively for an initial appointment or between appointments with their provider, significant numbers of enrollees with untreated or prolonged health conditions may suffer harm.” (p. 10)
    “This report confirms what every Kaiser clinician knows,” said Dr. Andris Skuja, PhD, a psychologist. “Kaiser doesn’t take mental health care for its patients seriously. Our patients have serious needs. The last thing they need is for their care to be illegally curtailed by an HMO that’s already making billions in profits, just so Kaiser can make a few more pennies on the dollar at patients’ expense.”

    Read the DMHC’s report here. 
    Read the complaint from Kaiser mental health clinicians here.

    Labor Board Sets Date of April 5 for Statewide Re-run Election for Kaiser Permanente Workers Organizing to Join NUHW-CNA


    Emeryville, California — Today, the National Labor Relations Board announced a mail-in election date of April 5, 2013, for 45,000 workers at Kaiser Permanente hospitals throughout California who are organizing to leave SEIU United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers - California Nurses Association (NUHW-CNA).

    The election is a re-run of a vote held in the fall of 2010, when SEIU-UHW prevailed by violating the law and cheating with the employer. In 2011, a federal judge threw out the election results, citing unlawful conduct by Kaiser and election misconduct by SEIU-UHW.

    SEIU-UHW recently settled a contract with Kaiser that includes major cuts to workers’ pension and retiree health benefits, increased co-pays for some Kaiser employees, and allows for subcontracting of union members’ jobs. Shortly after settling the contract, SEIU-UHW met with Kaiser management and allowed the company to lay off 1,000 workers statewide.

    Thousands of Kaiser workers who already belong to NUHW, together with registered nurses represented by the California Nurses Association (CNA), have successfully resisted the cuts that SEIU-UHW officials agreed to. CNA RNs settled a contract in 2011 that includes no concessions and awards nurses a 15% raise over three years.

    Last month, NUHW affiliated with the CNA to form a united front against the cuts that SEIU-UHW accepted and to put a stop to the erosion of patient care protections and contract standards throughout California that has been the result of SEIU-UHW’s collaboration with healthcare employers at the expense of workers and its concessionary bargaining posture.

    “This is the moment we’ve been waiting years for,” said Elizabeth Carter, a Licensed Vocational Nurse at Kaiser Richmond-Pinole. “All across the state, NUHW-CNA has settled contracts with wage increases and other improvements, and no cuts. With Kaiser making higher profits than at any time in the last decade, we deserve the same. That’s why we’re voting for NUHW-CNA.”


    Statement By NUHW President Sal Rosselli on Conviction of California SEIU Leader Tyrone Freeman on All Counts of Corruption 

    EMERYVILLE — Tyrone Freeman, who personifies the Service Employees International Union’s top-down arrogant style of leadership and a pervasive culture of corruption, was convicted today of embezzling more than a million dollars of members’ dues money.

    This conviction is a vindication of the leaders and members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers who were forced out of SEIU for raising questions about corruption and their refusal of an order from then-SEIU president Andy Stern with the support of current SEIU president Mary Kay Henry and SEIU United Healthcare Workers president Dave Regan to have 65,000 California homecare workers handed over to Freeman‘s SEIU Local 6434.

    It is outrageous that Freeman funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars of union members’ dues to his relatives, paid for his wedding and entertained celebrities with expensive wine and cigars, while his hard-working members were cheated out of decent healthcare benefits and went without raises. For most, their phone calls to the union went unanswered. It’s even more outrageous that top officials in SEIU were made aware of financial problems in 6434 and its predecessor union years before this scandal broke publicly and did nothing to prevent this catastrophe because Freeman was blindly loyal to the leadership of SEIU.

    Local 6434 of SEIU, known as the United Long Term Care Workers, had more than 160,000 members under Freeman’s control. He was appointed to run this local by SEIU’s national leaders. SEIU’s structure and undemocratic practices are responsible for creating Freeman and allowing him to operate unchecked. Thousands of California healthcare workers have left or are leaving SEIU because of the corrupt practices Freeman personifies and the SEIU structure that both created and supported him.  


    NUHW and Calif. Nurses Association Formally Affiliate to Protect Patients and Fight Contract Cuts

    Two of the most powerful unions in the healthcare industry join forces to help workers halt erosion of contract standards everywhere

    OAKLAND — Four years ago, thousands of healthcare workers in California set out to reverse the steady erosion of union power in their industry by founding a principled and assertive new organization, the National Union of Healthcare Workers. In the short time since, NUHW has become the fastest-growing healthcare union in the country, counting 10,000 members and spanning every job classification in the hospital and nursing home sectors. At a time when workers throughout the country have lost ground in the face of unprecedented attacks from business interests and anti-union politicians in places like Wisconsin and Michigan, and as healthcare unions from New York to California have capitulated to employers demanding draconian cuts to wages, benefits, job protections and union rights, NUHW members have held the line against reductions to their contract standards by engaging in aggressive fights with hospital corporations, including massive statewide strikes.

    An Affiliation Whose Time Has Come

    Now, as a new year begins, NUHW members are doubling down on the strategy of defiance that has set their record of achievement apart from the downward trajectory of workplace and patient safety standards in the unionized healthcare sector by formally affiliating with the California Nurses Association (CNA), a union that shares NUHW’s commitment to defending workers and patients against rapacious hospital corporations instead of collaborating with them. The healthcare industry’s two most militant unions will work together as a single organization to lift contract standards for healthcare workers nationwide and to provide union members with an alternative to the failed labor-management partnerships that consistently sacrifice their livelihoods to the prerogative of corporate profits.

    “This is an affiliation whose time has come,” said Sal Rosselli, President of NUHW. “CNA and NUHW share the same philosophy: unions should be about empowering workers, raising contract standards and making the healthcare industry more responsive to patient needs. CNA has been a national leader in mandating nurse-to-patient ratios to keep patients safe, and in organizing RNs into a fighting force for patient care. NUHW has been a leader in organizing caregivers to fight against cuts from healthcare corporations intent on increasing profits at workers’ expense. Both CNA and NUHW are at the forefront of the fight to make sure the labor movement is about fighting for workers, not partnering with employers. Together, CNA and NUHW are capable of transforming the face of the labor movement and the healthcare industry.”

    A Critical Time for Kaiser Workers

    The NUHW-CNA affiliation comes at an especially crucial time for workers at Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest hospital corporations in the country. With their RN co-workers in the CNA, NUHW members at Kaiser have engaged in repeated statewide strikes in California to stand their ground against threatened reductions to wages, benefits and job protections that other unions at Kaiser have already agreed to in spite of four years of record profits by the HMO. Because of their demonstrated unity, Kaiser NUHW members have not been forced to accept a single contract concession, and no NUHW member has had their position slated for elimination even while Kaiser management has forced layoffs on 1,000 workers throughout the state. Meanwhile, 43,000 service and technical workers at Kaiser’s 32 California hospitals are currently organizing to join their co-workers in NUHW in an election expected in the early part of this year.

    With this new affiliation, NUHW members at Kaiser will have an infusion of new resources to win a fair contract with no reductions to their wages, benefits and job protections, and Kaiser workers organizing to join NUHW will have both new resources and an expanded cadre of skilled staff organizers who are experts in healthcare issues to help them win their election.

    A National Union Entirely of Healthcare Workers

    Though unionization of the healthcare industry has been a reality since the 1930s, the dream of a national industrial union composed exclusively of healthcare workers, combining nurses with workers in dozens of other job classifications in hospitals and nursing homes, has until now been elusive.

    The NUHW-CNA affiliation combines two unions whose sole focus is patient care and brings under a single umbrella the diversity of workers who function together as a team in the healthcare setting.

    “Whether you’re an RN, LVN, Unit Clerk, Social Worker or Respiratory Therapist, it takes a team of healthcare workers to provide high quality care,” said Yolanda Chavez, a Licensed Vocational Nurse at Kaiser Oakland who is currently organizing to join NUHW-CNA. “It makes sense for all of us to look out for our common interests by uniting in NUHW-CNA.”

    “As an NUHW member, I’m proud to belong to a union with just one focus: healthcare workers,” said Joe Zakar, a Pharmacist at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. “We know our union’s leaders are experts in our industry and we know our dues aren’t being diverted to things that have nothing to do with us.” 

    As part of NUHW-CNA, NUHW members will join the 13 million workers who belong to the AFL-CIO.

    With 10,000 healthcare workers in fewer than four years, NUHW is the nation’s fastest growing healthcare workers’ union with a proven track record of defending strong patient care contract standards. CNA represents 85,000 RNs in California and was a founder of the 185,000-strong National Nursed United, the nation’s largest union of nurses.