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    NUHW Representative Files Suit Against SEIU Workplace Bullies for Assault and Battery

    Vallejo, California — On the same day that SEIU President Mary Kay Henry is appearing at a “Freedom From Workplace Bullies Week” event in Washington DC, a lawsuit is being filed in California against three SEIU shop stewards for bullying a representative of another union at the workplace.

    A representative for the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) at Kaiser Vallejo Medical Center filed suit today against three union stewards with the Service Employees International Union - United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) for assault and battery. 

    On July 20, NUHW representative Gloria Watkins was surrounded by over two dozen SEIU-UHW stewards in the hallway of Kaiser Permanente’s Vallejo Medical Center, and was then verbally and physically attacked by the angry mob. According to the lawsuit, the SEIU stewards, while on Kaiser’s paid time, encircled Ms. Watkins, clapping and chanting in a hostile manner, deliberately causing her to fear for her safety. After Ms. Watkins sat down on a bench, one of the stewards sat beside her and repeatedly struck her in the torso with her elbow for about five minutes straight, while continuing the volley of verbal harassment. Kaiser security officers and managers witnessed the incident and did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit alleges.

    This is the second legal challenge SEIU partisans have faced this year for bullying political dissidents. In August, a California government agency released an official complaint against SEIU-UHW for engaging in “menacing and abusive behavior” toward homecare workers in Fresno who supported NUHW. (To hear homecare workers describe these incidents themselves, watch this video.)

    Kaiser workers see the same pattern of behavior by SEIU agents and stewards every day.

    Ever since SEIU-UHW negotiated a union contract with Kaiser Permanente full of cuts to benefits and job security protections for 45,000 caregivers, SEIU members have been organizing to leave their union and join NUHW, which represents several thousand Kaiser workers statewide. SEIU-UHW has responded by launching a relentless communications campaign designed to vilify NUHW, its leaders and its supporters, and by training SEIU loyalists to isolate, harass and intimidate Kaiser workers who publicly support NUHW.

    Kaiser management has a special relationship with SEIU-UHW in which the employer promotes the union publicly as a “partner” of the corporation while SEIU officers assist Kaiser by using their political relationships to market the HMO’s services and by allowing cuts to workers’ benefits to help Kaiser’s profitability. Many employees consider the “partnership” comparable to the relationships between employers and company-dominated unions in authoritarian countries like China.

    “There is no bigger workplace bully than SEIU,” said Sal Rosselli, President of NUHW. “SEIU has made workplace bullying to silence dissenting voices into a high art form. Harassment, intimidation and even physical assault are among SEIU’s go-to tactics to repress the political speech of those who challenge their philosophy of colluding with employers and selling workers short to expand their resources and power. If SEIU is serious about stopping workplace bullying, they can begin by looking in the mirror.”

    Under California’s Bane Act, it is illegal to intimidate or threaten violence against an individual in order to impede him or her from exercising his or her constitutional right to freely associate. Under the state’s Ralph Act, individuals have the right to be free of violence or the threat of violence based upon their position in a labor dispute.


    NUHW Secures Expanded Worksite Access for Worker Organizers through Labor Board Decision

    Emeryville, California — The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has rejected a request by Keck Medical Center of USC and Sodexo America LLC to reconsider a July NLRB Decision and Order which found that the hospital had violated the National Labor Relations Act by unfairly restricting worksite access by off-duty employees in a way that discriminated against employees engaging in union activity.

    The decision marks a rare and significant advance in the rights of workers to organize a union. The NLRB’s ruling affirms that employers must craft clear off-duty worksite access policies and apply them fairly and consistently instead of leaving them so vague as to afford managers broad leeway to improvise excuses to squelch workers’ rights to freely associate.

    The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) prompted this landmark ruling when it contested Keck Medical Center’s discriminatory treatment of four of its employees who were NUHW supporters and who entered the worksite while off duty.

    In the July decision, the Board majority argued that Keck Medical Center’s policy was overly broad, and unfairly allowed management to bar workers from the facility simply for exercising their protected rights to organize.

    “It isn’t often that the NLRB makes a decision that advances workers’ rights instead of abridging them,” said Ruben Duran, a Pulmonary Function Tech at Keck. “It only happened because we belong to a union that believes in standing up for workers when we’re bullied by management instead backing down or, worse, siding with employers against union members.”

    Mission Neighborhood Caregivers Vote to Leave SEIU and Join NUHW as Alta Bates Summit Workers Prepare to Follow

    SAN FRANCISCO — Today, in a vote of 43 to 2, 49 workers at Mission Neighborhood Health Center (MNHC) in San Francisco became the newest members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

    Before today, MNHC caregivers were members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Unhappy with SEIU’s poor representation and employer-friendly approach to bargaining, workers demonstrated such clear majority support for NUHW that SEIU disclaimed interest in the bargaining unit and left the election uncontested.

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the Bay, a supermajority of SEIU-represented healthcare workers at Sutter Health-owned Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (ABSMC) in Berkeley and Oakland filed petitions yesterday with the National Labor Relations Board for an election to leave SEIU and join NUHW. About 1,100 ABSMC workers will participate in the election.

    In 2009, SEIU managers in Washington DC took control of the ABSMC workers’ local union, United Healthcare Workers West (UHW), in a hostile takeover to quash rank-and-file dissent over SEIU’s lack of internal democracy and its cozy relationships with hospital corporations.

    Since the takeover, representation of workers has all but disappeared at ABSMC, workers’ contract provisions have gone unenforced, and SEIU has settled substandard contract agreements that include wage freezes, healthcare benefit reductions and other giveaways to management. In its recent contract settlement, SEIU allowed management to subcontract ten percent of the workforce with more to come, and took steps toward establishing a ‘wellness program’ that penalizes workers for not meeting personal health benchmarks, just as SEIU has done at Kaiser Permanente and Dignity Health.

    Earlier this year, about 750 UHW members at ABSMC’s sister hospital in San Francisco, Sutter-owned California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), freed themselves from SEIU’s control by voting to bolt SEIU and join NUHW. ABSMC workers will soon have the chance to follow their CPMC co-workers’ lead.

    “We’re tired of SEIU’s refusal to represent members or enforce our contract,” said Bernard Griffin, a Surgical Services Aide at ABSMC’s Summit campus in Oakland. “We’ve had it with SEIU’s backroom deals with management. We know that as NUHW members, we’ll settle a contract with raises and NO takeaways, just as NUHW has done all over the state.”

    ABSMC employees are preparing to join with thousands of other Bay Area caregivers in addition to those at CPMC and MNHC who have voted to switch from SEIU to NUHW in the last 24 months, including workers at Children’s Hospital Oakland, Doctors Medical Center San Pablo, Kindred Hospital San Leandro, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, San Francisco Nursing Center, The Sequoias Portola Valley, and mental health and optical workers at Kaiser Permanente clinics and medical centers.

    ABSMC workers covered by the upcoming election include housekeepers, nursing aides, licensed vocational nurses, clerical workers, patient transporters and distribution workers.

    State Labor Board Cites SEIU for "Abusive Behavior" and "Physical Threats" in 2009 Fresno Homecare Election

    FRESNO — The California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) released an official complaint yesterday against the Service Employees International Union - United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) for intimidating voters in a 2009 union election in Fresno, California between SEIU-UHW and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

    SEIU-UHW agents engaged in “menacing and abusive behavior,” including “kicking in a bargaining unit member’s screen door,” “threatening to physically assault” NUHW supporters and “tearing down and defacing” NUHW signs “on the private property of bargaining unit members,” according to the complaint.

    SEIU-UHW also “engaged in campaign misrepresentations by falsely telling bargaining unit members that, as a consequence of voting for (NUHW), they would: (1) lose their health insurance; (2) lose their place on the Kaiser Health Plan waiting list; (3) have their wages reduced to $8.00 an hour; and/or (4) lose their jobs entirely.”

    SEIU-UHW’s campaign of intimidation and harassment was directed at impoverished homecare workers, some of whom were undocumented and spoke little English. In several cases, SEIU-UHW agents threatened to call immigration enforcement on workers who refused to pledge their ballots to SEIU-UHW.

    See this video from 2009 of workers describing SEIU-UHW’s misconduct:

    Last year, a federal judge found SEIU-UHW guilty of making similar threats and misrepresentations in its campaign against NUHW in a separate 2010 statewide election for 45,000 Kaiser Permanente workers. Because of SEIU-UHW’s gross misconduct, the judge threw out the results of the election. A new election is expected to be scheduled at Kaiser by the end of the year. SEIU-UHW, however, is already engaging in the same misconduct as it did in 2010.


    Workers at Hazel Hawkins Hospital Vote to Bolt SEIU and Join NUHW 

    OAKLAND — Today, 175 healthcare workers at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister, California who formerly belonged to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) became the newest members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). The Public Employment Relations Board concluded its vote count this morning with a tally of 75 for NUHW, 61 for SEIU and two votes for “No Union.”

     This is the second NUHW victory this week in the California Central Coast region. On Wednesday, 18 pharmacists at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH) who joined NUHW three months ago settled a contract with no takeaways, reduced healthcare costs, and reinstatement of a defined benefit pension plan that management had taken from them before they joined the union.

    In an earlier election in 2009, workers at Hazel Hawkins voted to remain SEIU members. In the intervening three years, they witnessed SEIU’s chronic failure to represent workers adequately and SEIU leaders’ cozy relationships with hospital administrators. In this respect, their experience mirrors that of workers at Kaiser Permanente hospitals throughout the state, where more than 40,000 employees voted in 2010 to stay with SEIU in an election that was thrown out in federal court due to election misconduct by SEIU and Kaiser. At Kaiser, as at Hazel Hawkins, support for NUHW has grown exponentially since the last election in response to SEIU’s failure to represent workers and unwillingness to protect members’ benefits at the bargaining table, and in response to NUHW’s string of contract victories at places like SVMH and Keck Medical Center of USC. Kaiser workers will vote again on whether to leave SEIU and join NUHW later this year.

    “We’re so glad to be out of SEIU and back in a union that fights for workers instead of making shady back room deals with management that put our benefits at risk,” said Patsy Meyers, a housekeeper at Hazel Hawkins.

    NUHW members at Hazel Hawkins include Certified Nursing Aides, housekeepers and food service workers.

    NUHW Pharmacists Win Contract Victory at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital

    Workers win 4% increases, regain pension after joining union

    Salinas, California — Three months after joining the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), eighteen previously non-union pharmacists at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH) have won a contract that extends to August 2013.

    The pharmacists’ contract includes no takeaways and:

    • 4% wage increases for the term of the agreement - the first raises pharmacists have received in four years
    • the reinstatement of their defined benefit pension plan, which management took away prior to their joining NUHW
    • reduced healthcare costs
    • stronger scheduling language

    “Thanks to the hard work of our union, NUHW, we were able to finalize a contract that protects our jobs, benefits and retirement,” said Joe Zakar, a Pharmacist for six years at SVMH.

    NUHW members’ victories at SVMH stand in stark contrast to major concessions agreed to by SEIU-UHW at the nearby Daughters of Charity Health System-owned St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy, where workers have seen their defined benefit pension eliminated, two-tier retirement benefits erected, and deep cuts to their health benefits and on-call pay. SEIU-UHW has also agreed to takeaways impacting tens of thousands of workers at Kaiser Permanente and Dignity Health.

    SVMH pharmacists joined NUHW after 700 of their co-workers engaged in a year-long struggle to win a fair contract at the hospital, including waging a massive strike, fighting back threatened layoffs and bringing national attention and a state audit to excessive executive compensation practices approved by the hospital’s Board of Directors. Those workers, also members of NUHW, won a contract with raises and no concessions after leaving SEIU.

    On Thursday the 28th, the SVMH Board of Directors will vote to approve the tentative agreement. NUHW members will vote to ratify it the following Monday.


    Workers at Children's Hospital Oakland Vote to Bolt SEIU and Join NUHW

    OAKLAND - Three years after petitioning the National Labor Relations Board for an election to leave the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), about 450 employees of Children’s Hospital Oakland (CHO) finally belong to the union of their choice.

    In a decisive vote yesterday of 183 for NUHW to 135 for SEIU-UHW (with 7 votes for “No Union”), CHO caregivers chose NUHW as their union.

    “For three years, we were trapped in a union that ignored our problems on the job, gave away our hard-fought contract standards to management, and only cared about collecting our dues,” said Ruth Kees, a Clinical Lab Assistant III at Children’s. “Now, finally, we belong to NUHW, a union that workers control and that’s willing to stand up to management. It took a long time to get here, but we couldn’t be happier with this outcome.”

    Children’s Hospital workers include Housekeepers, Certified Nursing Assistants, Licensed Vocational Nurses and Respiratory Care Practitioners.

    Fresno Homecare Workers Speak Out on SEIU Election Misconduct

    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.

    After 9-year Struggle, Santa Rosa Memorial Caregivers Reach Contract Settlement

    Santa Rosa, California - On Tuesday night, workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital (SRMH) reached a tentative agreement with management for a union contract with across-the-board wage increases, improved retirement benefits, seniority rights, just cause rights, employment security protections, representation rights, and other workplace protections and improvements.

    The agreement caps a nine-year effort by Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital employees to win union recognition and a fair labor contract. 

    The nearly 700 formerly non-union workers initially attempted to organize a union through SEIU United Healthcare Workers - West, but were abandoned by SEIU after the union’s Washington DC leadership initiated a hostile takeover of the local union, UHW.  Defying SEIU’s attempt to assist management in persuading workers to vote for “No Union” rather than join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), workers voted to join NUHW in December 2009 in the nation’s biggest hospital organizing victory of that year.

    Following their vote to join NUHW, the employer held up government certification of the election for over a year.

    The organizing campaign at SRMH is the subject of a recent book entitled “With God On Our Side.”

    “It’s been nine long years, but now that we have a great contract, it’s been worth every minute of it,” said Anne Beach, a Surgical Database Specialist at SRMH. “Our experience shows that when you stick together and you don’t give up, you win.  That’s what NUHW is all about.”

    “I’ve been proud to stand with labor and community members, elected officials and religious leaders in support of caregivers at Santa Rosa Memorial,” said Lisa Maldonado, Executive Director of the North Bay Labor Council.  “These caregivers are an integral part of our community. They’re the people who care for us and our loved ones when we’re sick. They deserve to be treated fairly and respected for the vital work they do. This agreement is the culmination of a long struggle and I’m excited about the achievement that this contract represents.”

    Workers will vote to ratify the agreement next week.

    USC Caregivers Reach Agreement on Labor Contract with Raises and No Takeaways

    LOS ANGELES - Members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) at Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California (USC) reached a tentative agreement with hospital management this morning for a collective bargaining agreement with no takeaways and with raises of between 9.75 and 33 percent over the term of the contract.

    The tentative agreement includes fully employer-paid health insurance, a ban on subcontracting and improvements to retirement benefits, paid time off and other provisions. Workers will vote to ratify the agreement next week.

    In May 2010, about 700 workers at what was at the time called USC University Hospital voted to bolt the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and join NUHW.

    Since becoming NUHW members, USC workers have engaged in a concerted fight to win a contract that rewarded workers fairly and safeguarded patient care standards. Over the last fourteen months, USC employees carried out an informational picket and a 24 hour strike, and voted to authorize a second 24 hour strike if progress was not made toward a fair contract.

    Hospital management demanded numerous concessions, including removing a ban on subcontracting and introducing a merit pay system to replace seniority-based wage scales. None of those concessions are included in the tentative agreement.

    The agreement that USC workers reached this morning is in stark contrast to recent contracts settled by the union they voted to leave. Over the last three years, SEIU has agreed to over $1.6 billion in contract concessions in California alone.

    “This agreement is proof positive that when workers stay united and stand up for ourselves, we can win a fair contract with raises and no takeaways,” said Julio Estrada, a Respiratory Therapist at USC. “We don’t have to give up our benefits just because the employer says so. NUHW is a fighting union, and that’s why we won.”