The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has just thrown out the results of the September/October 2010 representation election at Kaiser Permanente, the huge California based Health Maintenance Organization. The ruling, by an administrative law judge, has handed California healthcare workers a stunning victory. In that election, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) defeated the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), the new union challenging SEIU in the healthcare industry. The 2010 election – involving 43,000 Kaiser service and tech workers - was marred by a SEIU campaign of lies, fear and intimidation. The election itself was estimated to have cost SEIU between $20 and $40 million dollars – more than $500 per vote.
NUHW appealed, charging SEIU and Kaiser with a host of unfair labor practices, above all with collusion in denying service and technical workers a free and fair choice election, relying, crucially, on Kaiser’s illegal decision in 2010 to withhold scheduled wage increases for new southern California NUHW members.
In her July 18, 2011 decision, Washington DC Judge Lana H. Parke ruled that SEIU had indeed “interfered with unit employee’s free and uncoerced choice in the election.” Underscoring the significance of her ruling, Judge Parke explained, “The Board does not lightly set aside representational elections…There is a strong presumption that ballots cast under specific NLRB procedural safeguards reflect the true desires of the employees.” She then ordered a new election so that workers will have “the right to cast their ballots as they see fit…in the exercise of this right free from interference…”
The vote, taken in September/October 2010 was the largest union election in the US in the last seven decades.
NUHW spokesman Leighton Akio Woodhouse hailed the decision as a “total victory for our members – SEIU’s whole campaign was dependent on Kaiser’s violation of the law.”
Read the full article at Beyond Chron.