Hospital Workers Revolt Against NUHW

Technical Workers at Doctors Medical Center of Modesto File Petition to Decertify NUHW; Southern California Kaiser Nurses Circulate Petition to Leave Struggling Union

Modesto, CA–Problems continue to mount for the struggling National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) as a group of technical workers at Tenet Doctors Medical Center of Modesto filed a petition April 11 with the National Labor Relations Board to leave NUHW and join Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU-UHW). Registered nurses at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles are also circulating a petition to decertify after NUHW has failed to make progress in bargaining a contract there.

NUHW has represented the 12 radiology technicians in the Cardiology department at Doctors Medical Center of Modesto since April 2010, but has not had a single negotiating session with the hospital owner Tenet Healthcare to bargain a contract. The workers were not previously represented by any union.

More than 660 healthcare workers at Doctors Medical Center are already represented by SEIU-UHW.

“We’re thrilled to welcome these workers into our union,” said Karen Cain, an SEIU-UHW member and respiratory therapist at Tenet Doctors Medical Center of Modesto. “Together in SEIU-UHW, we’ll all have the strength to negotiate a contract with important protections to quality care and working conditions.”

More than 3,000 health caregivers are united in SEIU-UHW at nine Tenet facilities in California: Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, Doctors Medical Center of Modesto, Doctors Hospital of Manteca, JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio, Lakewood Regional Medical Center, Los Alamitos Medical Center, San Ramon Regional Medical Center, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, and Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton. SEIU-UHW members are currently in negotiations for a new contract at Tenet facilities statewide.

These are just the latest setbacks for NUHW since it’s founding more than two years ago. Most recently, NUHW lost an election bid for workers at Prime Centinela Medical Center in Inglewood, Calif. in March, where workers voted 421 for SEIU-UHW to just seven for NUHW. They have not negotiated a single contract for any worker they represent, and the workers they represent have faced a series of cutbacks and layoffs.

NUHW was created by former SEIU-UHW officials who were removed from office for misusing millions in union funds and violating members’ democratic rights. In April 2010, a federal jury ordered NUHW and its leaders to pay a combined $1.57 million in damages to the members of SEIU-UHW.

A recent financial report filed by NUHW with the federal government (LM-2 for2010) reveals that the organization is in deep trouble, owing $2.9 million in outstanding loans and debt, and is collecting virtually no dues. Several high-level staff members have also left in recent months, yet another indication that the organization is failing.

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