Technical Workers Become First to Decertify the Failing Union
Modesto, CA – Workers at Tenet Doctors Medical Center of Modesto voted overwhelmingly today to join the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), handing another stinging loss to the struggling National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).
Facing certain defeat, NUHW withdrew from the election to represent the 12 radiology technologists in the cardiology department at the Modesto hospital, officially abandoning them after just one year. Despite their retreat, the election went forward but without NUHW on the ballot.
In early April, workers in Modesto staged a revolt against NUHW, filing to decertify the union and join SEIU-UHW after not having a single negotiating session with the hospital owner Tenet Healthcare to bargain a contract. The workers were not previously represented by any union.
“After giving NUHW a year to keep its promises, we realized we needed to make a change,” said Rajwinder Gurai, a radiology technologist at the Modesto hospital. “Today we voted 100% for SEIU-UHW. Now we’re united with more than 3,000 of our Tenet co-workers and 150,000 SEIU-UHW members to make the changes we need in our hospital and for our patients.”
More than 660 healthcare workers at Doctors Medical Center are already represented by SEIU-UHW, along with 3,000 health caregivers 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 to address key issues including patient care, staffing and working conditions.
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 for 2010) 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.