Voting for SEIU-UHW Will Retain Best Pay, Benefits, Job Protections in Healthcare Industry
Oakland, Calif. – The majority of Kaiser Permanente caregivers voting in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election that starts this week have pledged to vote for Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU-UHW), according to member-organizers across California who have collected pledge cards from their co-workers.
“I’m voting for SEIU-UHW to protect our guaranteed raises, family health insurance and job security,” said Les Harris, a physical therapy assistant at Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center for 22 years. “We’ve made our jobs some of the best in the industry by working together in our union, SEIU-UHW. Why would we risk all of that and have to re-bargain our contract? Not now, not in this economy.”
Another union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) is seeking to represent Kaiser workers and filed a petition with the NLRB that triggered the mail ballot election. Ballots will be mailed to 43,000 union members on September 13, are due back to the NLRB offices in Oakland on October 4 and will be counted October 6.
Thousands of SEIU-UHW members at Kaiser backed their elected 121-member SEIU-UHW negotiating team to win a new two-year national agreement that goes into effect October 1, 2010 and guarantees 9% wage increases, family healthcare with no cost increases and job security protections not found anywhere else in the industry.
“SEIU-UHW is the union we’ve built at Kaiser over the last 65 years and we’re uniting as never before to keep it that way,” said Jon Duff, a lead respiratory therapist at Kaiser Vallejo, who is one of thousands of member-organizers working on the statewide campaign.
NUHW is led by former SEIU leaders who were removed from office in January 2009 for illegally misusing members’ dues money. NUHW leaders were found liable by a federal jury and ordered to repay SEIU-UHW members $1.57 million in damages. NUHW recently filed a motion to indefinitely delay payment, claiming they do not have the resources and would face bankruptcy if they are forced to comply with the award–but their motion was denied.