OAKLAND – The avalanche of losses by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) mounted in January, sending the troubled union into a tailspin. Just days after Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) members’ win at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center on January 21, NUHW cancelled two elections on January 24 covering more than 750 workers at Covenant and Evergreen nursing home chains to avoid further losses.
“With NUHW out of the picture, SEIU-UHW members feel relieved. Now we don’t have to worry about another union trying to take over and put at risk everything we’ve worked so hard to win,” said Anthony Otero, a laundry aide at Evergreen’s Katherine Healthcare Center in Salinas.
Of the 131,350 SEIU-UHW members who had a choice between SEIU-UHW and NUHW in the past two years, more than 124,750, or more than 95%, have voted to stay in SEIU-UHW. None of the SEIU-UHW members who have gone to NUHW have a union contract today. They have lost out on raises, their benefits are in jeopardy, and they have taken layoffs that NUHW was unable to stop.
The Covenant and Evergreen elections are the fifth and sixth huge defeats in January alone for NUHW. On January 21, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) counted the votes in SEIU-UHW’s win at Alta Bates Medical Center. On January 14, to avoid certain defeat, NUHW withdrew from a union election among 1,000 Grancare nursing home workers at 10 facilities. On January 11, NUHW withdrew from the union election among 900 healthcare workers at Daughters of Charity’s Seton Medical Center in Daly City and Seton Coastside in Moss Beach scheduled for January 13 and 14. On January 6, NUHW withdrew from the union election among more than 200 healthcare workers at Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo.
January’s election wins come on the heels of SEIU-UHW’s victory in October 2010 among 44,000 Kaiser Permanente workers and could be a knockout blow to NUHW, the group started by former officials of SEIU-UHW who were removed from office two years ago for misusing millions in union funds.
NUHW’s attempt to overturn the results of last October’s union election at Kaiser is fading fast. Last week, the NLRB ruled that 88 of the 118 objections to the election do not merit a hearing, a major step toward certifying the overwhelming vote by 43,500 Kaiser Permanente workers to remain members of SEIU-UHW. The objections were filed by NUHW after they lost the election to SEIU-UHW by a margin of 18,290 (61%) to 11,364 (37%). A hearing will be held February 7 on the remaining charges, which are without merit.
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.