With Latest Loss, Group’s Challenge to SEIU Effectively Over
Oakland, Calif. — Workers at Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) across California delivered another major blow to the already besieged National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) this week by refusing to sign NUHW petitions to decertify their current union.
Despite vowing for months that they would win at CHW, NUHW officials failed to even muster the minimum signatures needed to put the matter to a vote among workers at the 28-hospital, 14,000-member CHW health system. Thirty percent of affected employees have to sign a petition in order for the National Labor Relations Board to order an election.
With this latest development, 138,750 out of 145,350 members of the Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) have rejected NUHW, effectively ending the two-year challenge by the former officials of SEIU-UHW, who formed NUHW after being removed from office for misusing millions of members’ dues money. So far this year alone, more than 17,240 workers have chosen SEIU-UHW, compared to just 83 for NUHW.
“This fight is over,” said Dave Regan, SEIU-UHW Trustee. “Workers have emphatically rejected NUHW’s attempt to take away their long-time union. NUHW officials haven’t won a contract for a single member, NUHW is millions in debt, and most of their staff have left to get on with their lives.”
Federal law allowed for a 30-day window period when CHW workers could file to decertify their union. That period expired Jan. 31, 2011.
“We’re just glad this is settled and NUHW is gone,” said Cindy Hackman, a Ward Clerk at CHW St. Bernardine Medical Center. “I helped to form our union ten years ago, and I’m relieved to know that our contract, our benefits, and our voice on the job are protected. We’re moving forward to make more improvements in our hospitals and for our patients by staying united in our union, SEIU-UHW.”
The failure to even file for an election at Catholic Healthcare West is just the latest in a string of defeats in 2011 for NUHW. Facing certain defeat in January, NUHW withdrew from union elections at Covenant, Evergreen, and Grancare nursing homes across Northern California, at Daughters of Charity’s Seton and Seton Coastside Medical Centers, and at Sutter Solano Medical Center. Finally, workers at Sutter Alta Bates Medical Center voted to stay in SEIU-UHW in an NLRB-supervised election on Jan. 21. These latest SEIU-UHW election wins come on the heels of the victory in October 2010 among 44,000 Kaiser Permanente workers in the largest union election in the United States in 70 years.