Workers seek a voice with NUHW after SEIU and Unite Here abandoned them in secret deal with employer
LOS ANGELES—Workers employed through a subcontractor at Providence Tarzana Medical Center, who were denied their right to form a union by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Unite Here in a secret deal with the Compass Group, filed petitions today for an election to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).
“Everyone in this hospital should be able to join together and choose what union we’ll be part of,” said Julia Sidrow-Thompson, an SEIU member and monitor tech who works at Providence Tarzana. “I don’t want to be part of an organization that would take that decision away from healthcare workers and let the boss make those decisions for us.”
Scheduled to air Feb. 27, 2009, 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM PST on San Francisco Comcast Channel 29.
With a Democratic majority in Congress, an economy in meltdown and what many see as the most labor-friendly White House in generations, unions would seem to be poised for a comeback. Experts say they are at a defining moment to rebuild their forces by putting their strength behind an effort to revamp labor laws.
At the center of the dispute is the issue of how democratically unions are run, how well they represent the interests of the members, and the pace at which the union grows. The International wanted to take all of the homecare workers (including about 8,000 in Fresno) out of UHW and put them into a mega-local that represented homecare workers throughout the state. UHW leadership fought the International, because they believed the contracts they won for homecare workers were better than the wages and benefits they would receive through the new mega-local. When UHW put the issue to a vote late last year, 98% of those who cast a ballot wanted to stay with the UHW.
In late January, the International sent UHW an ultimatum demanding that homecare workers be transferred into the new mega-union. When UHW leadership responded that they would be willing to cooperate with the transfer if their members were allowed to hold a democratic vote on the matter, the International put them into a trusteeship and removed the elected leadership of UHW.
Outside SEIU UHW-W’s Oakland office on Wednesday, caregivers protested SEIU’s retaliation against members and called for an end to SEIU’s delay tactics to prevent us from joining NUHW, the union we trust.