WATSONVILLE — Health care workers at Watsonville Community Hospital are taking sides in the dispute between their bargaining agent, Service Employees International Union, and National Union of Healthcare Workers, an upstart organization formed in January by leaders unhappy with SEIU.
“An overwhelming majority of us have signed petitions to choose NUHW as our union,” said Kermit Butch Cole, a surgery technician for 19 years. “We need a union we can trust, where we have a voice to stand up for ourselves and our patients.”
Cole, 65, said he received a letter Monday from SEIU asking him to resign his position as shop steward, a role he’s had for 17 years. He’s not about to go quietly.
Castro Valley, Calif.—A majority of the 350 healthcare workers at Sutter Health’s Eden Medical Center have filed a petition with the labor board calling for an election to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). They say they’re joining NUHW to stay united with caregivers at more than 360 healthcare facilities across the state who are fleeing the scandal-plagued SEIU.
“In these tough economic times, we know we’re going to have to fight dangerous reductions in staffing levels, and the question is, who do we trust by our side in bargaining with Sutter?” said Katrina Bowman, an administrative assistant in the radiology department for nine years and an elected member of the bargaining team. “More than 3,000 workers at other Sutter hospitals have already chosen NUHW because NUHW is led by healthcare workers like us.”
Watsonville, Calif.—A majority of the 200 healthcare workers at Watsonville Community Hospital and 160 at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital have filed petitions for elections to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). They say they’re joining NUHW to stay united with workers at more than 360 healthcare facilities across the state who are fleeing the scandal-plagued SEIU.
“An overwhelming majority of us have signed petitions to choose NUHW as our union.” said Butch Cole, a surgical tech at Watsonville for 18 years. “We need a union we can trust, where we have a voice to stand up for ourselves and our patients.”
The vote could split about 2,800 members from the 4,500 workers in the county represented by SEIU 521. If hospital and county employees approve the change, governments would need to negotiate contracts with another union.
“We requested the vote because we would like to have a choice,” said Malia Esteban, a county court liaison. “We want to make our own informed decision.”
A growing battle between labor giant Service Employees International Union and a new union that broke away from the SEIU fold will be played out among thousands of Monterey County’s government employees.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers, an Oakland union formed in January by leaders who split from the SEIU, filed petitions this week for an election to decide whether employees in two bargaining units for county government workers will switch from SEIU Local 521 to the new union.