Healthcare workers gathered at Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Bellflower in Los Angeles to announce that a majority had chosen NUHW as their union.
Tens of thousands of Kaiser Permanente’s California workers have signed a petition to leave United Healthcare Workers West and join the newly formed National Union of Healthcare Workers, officials announced Thursday.
The 50,000-employee bargaining unit is one of the largest among the nation’s private-sector employers, and taking it over would be a significant coup for the newly formed NUHW. The group was created last month by former leaders of the UHW after the Oakland-based local was placed under trusteeship by its parent organization, the Service Employees International Union, marking the culmination of a long-running feud.
Even as stars have aligned in Washington to pass health care reform, a civil war has broken out in the nation’s biggest health care union, with unpredictable results.
Two leaders of what was until a month ago California’s United Healthcare Workers West — a 150,000-member local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — spoke Thursday night at Yale’s Ezra Stiles College as part of Yale’s Initiative on Labor and Culture.
San Francisco Sentinel: 50,000 Kaiser Permanente caregivers file to leave SEIU, join National Union of Healthcare Workers
“We need stability, democracy, and a union we can trust,” said Bebs Nonato, a registered nurse at Kaiser’s Los Angeles Medical Center.
“SEIU tried to move nurses at my hospital back and forth between three different local unions in five years. They pushed us around like furniture, and ignored our voices and votes. We’re building a stronger union in NUHW, with healthcare workers in control.”
“We’re joining NUHW because it’s the only way to protect the gains that Kaiser workers have made together over the last 65 years. If we’d stayed in SEIU we would have no voice at all.”
—Mell Garcia, medical assistant at Kaiser in Hayward