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.
“SEIU told us a merger would make us stronger, but they dismantled our local union and replaced our union reps with a call center in Pasadena. They’re not giving us the support we need to stop the budget cuts and protect vital public services in our communities. We need a union that is accountable to workers here in Monterey County, not just to SEIU officials in Washington, D.C.”
Salinas Californian: 2,800 Monterey County health & service workers petition to dump SEIU, join NUHW
Workers say forced union merger in 2007 left them with no voice and weak representation
SALINAS—More than 2,800 Monterey County employees have petitioned to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The group includes around 800 healthcare workers at Natividad Medical Center as well as 911 dispatchers, child support workers, sanitation workers, and other public service employees who are currently represented by SEIU Local 521.
“SEIU told us a merger would make us stronger, but they dismantled our local union and replaced our union reps with a call center in Pasadena,” said Malia Esteban, a court liaison with the Department of Child Support Services for more than 16 years. “They’re not giving us the support we need to stop the budget cuts and protect vital public services in our communities. We need a union that is accountable to workers here in Monterey County, not just to SEIU officials in Washington, D.C.”