1,600 Southern California hospital workers: “We’re through with corrupt SEIU”

NewsSeptember 24, 2009

Labor leaders have united against SEIU power-grabs—and so have the union’s members 

LOS ANGELES—A majority of workers at four Southern California hospitals have petitioned to leave the scandal-plagued SEIU and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) instead.

“We need a union where healthcare workers have a voice to raise standards for ourselves and our patients,” said Richard Saillant, a stationary engineer at Olympia Medical Center. “We’re through with corrupt SEIU leaders who are only out for themselves.”

The exodus comes at a time when the SEIU is wracked with troubles, both internal and external.

Just last week, a former Los Angeles SEIU president pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges, making him one of five SEIU officials to be implicated in corruption scandals in the last year alone (LA Times: http://is.gd/3vsjh). And just days ago, the hotel and garment worker’s union Unite Here—a former SEIU ally and the latest target of SEIU’s corporate-style takeovers—was welcomed back into the AFL-CIO amid vows by other labor leaders to defend its members from outside attacks.

In January, SEIU seized control of California’s healthcare union in a separate hostile takeover—removing the local union’s elected officers, rank-and-file executive board, and more than 2,000 shop stewards who were the members’ first line of defense to protect jobs and wages.

Since then, more than 100,000 healthcare workers have petitioned to quit SEIU and join NUHW, an independent union formed by their democratically elected leaders.

This week’s petitions, filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), will trigger elections for 1,600 caregivers to vote to join NUHW at Garden Grove Hospital, Providence Tarzana Medical Center, USC Medical Center, and Olympia Medical Center.

“NUHW was founded by healthcare workers, for healthcare workers,” said Saillant. “Why would we put our jobs in the hands of SEIU dictators in Washington, D.C. who have never worked a day in our hospitals? There’s no question which kind of union we want to be part of.”

Some of the workers at USC University Hospital are currently members of “Service Workers United,” an SEIU side project to recruit members by offering sweetheart deals to employers. The Wall Street Journal exposed Service Workers United last year for trading away workers’ rights in secret agreements that not even the affected workers are allowed to see (http://is.gd/3vnoU).

Hospital details:

  • Providence Tarzana Regional Medical Center
    16237 Ventura Boulevard, Encino, CA 91436
    Approximately 450 workers
  • Olympia Medical Center
    5900 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
    Approximately 330 workers
  • Garden Grove Hospital and Medical Center
    12601 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, CA 92843
    Approximately 315 workers
  • USC University Hospital
    1500 San Pablo St, Los Angeles, CA 90033
    Approximately 500 workers in main bargaining unit and 65 Sodexho food service employees


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The National Union of Healthcare Workers is an independent, member-led union, dedicated to improving the lives of healthcare workers and the people they care for. More than 100,000 workers in hospitals, Kaiser Permanente facilities, homecare, and nursing homes have petitioned to join NUHW since January 2009.