500 San Francisco homecare workers petition to join NUHW

NewsApril 1, 2009

IHSS Consortium workers join 92,000 Kaiser, hospital and nursing home workers in effort to leave SEIU and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers

SAN FRANCISCO—More than 500 homecare workers at San Francisco’s In-Home Supportive Services Consortium petitioned on Monday to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). Caregivers say they’re getting rid of their old union, SEIU, so they can stay united with the 92,000 other California healthcare workers who are also seeking to join NUHW.

“Homecare workers want to be united with hospital, clinic and nursing home workers so we have one strong voice to stand up for the people who need our care,” said Rosie Byers, a Consortium caregiver who led the effort to join NUHW. “SEIU tried to split our union in half, and gave us no say in the decisions that affect us.”

In January, SEIU demanded that California’s healthcare union force out Byers and 65,000 other homecare and nursing home workers, and make them join a separate union that would be run by SEIU staff from Washington, D.C. Homecare workers’ elected local leaders said they would only comply if workers were allowed to vote on the transfer. Instead of allowing a vote, SEIU seized control of the local union in a hostile takeover.

Since then, healthcare workers have been organizing to quit the SEIU-controlled union and stay united in NUHW. Workers have filed petitions to hold elections to join NUHW at more than 350 facilities across California, including most Bay Area hospitals and nursing homes.

Healthcare workers continue to flock to NUHW despite a widespread campaign by SEIU to mislead union members and terrorize NUHW supporters. SEIU staff have threatened workers with the loss of their pay, benefits, and jobs, and shut SEIU members out of meetings for supporting NUHW.

“NUHW is our union, led by healthcare workers who understand the work we do,” said Byers. “We’re joining to protect the gains we made over the years, by negotiating a NUHW union contract with the Consortium in June, and working together to stop unprecedented budget cuts that could hurt our homecare consumers and put our families in poverty.”

Consortium workers’ petition was filed on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board.

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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. NUHW is building a national movement of caregivers to hold healthcare corporations accountable to the public interest and win affordable, quality healthcare for all.