700,000 members of the International Association of Machinists partner with NUHW

February 21st, 2012

Three years ago at our Founding Convention in San Francisco, we established NUHW to start a new movement of healthcare workers. We set out to build an organization that would stand up for workers instead of lying down for employers, that would put members in control of our own futures, and that would refuse to settle for less than what we and our patients deserve. We set out to transform the labor movement in the healthcare industry and beyond.

Today, three years into our mission, we are very proud to announce that we have reached a new milestone in fulfilling that vision.

NUHW has reached an agreement with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) to pursue a formal relationship between our two unions and to work toward a potential future affiliation. The IAM is an affiliate of the 12 million member AFL-CIO.

This process began last November, when NUHW’s Executive Board authorized us to pursue a formal relationship with an AFL-CIO-affiliated union. We sought out an organization that placed a high value on member democracy, on fighting for and protecting workers’ contractual standards, on organizing the unorganized, and on committing the resources necessary to help NUHW unite healthcare workers in California and across the country.

In the IAM, we believe we have found the right partner to enable our members to achieve our dream of building a strong, democratic, and progressive healthcare workers union.

What does this mean for NUHW members?

In the short term, it means that we will be in an even stronger position to win at the bargaining table and to build industrial strength in the hospital and long term care industries. Immediately, the IAM will provide resources to help NUHW members settle fair contracts and to help 43,000 healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente leave SEIU and join our union in a rerun election later this year.

The relationship will also allow NUHW to work more closely with other unions in the national AFL-CIO and on a state and local level.

In the long term, an affiliation would mean that IAM’s 700,000 aerospace and transportation workers would be united with us to help us achieve our goal of transforming the healthcare industry and the labor movement.

The leaders of the IAM are eager to support our work because they share our vision and have seen the great strides NUHW members have made in three short years.

“NUHW and its leadership have a strong, national reputation for honesty, competence, integrity, and militant, democratic, progressive trade unionism,” said Gary Allen, Vice President of the IAM. “Their record of success in winning industry standard contracts and organizing the unorganized speaks volumes. For 124 years the IAM has fought hard to raise standards of living and bring forward the issues of working families in North America. The IAM shares the NUHW’s commitment to free, fair and democratic membership control of the collective bargaining process. By standing together, all of us are stronger.”

The process of determining whether to affiliate with IAM will involve the active participation of NUHW and IAM members throughout the state over the coming months. Any final recommendation regarding affiliation will be put to a vote of all NUHW members.

Over the next several months, we encourage NUHW members to participate as we determine the shape and the future of our relationship with the IAM. Attached is a fact sheet about the IAM and our joint press release.

We are looking forward to working with the IAM to help us achieve our decades-long goal of building a truly national healthcare workers movement that values democracy and transparency and that is uncompromising in its commitment to the highest standards for healthcare workers and the highest quality care for our patients.

In Unity,

Sal Rosselli and John Borsos
National Union of Healthcare Workers