Alta Bates Summit election ballots impounded pending investigation of misconduct by SEIU, Sutter Health, and an NLRB agent

Eye on SEIUDecember 10, 2015

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has impounded the ballots following a Dec. 8-9 union election at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center pending the results of an investigation of misconduct by Sutter Health, SEIU–UHW, and an agent in the NLRB’s Region 32 office.

NUHW, which competed with SEIU–UHW in the election to represent 850 Alta Bates Summit workers, filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the NLRB after SEIU and Sutter Health illegally distributed false, coercive messages to the workforce regarding the election. Sutter Health repeated and amplified SEIU’s false and threatening message that workers would lose their current contract and put their wages and benefits at risk if they voted to switch unions.

NUHW also filed an objection with the NLRB claiming that an agent in the NLRB’s Region 32 (Oakland) office further spread this false and coercive message to workers who were instructed by SEIU to call the NLRB to inquire whether their contract was at risk in the election. Seven workers have offered to provide the NLRB with affidavits regarding the agent’s conduct. The investigation will be conducted by the NLRB’s Region 20 (San Francisco) office.

Federal law dictates that the current union contract remains in place during and following a union election and bars the employer from making any changes to the contract without bargaining with the new union. It is also illegal for an employer to threaten workers with wage and benefit freezes or cuts.

“Sutter and SEIU colluded and lied to us,” said Andrea Garcia, an environmental services worker at the hospital. “Sutter’s illegal actions, SEIU’s fear tactics, and the Labor Board’s misrepresentation of the law tainted our fair choice in this election.”

The NLRB’s Region 20 office will investigate the charges and determine whether to count the ballots or schedule another election.

“We have a right to a fair election free of intimidation and lies,” said Keesha Johnson, patient transport. “It’s outrageous that Sutter and SEIU would blatantly lie to workers to prevent them from voting for the union of our choice.”