AUDIO: Voting underway for 2,300 Kaiser professionals to quit SEIU and join NUHW

NewsJanuary 6, 2010

Election includes 900 registered nurses at Kaiser’s largest L.A.-area hospital and 1,400 professionals across Southern California

Local audio clips and photos:

San Diego: Jim Clifford, Therapist, Kaiser San Diego
[Photo | MP3]

Los Angeles: Tessie Costales, Registered Nurse at Kaiser Sunset/LAMC
[Photo | MP3]

Inland Empire: Marty Needleman, Psychiatric Social Worker, Kaiser Fontana
[Photo | MP3]

Bakersfield: Stacy Eldridge, Registered Dietitian, Kaiser Bakersfield
[Photo | MP3]

Southern California—
Healthcare professionals at nearly one hundred Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics are voting today to switch unions. They say their old union, the Service Employees union or S-E-I-U, has shut them out of negotiations with employers—and cut deals that hurt healthcare workers and their patients.

The 2,300 workers include registered nurses, therapists, dietitians, and psychiatric social workers across Southern California. They’re part of an exodus of more than 100,000 S-E-I-U members who are organizing to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers, or N-U-H-W.

The movement began almost a year ago, when S-E-I-U officials from Washington, D.C. took over California’s healthcare union and put themselves in charge. Healthcare workers formed N-U-H-W as a way to regain control of their union and have a stronger voice at work.

A majority of Kaiser workers asked the labor board to vote on the switch last February, but the S-E-I-U was able to stall the election and stop them from leaving—until now. Registered nurses at Kaiser Sunset are voting at work today and tomorrow; other professionals are voting by mail over the next two weeks. The ballots will be counted on January 26.

An even bigger election is expected later this year, when the rest of Kaiser’s 50,000 California employees will be eligible to vote.

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Media Contact: Sadie Crabtree, 323-393-3330