Caregivers choose NUHW at CCMS

NewsApril 23, 2010

Workers pull off another upset despite SEIU’s last-minute bid to stop election; Foresight workers demand elections at six other nursing homes

SAN FRANCISCO—Workers at a Foresight-owned nursing home voted 23 to 16 today to change their union from SEIU to the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), a member-led union established by healthcare workers after SEIU’s takeover of their local union.

“We’ve taken our union back,” said Marilyn Aquino, a certified nursing assistant for seven years at Convalescent Center Mission Street (CCMS). “They told us we couldn’t do it, but we did. I’m so happy we won and that we have a voice in our workplace again.”

The win at CCMS comes after another hard-fought victory at Prison Health Services earlier this week. After SEIU’s embarassing loss at Prison Health Services—an election SEIU officials were confident they could win—SEIU’s lawyers contacted the National Labor Relations Board to beg for the CCMS election to be postponed. The board refused.

For more than a year, SEIU has been trying to block elections for thousands of healthcare workers across California who want to take back their union by joining NUHW. In January, after a string of landslide votes for NUHW, SEIU tried to catch up by asking the labor board to let them proceed with elections only where they were confident they could win.

SEIU has now lost two out of the first three of their hand-picked elections, and the third was so close the outcome will only be determined by a runoff or contested ballots.

Workers are renewing their call for SEIU to allow democratic votes at the rest of the hospitals and nursing homes. While SEIU allowed the CCMS election because they thought they could win, they are still blocking elections at six other Foresight nursing homes where they know there is strong support for NUHW.

“They split up the Foresight nursing homes so they could divide us,” said Dexter Deluna, a certified nursing assistant at Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living, where SEIU has is still blocking workers’ election. “The vote at CCMS shows that we want to stay united. SEIU should let us all vote, but they know they can’t win against all of us together.”

Despite SEIU’s efforts, 60,000 workers are expected to vote this year to choose between NUHW and SEIU, including nearly 900 hospital workers in Salinas whose election began yesterday.

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The National Union of Healthcare Workers is California’s fastest-growing union, representing caregivers in every job classification. More than 100,000 workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and Kaiser Permanente facilities have petitioned for elections to join NUHW and win a strong, democratic voice at work. |