Andy Stern, SEIU international president, has trusteed the 150,000 local, United Healthcare Workers-West. He has removed its elected officers, stripped the local of 65,000 members, taken control of its treasury and collective bargaining, and seems on the road to destroying one of the most politically influential labor organizations in California, one with a long respected record for progressive unionism. In so doing, he has waved aside mass protests and petitions from thousands of SEIU members; he has shrugged off written objections from over 100 pro-union educators, academics, writers, and intellectuals around the country, and from 50 more of their colleagues in California. He has ignored an appeal from political leaders in California and representatives of community, ethnic, and religious organizations that he abandon the trusteeship threat. In November, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors presented a Certificate of Honor to Sal Rosselli, UHW-W president, “and the 150,000 members of UHW-West for their continued fight for real democracy in the American Labor Movement and their commitment to building real power for healthcare workers.”
Healthcare workers gathered at Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Bellflower in Los Angeles to announce that a majority had chosen NUHW as their union.
Tens of thousands of Kaiser Permanente’s California workers have signed a petition to leave United Healthcare Workers West and join the newly formed National Union of Healthcare Workers, officials announced Thursday.
The 50,000-employee bargaining unit is one of the largest among the nation’s private-sector employers, and taking it over would be a significant coup for the newly formed NUHW. The group was created last month by former leaders of the UHW after the Oakland-based local was placed under trusteeship by its parent organization, the Service Employees International Union, marking the culmination of a long-running feud.
Even as stars have aligned in Washington to pass health care reform, a civil war has broken out in the nation’s biggest health care union, with unpredictable results.
Two leaders of what was until a month ago California’s United Healthcare Workers West — a 150,000-member local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — spoke Thursday night at Yale’s Ezra Stiles College as part of Yale’s Initiative on Labor and Culture.
San Francisco Sentinel: 50,000 Kaiser Permanente caregivers file to leave SEIU, join National Union of Healthcare Workers
“We need stability, democracy, and a union we can trust,” said Bebs Nonato, a registered nurse at Kaiser’s Los Angeles Medical Center.
“SEIU tried to move nurses at my hospital back and forth between three different local unions in five years. They pushed us around like furniture, and ignored our voices and votes. We’re building a stronger union in NUHW, with healthcare workers in control.”