Fresno Business Journal: Union vote count underway

NewsJune 19, 2009

By Marc Lutz

Votes are being counted in one of the most closely watched union elections in local history.

Over 10,000 health care workers in Fresno County recently voted on whether to remain members of the Service Employees International Union and United Healthcare Workers organization or to switch to the fledgling National Union of Healthcare Workers. A final count could come as early as today, but that is not likely.

According to Erika Monterroza, a public information officer for the State Mediation and Conciliation Service, counting of the ballots will probably take most of the day, extending into the evening. If a final count is not completed until after 6 p.m., the results will not be released until Monday morning.

Monterroza said that 6,000 ballots were received. Less than 50 percent of workers had been expected to vote.

During the voting process, NUHW organizers have accused SEIU workers of vandalism and violence. Charges were also filed by NUHW against SEIU and Bank of America with the National Labor Relations board over a line of credit secured by the SEIU from the bank.

While both sides remain optimistic over the outcome of the election, it’s anyone’s guess at this point as to whom the selected union will be.

In May, a similar vote held by workers at Doctor’s Medical Center in San Pablo was overwhelmingly won by NUHW, with the majority of workers there wanting to join the union.

However, in a recent interview, SEIU Spokesperson Michelle Ringuette said the union expects to be the victor.

Both unions have been working to reverse state and county budget cuts to health care workers wages and hours.

Source: Fresno Business Journal