Healthcare workers expose SEIU retaliation

NewsFebruary 19, 2009

Outside SEIU UHW-W’s Oakland office on Wednesday, caregivers protested SEIU’s retaliation against members and called for an end to SEIU’s delay tactics to prevent us from joining NUHW, the union we trust.

Hospital and nursing home workers protested today outside the office of their own local union, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU UHW-W), which was recently seized in a hostile takeover by national officials of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Since the takeover, tens of thousands of members have petitioned to form an independent union—the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW)—and SEIU UHW-W’s new trustees are working with employers to intimidate workers and stop them from having a free choice.

SEIU UHW-W has threatened workers that they can be fired from their jobs or removed as shop stewards for union activity to support NUHW. Maria Garcia, a union steward and certified nursing assistant at Bay Point Healthcare Center in Hayward, was fired for circulating a petition to join NUHW.

“I’ve circulated union petitions for years with no problem,” Garcia said.

“But this time my boss said he was going to call SEIU Trustee Eliseo Medina and if he didn’t like the petition, I would be removed. After he called SEIU, he fired me, and now the union won’t respond when I call them for help. Union leaders should be on our side, not team up with administrators against us.”

NUHW was founded after SEIU seized control of California’s healthcare union in order to divide 65,000 homecare and nursing home workers from hospital workers against their will. Healthcare workers are now organizing to stay united in NUHW. In just three weeks, more than 25,000 workers at 110 facilities have petitioned to hold elections to join NUHW and thousands more will petition soon.

Healthcare workers are also stopping union dues payments to SEIU UHW-W, and signing up for monthly contributions to NUHW instead.

“SEIU officials have wasted millions of members’ dollars to enrich themselves and retaliate against whistleblowers, and we don’t want to give them another cent,” said Angela Glasper, an optical services clerk at Kaiser Antioch.

“We want to use our money to fight for better healthcare for our patients and better jobs in our communities. NUHW is our union, by healthcare workers and for healthcare workers.”