Healthcare workers join NUHW in first election

NewsMay 21, 2009

Caregivers at Doctors Medical Center overwhelmingly reject SEIU in first election since almost 100,000 petitioned to join the National Union of Healthcare workers

San Pablo, Calif.—In an overwhelming victory for California healthcare workers’ movement to take back their union, nearly 300 caregivers at Doctors Medical Center won an election to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) and reject the SEIU. Workers mailed secret ballots to California’s Public Employment Relations Board, which certified today that more than 83 percent chose NUHW. The count was 158 for NUHW, 24 for SEIU, and 7 for No Union.

“We’re so excited to be in control of our own union again,” said Duka Ristic, an ultrasonographer at the hospital for eight years. “NUHW is led by the local healthcare workers and leaders we know and trust, who helped us raise standards for our patients and keep our community’s hospital open.”

After national SEIU officials staged a hostile takeover of California’s healthcare union in January, nearly 100,000 caregivers petitioned to quit the scandal-plagued SEIU and form their own independent union.

SEIU officials responded by filing hundreds of frivolous charges with state and federal labor boards to delay elections at more than 360 facilities. So-called “blocking charges” are a tactic commonly used by employers and union-busting consultants to stall elections by taking advantage of the weakness of federal labor law. SEIU officials used the delay to wage a months-long campaign to harass and intimidate union activists.

While the National Labor Relations Board has so far failed to protect workers’ right to vote in fair and timely elections, California’s Public Employment Relations Board has begun scheduling elections for public service healthcare workers. Next month, workers at Hazel Hawkins Hospital in Hollister as well as Fresno County homecare workers will have their chance to vote.

“SEIU’s attacks have only made us stronger and more committed than ever to joining a union that is on our side,” Ristic said. “Our union, NUHW, is a democratic union by and for healthcare workers. This a great day for us.”

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The National Union of Healthcare Workers is an independent, member-led union, dedicated to improving the lives of healthcare workers and the people they care for. NUHW is building a national movement of caregivers to hold healthcare corporations accountable to the public interest and win affordable, quality healthcare for all.