Healthcare workers picket Labor Board after 157 days without a vote

NewsJuly 9, 2009

NLRB has kept workers trapped in SEIU for more than five months by failing to schedule union elections

Oakland, Calif.—More than a hundred healthcare workers picketed the Oakland office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today, protesting the Board’s failure to schedule union elections for tens of thousands of workers who want to leave the scandal-plagued SEIU.

Nearly 100,000 workers petitioned state and federal labor boards to quit SEIU and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) soon after SEIU’s hostile takeover of California’s healthcare union in January. Federal law directs the NLRB to schedule elections within 45 days. But while California’s Public Employment Relations Board began holding elections months ago, the NLRB has failed to schedule a single one.

The NLRB’s neglect has allowed SEIU officials to wage a months-long campaign of intimidation against workers who support NUHW, while extracting millions more dollars in dues from workers who have plainly rejected them.

“If presidential elections were run like this, Bush would still be in office,” said Beverly Griffith, a former environmental services worker at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. After months of harassment by SEIU, Griffith was fired for her support of NUHW.

“This is about democracy. It’s our right to choose for ourselves what union we want to be part of. SEIU is taking advantage of the NLRB to deny us our right to vote.”

To delay workers’ elections, SEIU has filed a number of frivolous complaints with the NLRB. Anti-union employers often file such “blocking” charges to postpone elections when they fear they will lose. SEIU, which has failed to provide any convincing evidence to support its allegations, has even filed charges against itself in an effort to further stall workers’ elections. The NLRB has held up elections for months, but has failed to fully investigate or resolve any of the charges.

NUHW was founded in January, after SEIU officials seized control of California’s healthcare union in an effort to silence whistle-blowers and union reformers. SEIU replaced the healthcare workers elected to lead the local union with staff from the Washington, D.C. office. Workers formed NUHW as an independent, democratic union with healthcare workers in control.

# # #

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. Nearly 100,000 workers in hospitals, Kaiser Permanente facilities, homecare, and nursing homes have petitioned to join NUHW since January, with 40,000 more expected to petition in the next few months.