In The News: Kaiser Permanente violated labor laws by withholding raises, benefits

December 16th, 2010

By Kathy Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal

An administrative law judge has ruled that Kaiser Permanente violated federal labor law by withholding scheduled raises and other benefits from Southern California workers who voted to leave Service Employees International Union to join a rival this year — and ordered the health care giant to pay workers what they are owed.

The order issued Monday stems from a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of 2,300 workers in Southern California who left SEIU for the National Union of Healthcare Workers in January, but the ruling could have ramifications on a larger bargaining unit of 43,000 workers statewide, including 4,000 in the Sacramento region.

This larger group voted in October to stay with SEIU, but the central argument of the campaign was that those who bolted in Southern California for the new union lost wages and benefits.

“(The ruling) proves what we’ve been saying all along — that Kaiser violated the law when it failed to pay workers their wages and benefits and colluded with SEIU to make it harder to win the election,” said John Borsos, a leader at NUHW.

The new union, formed in January 2009 after SEIU assumed trusteeship of local United Healthcare Workers West, filed a complaint following the election that remains under investigation by the NLRB. The ruling gives teeth to its argument of injustice and attempt to have the results tossed.

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