Kaiser charged with criminal breach of federal labor law

NewsAugust 23, 2010

Management caught paying for staff to campaign for SEIU in government-supervised union election for 44,000 employees

Oakland, Calif.—Nine healthcare workers have filed a federal lawsuit against their employer, Kaiser Permanente, for allegedly providing criminal financial support to SEIU. SEIU is the union that Kaiser employees seek to replace in an upcoming election supervised by the federal government.

Under federal law, employers like Kaiser are prohibited from providing financial support to the unions that represent their employees, in order to ensure that unions act in the interest of their members and not on behalf of the employer. Violating this law is a criminal offense.

Kaiser employees’ lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Kaiser violated the Labor Management Relations Act by paying for dozens of Kaiser employees to conduct full-time election campaigning on behalf of SEIU. The federal statute declares it unlawful for any employer “to pay, lend, or deliver, any money or other thing of value … to any labor organization, or any officer or employee thereof, which represents, seeks to represent, or would admit to membership, any of the employees of such employer.” 

[Full text of lawsuit: http://bit.ly/kp-charge]

Next month, nearly 44,000 Kaiser employees will have the chance to cast ballots in an election to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers and end their membership in SEIU. The election was triggered when thousands of Kaiser employees submitted petitions to the National Labor Relation Board in June to request a government-administered election so they can replace their current union, SEIU, with the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

The election will be the largest private-sector union election since the 1940s.

According to the lawsuit, filed by nine Kaiser employees and NUHW, Kaiser is paying for dozens of employees who are supervised and directed by SEIU staffers to carry out full-time work in support of SEIU in dozens of Kaiser hospitals and clinics across California. The plaintiffs ask the court to impose an injunction against Kaiser to stop its illegal financial support to SEIU.

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The National Union of Healthcare Workers is California’s fastest-growing union, representing caregivers in every job classification. NUHW is dedicated to member democracy, dignity and justice for healthcare workers, and quality, affordable healthcare for all. | NUHW.org