KQED: Healthcare Unions in California Join Forces

NUHW In the NewsJanuary 5, 2013

by Mina Kim | January 4, 2013 — 1:46 PM, KQED

Officials with the California Nurses Association and National Union of Healthcare Workers announced their affiliation Thursday, to seek better workplace conditions for healthcare employees.  

CNA co-president Deborah Burger said nurses’ abilities to negotiate contracts has been undercut by the Service Employees International Union,and its chummy relationship with employers like Kaiser Permanente.

“SEIU California is sort of the concession factory,” Burger said. “And we know that once you give up a benefit it doesn’t come back.”

SEIU-United Healthcare Workers spokesman Steve Trossman denied the charge.

“What they’re saying about our contracts is just a total red herring,” Trossman said. “The labor movement cannot waste one nickel on silly ventures like this. We need to use our money to help rebuild conditions for working people in this country.”

Burger said the affiliation with NUHW will allow both groups to integrate their resources around common goals, but is not a formal merger. The alliance is setting its sights on luring thousands of Kaiser Permanente workers from SEIU.

“It’s to help the 43,000 Kaiser workers that are currently with the SEIU focus on their employer Kaiser Permanente,” NUHW president Sal Rosselli said. “[Kaiser], despite unprecedented profits, are demanding and accomplishing just enormous takeaways with the SEIU.”

Rosselli was ousted by SEIU in 2009, after accusing the union of making too many concessions to hospital employers. 

A union vote of Kaiser Permanente workers could come this spring.