Labor Board Fails to Protect the Rights of 10,000 Fresno Homecare Workers

NewsFebruary 17, 2011

PERB refuses to overturn fraudulent 2009 election, gives SEIU a pass for election misconductNUHW pledges to appeal

FRESNO – The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) notified the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) today of its decision not to overturn the results of a 2009 election for 10,000 Fresno County homecare workers between NUHW and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), dealing a major setback to the rights of workers to join the union of their choosing. NUHW has pledged to appeal the ruling.

“This is a horrible decision,” said homecare worker Florine Furlow. “This is a decision that puts freedom of association for workers at risk. It needs to be appealed and overturned.”

In objections to the election filed with the PERB in 2009, NUHW cited numerous, specific examples of unscrupulous tactics repeatedly employed by SEIU staff members, including:

  • Threatening workers with loss of wages, benefits and employment as a direct result of voting to join NUHW
  • Threatening physical violence against NUHW staff in front of workers
  • Stealing or otherwise obtaining workers’ ballots and filling them out

NUHW has further documented numerous instances of SEIU employees targeting Spanish-speaking homecare workers and threatening them with deportation if they refused to support SEIU, and of SEIU employees vandalizing the homes of NUHW supporters.

Today, the PERB ruled that despite the seriousness of SEIU’s misconduct, the Board is refraining from taking measures to hold SEIU accountable. PERB agents cited the absence of the names of the specific SEIU organizers who perpetrated the violations in NUHW’s objection filing as the basis for the Board’s ruling.

NUHW officials disagree with the decision.

“The PERB’s decision makes no sense,” said John Borsos of NUHW. “Workers provided detailed evidence of ballot tampering and other illegal election interference. This testimony warrants an investigation, and yet the PERB is closing the case and refusing to investigate the crimes because workers can’t identify the criminals in advance. It’s as if the police refused to investigate a robbery because the robber was wearing a mask. PERB’s job is to investigate the charges, not abandon the victims.”

As a consequence of SEIU’s misconduct, combined with the $10 million war chest SEIU brought to Fresno County in 2009 (versus $250,000 expended by NUHW), SEIU won the Fresno election by just 250 votes, or about four percent of the number of votes cast.

Former SEIU staffers who worked on the Fresno election have testified that, far from a case of ‘bad apples,’ the election misconduct was planned, conceived and articulated by top SEIU officials.

Since the Fresno election, SEIU has employed identical tactics in every election it has competed in against NUHW, most notably in last year’s contest for 43,000 Kaiser Permanente employees.

Watch this video of Fresno County homecare workers describing SEIU misconduct: