Los Angeles Times: National Union of Healthcare Workers gets its first members

NewsMarch 18, 2009

By Evelyn Larrubia

A new Oakland-based union — the product of a brutal fight between the elected leaders of healthcare workers in Northern California and their superiors in Washington — announced Tuesday that it had gained its first members.

North American Healthcare agreed to recognize the National Union of Healthcare Workers as the representative of more than 350 nursing home workers at four of the company’s facilities in Northern California, the union said.

But United Healthcare Workers West and its parent union, the Service Employees International Union, which had until now represented those workers, are not giving them up without a fight.

“This is not a done deal,” SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette said. She said the SEIU on Tuesday filed an unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing North American Healthcare of “illegally recognizing” the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

She said former United Healthcare Workers leaders purposely allowed contracts with employers to expire at North American Healthcare and many other facilities so that if the SEIU took over the local — as it did in January — they would be able to make a play for the workers through a new union.

The SEIU has filed dozens of complaints alleging former United Healthcare Workers leaders illegally let contracts expire. The National Labor Relations Board is investigating.

As a result, government-run elections at those workplaces, where the National Union of Healthcare Workers claims that a majority of employees want to leave the United Healthcare Workers and join its group, have been placed on hold indefinitely.

The nursing homes where the National Union of Healthcare Workers said it had been recognized are: Cottonwood Healthcare Center and Woodland Skilled Nursing Facility in Woodland, Linda Mar Rehabilitation in Pacifica and Valley Skilled Nursing Center in Sacramento.

Source: Los Angeles Times