Memorial Hospital admits NUHW won majority in union election, agrees on challenged ballots

NewsJanuary 22, 2010

“Sour grapes”: With less than 3% of vote, defeated SEIU still trying to stand in workers’ way

Santa Rosa, Calif.—One month after a hotly contested union election at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, both hospital management and the newly-elected National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) have agreed to accept a determination by the federal government that resolves the question of 13 challenged ballots and gives the new union an absolute majority.

“There’s no question that my co-workers and I are joining NUHW,” said Melissa Bosanco, a care partner at the hosptial. “We voted NUHW because we want a voice to make our hospital a better place to work and a better place for our community to get care.”

The National Labor Relations Board determined that 12 of the 17 challenged ballots should not be counted because the voters were not eligible under the rules of the election; another ballot will not be counted because of stray marks on the ballot. The four challenged ballots left unresolved are not enough to affect the final result: 283 votes for NUHW, 263 for No Union, and 13 for SEIU.

Both the union and hospital management have signed an agreement accepting to the labor board’s determination, but the defeated SEIU, which tried unsuccessfully to interfere in the election, has not. After being soundly rejected by more than 96 percent of voters, SEIU officials are still refusing to accept the outcome, a move that could cause another short delay for workers hoping to get to the bargaining table as soon as possible.

“Isn’t that the worst case of sour grapes?” asked Bosanco. “SEIU said they cared about workers at our hospital, but it looks like they were just lying to try to get our votes.”

Memorial Hospital management is still pressing forward with objections to the election, claiming that workers were confused when they voted for union representation. Those objections could be dismissed within weeks.

Elected officials and religious leaders have called on hospital management to drop its objections, including Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, State Senators Mark Leno and Pat Wiggins, Assemblymembers Jared Huffman, Noreen Evans, and Wes Chesbro, local Catholic leader Monsignor John Brenkle, and former Sister of St. Joseph of Orange JoAnn Consiglieri.

  • Letter from Supervisor Shirlee Zane: PDF
  • Letter from Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey: PDF
  • Letter from Monsignor John Brenkle and JoAnn Consiglieri: PDF

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The National Union of Healthcare Workers is an independent, member-led union, dedicated to improving the lives of healthcare workers and the people they care for. More than 100,000 workers in hospitals, Kaiser Permanente facilities, homecare, and nursing homes have petitioned to join NUHW since January 2009.