My Word: Oakland labor board should insure fair Kaiser rerun election

NewsAugust 29, 2011

San Jose Mercury News:

By Paul Rockwell

It is a rare event when the National Labor Relations Board overturns a representational election in the labor movement. The burden of proof for any challenge is high. Minor technicalities, isolated disruptions, dirty tactics that do not materially affect the outcome hardly require an election to be set aside.

However, when fraudulent behavior is pervasive, when voting takes place in a climate of fear and coercion, the national board has an obligation not only to set aside the results but to provide a healing and cleansing period, sufficient time for employees to prepare for the next election. Without time — time for employees to understand why the first election was overturned — the ill effects of the fraudulent election spill over into the runoff.

On July 14 Administrative Law Judge Lana Parke found Service Employees International Union (SEIU) guilty of unlawful conduct, in particular, threats and intimidation of voters. She set aside the historic October 2010 Kaiser Services and Tech employees’ election, the largest private-sector union election in 70 years.

Two unlawful and destructive practices combined to wreck the Kaiser election. In retaliation to National Union of Heathcare Workers victories in Southern California, Kaiser cut benefits of the health care union employees and withheld those benefits throughout the election cycle. SEIU used the unlawful take-aways to threaten their own members.

Read the full article at San Jose Mercury News.