Nearly 900 caregivers join NUHW at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital

NewsMay 18, 2010

Workers vote overwhelmingly for a stronger voice to improve patient care

Salinas, Calif.—Caregivers at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital have voted by a landslide to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) and end their membership in the SEIU.

Workers say they chose NUHW to have a stronger voice in bargaining, and to unite with the 50,000 Kaiser Permanente workers who are also organizing to join NUHW and will call for their own election this June.

“SEIU was more interested in our dues than our needs and concerns,” said Yolanda Zazueta, a certified nursing assistant at the hospital for more than 22 years. “NUHW is run by healthcare workers and experienced union negotiators with a strong track record of improving patient care and winning the best hospital wages and benefits in California.”

408 votes for NUHW, 242 votes for SEIU, and 13 votes for No Union were counted this morning after three weeks of voting by mail. The group includes respiratory care practitioners, licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, clerical workers and others.

Salinas Valley workers are part of an exodus of thousands of SEIU members who have made NUHW the fastest-growing union in California. The movement began last January, when SEIU officials from Washington, D.C. took over California’s healthcare union, forced healthcare workers from elected positions, and put themselves in charge. The next day, dozens of healthcare workers voted to establish NUHW as a new, independent union.

Workers at more than 360 facilities have petitioned to join NUHW in the last 15 months, and most are still waiting for their elections. Nearly 4,500 caregivers at Kaiser facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes have already joined NUHW, and elections are expected for almost 60,000 more this year.

The next election will be in Los Angeles, where 700 more SEIU members at USC University Hospital are set to join NUHW on May 26 and 27.

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The National Union of Healthcare Workers is California’s fastest-growing union, representing caregivers in every job classification. More than 100,000 workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and Kaiser Permanente facilities have petitioned for elections to join NUHW and win a strong, democratic voice at work.