In southern California the National Union of Health Care Workers won elections against the SEIU at Kaiser bargaining units. At Kaiser’s Los Angeles Medical Center, the vote among RN’s was 746 for NUHW and 36 for SEIU. Leila Valdivia – a nurse at the medical center active in the union since 1990 – says a lack of rank and file democracy in the SEIU is why she voted for NUHW.
[Leila Valdivia]: “Over the years it became evident that the direction of the SEIU was completely turning their back on democracy of any kind. In fact, it was very difficult over the years to watch our representation and voice just get dwindled away.”
The membership rolls of the nation’s largest healthcare union are getting a little smaller after several thousand hospital and clinic workers employed by Kaiser Permanente voted to leave the Service Employees International Union and join an upstart rival.
Kaiser Permanente workers in Southern California have voted by huge margins to dump Service Employees International Union and go with a rival union formed a year ago by former SEIU officials.
The vote was 1,652 to 254 in the biggest contest for members since the National Union of Healthcare Workers was formed. It brings 2,300 workers in three bargaining units at Kaiser hospitals and clinics in Los Angeles and San Diego into the new union.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) chalked up an important win Tuesday in Southern California as hundreds of professional and technical workers at the giant health care chain Kaiser Permanente voted to leave the Service Employees (SEIU) and join the upstart NUHW.
“We were confident we would win,” said Tessie Costales, a 27-year nurse at Kaiser Sunset medical complex in Los Angeles. “Today it’s official.”
A last-minute push by the Service Employees (SEIU) to impound the ballots and prevent the vote count was denied by the National Labor Relations Board.
In a stunning rebuke to SEIU, nurses and health care professionals at Kaiser Hospital voted overwhelmingly yesterday to leave SEIU and join NUHW. Nurses favored NUHW over SEIU 746-36 (95%), one health professional unit went for NUHW 189-26 (86%), and the other went for NUHW 717-192 (78%). The landslide victories likely foreshadow the complete shift of SEIU’s Kaiser workforce to NUHW when the rest of the bargaining units vote in June. Leila Valdivia, a Kaiser nurse who strongly backed NUHW, described the victory as being “like a big weight came off our shoulders. We gave SEIU a real spanking, and people were crying and hugging after the votes were announced.” NUHW’s Barbara Lewis, who coordinated the union’s Kaiser campaign, described the win as “a tribute to rank and file leadership that was heavily invested in a member-driven union. The workers organized around this vision, and sought a union that the workers would control, which was NUHW.”