NUHW members ratify a new constitution

NewsNovember 3, 2011

Commissioner Dorothy Christiansen administers ballot countOn behalf of the Executive Board of NUHW, we are proud to report that NUHW members have voted in high turnout to ratify a new Constitution by a vote margin of 94%.

The Constitution of the National Union of Healthcare Workers was drafted and recommended by the Executive Board on September 10. Dues-paying members of NUHW bargaining units then voted on the proposal in a mail ballot election beginning October 11. The ballot count was overseen last Saturday, October 29, at the board’s direction, by retired federal mediator, Commissioner Dorothy Christiansen at the offices of NUHW in Emeryville.

Our new Constitution provides the framework for the kind of highly democratic union that we are, and will continue to build, including members’ right to dissent, limits on the salary of officers and staff (no greater than the highest paid member of the union), transparency of union finances and strict provisions to ensure that our Executive Board is member-led, open and accountable to all members.

While we encourage you to download the whole document yourself (pdf), here are some key bullet points:

  • Member rights include democratic guarantees that go beyond federal law: right to elect and recall stewards; right to ratify contracts; right to elect rank-and-file representatives to bargaining committees; right to vote on whether to strike or not, right to full and open accounting of Union finances; the right to disagree with the leadership of the Union.
  • The Executive Board is NUHW’s governing body and will be made up of one rank-and-file member for every 500 members, or fraction thereof, in each bargaining unit. Members will be elected to the Executive Board by members in their own unit to assure accountability. Any NUHW member may attend any Executive Board meeting.
  • There are two union-wide officers-President and Secretary-Treasurer-who are directly elected by the members of NUHW. To assure accountability to the members, members have the right to recall officers of the Union.
  • No officer or staff member of the Union shall be paid more than the highest paid member in an NUHW bargaining unit.
  • The dues formula in the Constitution can only be changed by a vote of all NUHW rank-and-file members.

The NUHW Executive Board wants to assure all members of NUHW, and all those who seek to join us, that our new Constitution guarantees member rights and democratic decision making in direct contrast to healthcare workers’ experience in SEIU-UHW. For those interested in a comparison of the rights of members of NUHW versus SEIU-UHW, please click here for a leaflet (pdf) to share with your co-workers.

In unity, and on behalf of the NUHW Executive Board,

Eloise Reese-Burns, CNA, Cottonwood Healthcare in Woodland
David Mallon, LCSW, Kaiser Norwalk
National Union of Healthcare Workers