NUHW Representative Files Suit Against SEIU Workplace Bullies for Assault and Battery

Press ReleasesOctober 15, 2012

Vallejo, California — On the same day that SEIU President Mary Kay Henry is appearing at a “Freedom From Workplace Bullies Week” event in Washington DC, a lawsuit is being filed in California against three SEIU shop stewards for bullying a representative of another union at the workplace.

A representative for the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) at Kaiser Vallejo Medical Center filed suit today against three union stewards with the Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) for assault and battery. 

On July 20, NUHW representative Gloria Watkins was surrounded by over two dozen SEIU-UHW stewards in the hallway of Kaiser Permanente’s Vallejo Medical Center, and was then verbally and physically attacked by the angry mob. According to the lawsuit, the SEIU stewards, while on Kaiser’s paid time, encircled Ms. Watkins, clapping and chanting in a hostile manner, deliberately causing her to fear for her safety. After Ms. Watkins sat down on a bench, one of the stewards sat beside her and repeatedly struck her in the torso with her elbow for about five minutes straight, while continuing the volley of verbal harassment. Kaiser security officers and managers witnessed the incident and did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit alleges.

This is the second legal challenge SEIU partisans have faced this year for bullying political dissidents. In August, a California government agency released an official complaint against SEIU-UHW for engaging in “menacing and abusive behavior” toward homecare workers in Fresno who supported NUHW. (To hear homecare workers describe these incidents themselves, watch this video.)

Kaiser workers see the same pattern of behavior by SEIU agents and stewards every day.

Ever since SEIU-UHW negotiated a union contract with Kaiser Permanente full of cuts to benefits and job security protections for 45,000 caregivers, SEIU members have been organizing to leave their union and join NUHW, which represents several thousand Kaiser workers statewide. SEIU-UHW has responded by launching a relentless communications campaign designed to vilify NUHW, its leaders and its supporters, and by training SEIU loyalists to isolate, harass and intimidate Kaiser workers who publicly support NUHW.

Kaiser management has a special relationship with SEIU-UHW in which the employer promotes the union publicly as a “partner” of the corporation while SEIU officers assist Kaiser by using their political relationships to market the HMO’s services and by allowing cuts to workers’ benefits to help Kaiser’s profitability. Many employees consider the “partnership” comparable to the relationships between employers and company-dominated unions in authoritarian countries like China.

“There is no bigger workplace bully than SEIU,” said Sal Rosselli, President of NUHW. “SEIU has made workplace bullying to silence dissenting voices into a high art form. Harassment, intimidation and even physical assault are among SEIU’s go-to tactics to repress the political speech of those who challenge their philosophy of colluding with employers and selling workers short to expand their resources and power. If SEIU is serious about stopping workplace bullying, they can begin by looking in the mirror.”

Under California’s Bane Act, it is illegal to intimidate or threaten violence against an individual in order to impede him or her from exercising his or her constitutional right to freely associate. Under the state’s Ralph Act, individuals have the right to be free of violence or the threat of violence based upon their position in a labor dispute.