Our Union’s Progress in 2011

December 30th, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In 2011, NUHW members made history fighting for workers’ and patients’ rights—including leading one of the nation’s largest strikes at Kaiser Permanente, winning major elections, expanding NUHW’s membership and settling contracts that secure the future of our union. 

The following are just some of the ways in which NUHW grew last year: 

  • Healthcare workers joined NUHW in major election victories at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, North American Nursing Homes near Sacramento and at Kindred Hospital of San Leandro. Additionally, workers at Children’s Hospital of Oakland are awaiting a decision by the National Labor Relations Board to determine the outcome of an election in which they chose to organize with NUHW. 
  • Healthcare workers in Michigan voted to leave SEIU and join NUHW at Luther Manor Nursing Home in Saginaw and will soon vote to join NUHW at the Hackley Campus of Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon. These Michigan workers are the first healthcare workers outside of California to organize with NUHW.
  • Members of NUHW settled contracts at San Francisco Care Center, Los Alamitos Hospital in Orange County, Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo and Lakewood Regional Medical Center in Los Angeles. Most recently, more than 550 members of NUHW at Providence Tarzana Medical Center ratified a 3-year contract that is significantly better than SEIU’s contract for workers in the same facility.

In 2011 NUHW members also led the nation in the principled struggle to win contracts and advocate for their patients:

  • Nearly 700 NUHW workers at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital blew the whistle on the public hospital’s misuse of healthcare dollars to enrich executives with multiple pension plans and funnel money to scandal-plagued Wall Street insiders. NUHW members’ advocacy also led to California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee ordering an audit of SVMH’s practices. Workers at Salinas Valley waged a powerful one-day strike at the hospital in June.
  • Hundreds of NUHW members at USC University Hospital (now Keck Medical Center of USC) staged a successful one-day strike in October, and are mobilizing to win a great contract that protects themselves and their patients.
  • NUHW members at San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center continue to work with community leaders to make sure that when Sutter Health builds its massive Cathedral Hill complex, it does so in a way that ensures access to care by the city’s low-income residents and that protects the jobs of workers at the hospital’s other campuses.
  • Nearly 4,000 NUHW members at Kaiser Permanente, in partnership with 17,000 Kaiser RNs who are members of the California Nurses Association, staged the largest and first ever state-wide strike in Kaiser history in September, bringing national media attention to healthcare workers’ struggle on behalf of their patients and workers’ efforts to secure a fair contract at the massively profitable healthcare provider. This was the third strike NUHW members carried out at Kaiser in 2011 and showed NUHW members’ leadership in the national fightback against Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest HMO, which, despite billions in profits, is proposing to eliminate workers’ defined benefit pensions and reduce their health coverage.
  • NUHW workers at Kaiser also engaged in strong advocacy for mental health patients. Workers published Care Delayed, Care Denied, a report on inadequate mental health services at Kaiser Permanente, and urged Governor Brown to initiate an investigation.
  • This past summer, members of NUHW also blew the whistle on Kaiser’s excessive rate hikes on more than a quarter million California consumers, which helped prompt a partial roll-back of Kaiser’s rates that saved consumers an estimated $30 million. NUHW members are now asking the Department of Managed Health Care to scrutinize Kaiser’s 2012 rate hike. 
  • asking the Department of Managed Health Care to scrutinize Kaiser’s 2012 rate hike. 

Finally, workers united in NUHW made significant legal progress and in doing so established powerful precedents that will protect all workers’ rights:

  • Kaiser members of NUHW in Southern California successfully forced Kaiser to pay back raises it illegally withheld from 2,500 Southern California workers who voted to join NUHW in 2010. This victory will help protect the rights of all workers to freely choose their union.
  • In July, Kaiser workers also won significant legal victories overturning the 2010 Kaiser Service & Tech and MSW elections in which SEIU illegally threatened 43,000 California healthcare workers with loss of wages and benefits if they joined NUHW. The decisions, which overturned the largest private-sector union election in over 75 years, set a powerful precedent protecting workers from illegal conduct such as that engaged by SEIU officials in California. The decision also paves the way for a future re-run of the 2010 election, pending further investigations by the National Labor Relations Board.

On behalf of the 9,000 members of NUHW and the many thousands more who await the chance to organize a powerful union in their workplace, we want to wish you and your family a healthy and peaceful new year.

Sincerely,

Sal Rosselli, President, NUHW

Sal Rosselli, President

National Union of Healthcare Workers