Press Democrat: New union files to represent Memorial Hospital workers

NewsApril 14, 2009


Hundreds of Health care workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board calling for a union vote, according to labor organizers.

Organizers say the petition was submitted Monday by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, or NUHW, a new labor group headed by former leaders of Oakland-based United Healthcare Workers West.

The move follows several years of organizing health care workers at Memorial Hospital. Nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, radiology technologists and others are among those who could be represented by the new labor group, NUHW officials said.

“I’ve gotten so many phone calls from workers now,” said Mito Gonzales, a phlebotomist and NUHW supporter who has been part of the organizing effort for the past five years.

“A lot of them were afraid to sign anything because they thought their names would be made public and that they would get fired,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales was among a number of Memorial Hospital employees who had participated in the organizing effort under the Oakland-based local, an affiliate of the powerful Service Employees International Union.

But earlier this year, SEIU took control of the Oakland local and removed it’s leaders, after which key Memorial Hospital employees like Gonzales threw their support behind the newly formed NUHW.

Memorial Hospital officials said they received notice about the petition Monday night.

“We just received a faxed letter last night from the NUHW stating that they filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board,” said Katy Hillenmeyer, a hospital spokeswoman. “We’re currently seeking to verify this with the NLRB.”

NLRB officials could not be reached for comment this morning.

NUHW officials would not specify the exact number of employee signatures that were submitted to the NLRB, only that it was a majority of the pool of 650 workers who could be represented by the union.

Source: Santa Rosa Press Democrat