Sacramento Business Journal: 350 nursing home workers choose NUHW over SEIU

NewsMarch 18, 2009

By Kathy Robertson

More than 350 workers at three Sacramento-area nursing homes and one in Pacifica have chosen the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) to represent them, union officials announced Tuesday.

The upstart health care union — formed in January after its leaders were fired by Service Employees International Union — replaces SEIU in what appears to be its first successful organizing drive.

Two of the three local nursing homes are located in Woodland: Cottonwood Healthcare Center and Woodland Skilled Nursing Facility. Also organized by NUHW is Valley Skilled Nursing Center in Sacramento. All four of the nursing homes are owned by North American Healthcare Inc., which has agreed to recognize the new union and begin contract negotiations, NUHW said.

Efforts to reach the company were unsuccessful.

The workers’ decision was certified by Shirley Campbell, a retired veteran of the State Mediation and Conciliation Service selected by the union and employer to verify that NUHW has support from a majority of workers who demonstrated support by signing a petition.

Majority sign-up is a process approved by the National Labor Relations Board that allows workers to choose their union directly — without a secret ballot election — if the employer agrees to this process.

Controversial legislation dubbed the Employee Free Choice Act would give all workers the option of forming unions this way.

NUHW was formed following a year-long battle between leaders at SEIU and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West that culminated when SEIU took control of the aggressive union local in January.

The new union has wooed SEIU members ever since. This appears to be the first time workers have successfully organized under NUHW.

“This is the first recognition anywhere,” said NUHW spokeswoman Sadie Crabtree. “We now have 350 members.”

SEIU countered Tuesday that it will file an unfair labor practice charge against the employer for illegally recognizing the new union.

“Frankly, our concern is for these workers, who have been without a contract since these very same individuals used them as pawns in their efforts to weaken the union,” SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette said in an e-mail.

Source: Sacramento Business Journal