Salinas Californian: Salinas Valley Hospital workers choose NUHW as their union, move to dump SEIU

December 24th, 2009

A majority of caregivers at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital have filed a petition to choose the National Union of Healthcare Workers as their union and end their membership in the SEIU, the group announced today.

They have become the latest to join an exodus of more than 100,000 SEIU members across California. The movement began last January, when SEIU officials from Washington, D.C., took over the local chapter.

“We’re bargaining our contract next August, and we need a union we can count on,” said Esther Nuñez, a cashier and chief union steward at the Salinas hospital. “We’ve seen the takeaways SEIU has agreed to at Kaiser and at other hospitals this year, and we’re not going to let that happen to us.”

Last week, nearly 700 workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in Sonoma County voted to join NUHW, rejecting SEIU by a landslide vote of 283 to 13, the group said. On Jan. 5, more than 2,300 Kaiser Permanente professionals in Southern California are expected to begin voting in their own election on whether to quit SEIU and join NUHW.

The group at Salinas Valley Memorial includes nearly 900 respiratory care practitioners, licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, clerical workers, environmental service aides and techs, cooks, dietary clerks and others. They filed their petition today with California’s Public Employment Relations Board, which is expected to schedule an election soon to make the switch official.

“A union is supposed to be the voice of workers, but SEIU took our voice away,” said Marilyn Benson, a licensed vocational nurse at Salinas Valley Memorial. “We’re voting NUHW to take our union back.”

The National Union of Healthcare Workers is an independent, member-led union, dedicated to improving the lives of healthcare workers and the people they care for.

More than 100,000 workers in hospitals, Kaiser Permanente facilities, homecare, and nursing homes have petitioned to join NUHW since January.

Source: Salinas Californian