SF Business Times: NLRB sets Sept. 13 as start for giant Kaiser Permanente union election

NewsJuly 31, 2010

The National Labor Relations Board has set Sept. 13 as the start date for a by-mail union representation election at Kaiser Permanente, according to the National Union of Healthcare Workers, one of the unions that will take part in the balloting.

Sadie Crabtree, an NUHW spokeswoman, said the agreement was facilitated and approved by Alan Reichard, the NLRB’s regional director for the area. She said it calls for ballots to be returned by Oct. 4, and counted in early October.

The no-love-lost election, between SEIU’s incumbent United Healthcare Workers West local and the new NUHW, will decide which of the two rivals will represent some 43,000 Kaiser workers statewide — and gain or retain access to an estimated $42 million in union dues.

All involved say it will be one of the largest and most complex union representation battles in many decades.

In fact, Emeryville-based NUHW, headed by longtime UHW president Sal Rosselli, says it will be the largest private-sector union election since the 1940s.

NUHW has 5,000 members, including 2,300 Kaiser workers who joined it in January, after voting for the breakaway union over the Service Employees International Union unit. SEIU and its Oakland-based UHW local ousted Rosselli and other former senior officials from UHW roles in January 2009, amid allegations of improprieties.

NUHW said it won an agreement for a mail-in ballot last week, in NLRB-sponsored negotiations with its rival. SEIU spokesman Steve Trossman earlier told the San Francisco Business Times that his union initially preferred on-site elections at Kaiser facilities “whenever possible,” but decided to go along with a mail-in vote if that would expedite things.

Mike Leong, the NLRB’s Oakland-based assistant regional director, told the Business Times earlier this week that the NLRB didn’t have the logistical capabilities to handle on-site elections of the magnitude needed for this statewide Kaiser battle.

Late Friday, Trossman said he hadn’t seen the final legal paperwork, but that he believed the election date had been set.

Source: San Francisco Business Times