Times-Herald: healthcare unions await board’s ruling

NewsMarch 5, 2010

By Sarah Rohrs

The battle over which union will represent nearly 6,900 workers at 51 health care facilities in California is heating up.

A major labor board ruling may clear the way for union elections at the facilities., including Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo.

Sutter Solano medical records clerk Tami Richmond said she and many other workers are anxious to vote on whether to join a new union or stay with Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW).

“We want to have this vote as soon as possible,” Richmond said. “Let the members decide. They are ready to vote and we are ready to go forward.”

The SEIU-UHW represents 200 medical workers in Vallejo and others in Fairfield, Antioch, Concord, Dublin, El Cerrito, Hayward, Millbrae, Oakland, Richmond, Ross, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, San Rafael, Stockton, Union City, Yuba City and other California cities.

Richmond said a competing union’s efforts to organize Vallejo Sutter Solano Medical Center workers is causing chaos and distracting workers in their jobs caring for patients.

But the outside union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), issued a statement saying that SEIU-UHW is causing all the trouble.

Following the labor board’s decision, NUHW officials said SEIU will continue to block elections at select facilities, and continue to manipulate and divide workers at facilities statewide.

“It’s shameful that SEIU would rather divide workers
than let their own members vote,” said Jeanne Pilotte, a dietary aide at Seton Medical Center in Daly City for more than 30 years.

A vote to allow workers to choose which union they want to be in stems from health care employees dissatisfied with the SEIU-UHW, a NUHW spokeswoman said.

The NUHW charged that the SEIU is selectively blocking elections at certain facilities, and asked the labor board to schedule votes for only a minority of workers.

Meanwhile, the SEIU-UHW says the NUHW was formed by former SEIU-UHW leaders who are now trying to “decertify” the SEIU as the workers’ union, according to a SEIU statement.

Source: Times-Herald