Two Victories for Workers at Kaiser

KaiserSeptember 14, 2013

It’s been a busy and productive week for the members of NUHW!  You may have read some of the numerous stories in the press about our important action at the AFL-CIO’s national convention in Los Angeles this past week.


AFL-CIO Boots Kaiser from Labor Convention

Despite its track record as an anti-worker employer, Kaiser was on the official convention agenda twice, which would have given Kaiser the opportunity to promote its invasive “wellness program” and publicize itself as a “union-friendly” company.  Kaiser was even supposed to get a booth at the convention and be a co-sponsor of the opening reception for the convention’s 1,600 delegates.

As soon as we learned about this, our chapter presidents wrote a letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka  to protest Kaiser’s role in the convention.  We called his attention to the $4 million fine that the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) recently levied against Kaiser for patient-care violations.  And we described Kaiser’s attempts to eliminate our defined-benefit pension plan and to cut our health benefits, which has forced NUHW, the California Nurses Association, UNITE HERE and other unions to wage multiple strikes against Kaiser.

As the convention began, our members were prepared to reach out directly to the delegates and press to educate them about Kaiser’s track record.

However, just hours before the convention opened, President Trumka confirmed that Kaiser had been knocked off the agenda and had been asked to remove its exhibition booth!

We’re grateful for the decision of the AFL-CIO’s leaders to stand with us while we stand up to Kaiser’s attempts to put their outrageous profits ahead of both their patients and workers.

This decision allowed our representatives to spend their time talking to convention delegates from more than fifty international unions across the country about our fight with Kaiser.  We clearly have the support of union members and leaders who are appreciative of our willingness to take on this fight not just for workers, but for Kaiser patients.

But that’s not all that happened this week!

 Optical Workers Take a Stand—And Win!

NUHW’s Optical Chapter at Kaiser voted unanimously to hold a one-day strike on September 12 to protest Kaiser’s bad-faith bargaining and unfair labor practices. Our decision came after our chapter overwhelmingly rejected Kaiser’s concessionary and illegal “Last, Best and Final Offer.”

Our September 12th strike was set to coincide with Kaiser’s regional “trunk show,” which is a major sales event where Kaiser markets the eyeware that our chapter produces.

Yesterday we received confirmation that the trunk show had been cancelled in response to our planned action! 

The Optical Chapter’s stewards unanimously decided to cancel the strike because it’s clear that Kaiser got our message — we are strong and united and will not allow Kaiser to erase the decades of achievements that our members have fought so hard to achieve.

Here are some news stories which describe NUHW’s recent action at the AFL-CIO convention:

The Hill: AFL-CIO convention avoids healthcare union’s protests
BeyondChron: As The Curtain Rises in LA, The AFL-CIO Convention
Bloomberg Daily Labor Report


Gloria Villasenor, Optician, Kaiser Union City
National Union of Healthcare Workers – California Nurses Association