OAKLAND — Today, 175 healthcare workers at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister, California who formerly belonged to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) became the newest members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). The Public Employment Relations Board concluded its vote count this morning with a tally of 75 for NUHW, 61 for SEIU and two votes for “No Union.”
This is the second NUHW victory this week in the California Central Coast region. On Wednesday, 18 pharmacists at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH) who joined NUHW three months ago settled a contract with no takeaways, reduced healthcare costs, and reinstatement of a defined benefit pension plan that management had taken from them before they joined the union.
In an earlier election in 2009, workers at Hazel Hawkins voted to remain SEIU members. In the intervening three years, they witnessed SEIU’s chronic failure to represent workers adequately and SEIU leaders’ cozy relationships with hospital administrators. In this respect, their experience mirrors that of workers at Kaiser Permanente hospitals throughout the state, where more than 40,000 employees voted in 2010 to stay with SEIU in an election that was thrown out in federal court due to election misconduct by SEIU and Kaiser. At Kaiser, as at Hazel Hawkins, support for NUHW has grown exponentially since the last election in response to SEIU’s failure to represent workers and unwillingness to protect members’ benefits at the bargaining table, and in response to NUHW’s string of contract victories at places like SVMH and Keck Medical Center of USC. Kaiser workers will vote again on whether to leave SEIU and join NUHW later this year.
“We’re so glad to be out of SEIU and back in a union that fights for workers instead of making shady back room deals with management that put our benefits at risk,” said Patsy Meyers, a housekeeper at Hazel Hawkins.
NUHW members at Hazel Hawkins include Certified Nursing Aides, housekeepers and food service workers.