Workers at Los Alamitos Hospital join National Union of Healthcare Workers

NewsSeptember 29, 2009

SEIU officials forced to abandon election after failing to win any support

Los Alamitos, Calif.—More than 40 workers at Los Alamitos Hospital have won their election to form a union with the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), despite an aggressive effort by another union to stop them. The workers are employees of Hospital Housekeeping Systems (HHS)—a subcontractor that fails to provide affordable quality health insurance for the workers who spend long hours keeping the hospital clean for others.

“I’m overjoyed that we finally have a voice to protect our jobs and our families,” said Matilde Garcia, an HHS worker and member of the organizing committee. “And I’m proud that we stayed united and chose a union that respects its members and is run by healthcare workers like us.”

The vote was 35 for NUHW and 7 for “No Union.” The scandal-plagued SEIU, widely condemned for its attacks on other unions, had tried to intervene. After the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rejected SEIU’s attempt to block the election by filing frivolous legal charges, SEIU tried to compete in the election—but abandoned their effort last week when they failed to win any support from workers.

Even though SEIU represents many other workers at Los Alamitos, SEIU members actually supported the housekeeping workers in choosing NUHW.

“SEIU never intended to represent the housekeeping workers,” said Letty Marquez, an SEIU-represented lab tech at the hospital. “They just want to stop everyone from joining NUHW. It’s sad that instead of helping members, SEIU is wasting our dues money standing in the way of workers who want a union voice.”

NUHW was founded in January, in the wake of SEIU’s hostile takeover of California’s healthcare union. Since then, more than 100,000 healthcare workers—mostly current members of SEIU—have petitioned for elections to join NUHW. Today’s election at Los Alamitos Hospital was the first election to be scheduled by the NLRB.

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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 2009.