Workers at Prison Health Services vote NUHW in stunning upset
April 21st, 2010
Against all odds, workers prevail at facility chosen by SEIU to vote first
Oakland, Calif.—Prison Health Services workers at the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility and Santa Rita Jail became the newest members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) today in a 66-to-59 vote that was a stunning upset against the SEIU.
Workers say they worked hard to take back their union at a facility that SEIU officials believed was firmly under SEIU’s control.
“I’m so ecstatic,” said Kim Tovar, a medical records technician at Glenn Dyer. “When I saw we’d won, I just couldn’t believe it. After everything SEIU did to scare us and divide us, we showed that healthcare workers really do want a democratic union that we control. Today the division ends, and we can start uniting our co-workers to win on the issues that are most important to us at PHS.”
“This is hard-won victory for workers who want a real voice in their workplace and in their union,” said Angela Glasper, an optical cashier at Kaiser Antioch and an NUHW Vice President. “SEIU has stacked the deck against these workers, and we won’t win every single election. But if workers can pull off a victory like this at the places where SEIU says they’re strongest, then it’s obvious why SEIU is still blocking elections for workers at most other facilities. They know there is overwhelming support for NUHW.”
Last year, SEIU members at more than 360 healthcare facilities across California petitioned for elections to switch to NUHW, to restore democracy and accountability in their union after Washington, D.C. officials removed thousands of healthcare workers from elected union positions.
Instead of letting workers choose freely, SEIU’s lawyers took advantage of workers’ weak protections under federal labor law, and have manipulated the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) process to dodge most of the elections for more than a year.
After a series of landslide victories for NUHW, SEIU asked the labor board in January to proceed with a hand-picked minority of elections where SEIU was most confident they could win.
The first elections were at Prison Health Services and at four Bay Area nursing homes owned by Pratap Poddatoori. In addition to today’s victory at Prison Health Services, NUHW supporters had a strong showing at the four nursing homes, in an election so close it may have to be resolved with a runoff election.
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The National Union of Healthcare Workers is California’s fastest-growing union, representing caregivers in every job classification. More than 100,000 workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and Kaiser Permanente facilities have petitioned for elections to join NUHW and win a strong, democratic voice at work. | NUHW.org/one