“Let Every Vote Count,” Caregivers Say
OAKLAND, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The majority of 43,000 Kaiser Permanente caregivers who pledged to vote for Service Employees International Union–United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU-UHW) in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election are turning in their final mail ballots to meet today’s deadline and anticipating a victory as votes are counted beginning Wednesday, October 6.
SEIU-UHW members are committed to ensuring that every possible vote cast by an eligible Kaiser employee will be counted. As the vote count begins October 6, the union will have the full allotment of 22 poll watchers attending to make sure all the ballots are counted properly. The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), the union seeking to represent Kaiser workers, is already signaling that it could challenge a large number of voters and to try to have their ballots thrown out.
“We’re determined to let every vote count,” said Ana D. Guardado, an ophthalmology technician at Kaiser South San Francisco. “The stakes in this election are huge — caregivers would have to completely re-bargain the raises and healthcare benefits we recently won if NUHW is voted in. We can’t afford to let NUHW’s tactics undermine a democratic vote.”
SEIU-UHW has represented caregivers at Kaiser Permanente in California for more than 65 years. NUHW filed the petition with the NLRB that triggered the mail ballot election. Ballots were mailed to more than 43,000 union members on September 13 and are due back to the NLRB office in Oakland on October 4. Ballots will be counted beginning October 6. Due to the volume of ballots, results of the election are not expected until sometime Friday, October 8.
A majority of SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Permanente caregivers pledged to vote to keep their union and protect the standard-setting contract they won earlier this year. The new two-year national agreement guarantees 9% wage increases over three years, family healthcare with no cost increases and job security protections not found anywhere else in the industry. Negotiated by a 121-member, elected SEIU-UHW bargaining committee supported by thousands of union members, the agreement went into effect October 1, 2010. The agreement will have to be renegotiated if caregivers choose NUHW representation in the election.
“We’re ready to win this election and get rid of the division caused by NUHW so that we can focus on what we do best: providing quality care for Kaiser Permanente patients,” said Lester B. Katz, a radiologic technologist at Kaiser Baldwin Park. “As SEIU-UHW members, we’ve set the standard for quality care and jobs and we want to keep it that way.”
More than 73,000 SEIU-UHW members have rejected representation by NUHW since it was formed 20 months ago. NUHW is led by former SEIU leaders who were removed from office in January 2009 for misusing members’ dues money. NUHW leaders were found liable by a federal jury and ordered to repay SEIU-UHW $1.57 million in damages. NUHW recently filed a motion to delay payment pending appeal, claiming that for it to pay the judgment or post a bond guaranteeing payment would lead to "dire financial results," but their motion was denied.
SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU-UHW) is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States with more than 150,000 members. We unite every type of healthcare worker with a mission to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. SEIU-UHW is part of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation's fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.
Steve Trossman, 213-300-1882
KEYWORDS: United States North America California
INDUSTRY KEYWORDS: Health Hospitals Public Policy/Government Elections/Campaigns Labor Other Health Nursing