Healthcare unions go head to head

With healthcare staff rolls continuing to expand, the industry is a fat target for unionization. That fact hasn't been lost on the Service Employees International Union, which has been recruiting aggressively among healthcare organizations for decades.

But after all of that work, the SEIU doesn't take kindly to those who would poach on its turf. It's now asking federal labor officials to throw out petitions--signed by many thousands of its own members--who want to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The new union was formed by former SEIU insiders who were ousted from their seats after fighting with other leaders over the future direction of the organization.

The SEIU is not an easy target. It boasts a $300 million annual budget and an army of lobbyists and lawyers, while the spinoff group has only 150 players, many of whom are volunteers. And it seems determined to use that muscle.

Ironically, SEIU lawyers are using positions frequently taken by employers to thwart unionization. In its filing with the National Labor Relations Board, the SEIU argues that the upstart union has unfairly coerced and restrained workers. It also contends that the new union is "dominated by employers" and therefore illegal.

To learn more about the dispute:
- read this Los Angeles Times piece

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