Union accuses El Camino Hospital of intimidating election officials

El Camino Hospital is facing accusations that it intimidated state officials into delaying vote counts from an election last week to decertify the labor union, the Palo Alto Daily News reported.

The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, which represents more than 1,000 service, maintenance and technical workers at the California hospital, on Friday filed a complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board, alleging that hospital administrators "threatened and bullied" state officials from the State Mediation & Conciliation Service to delay a vote.

The election is in response to an earlier move that requires all union members to pay dues when the union turned into a closed shop. Thirty-percent of represented workers last year filed a petition to decertify the union, according to the article.

The union claimed El Camino violated the Employee Relations Ordinance Agreement and therefore broke the law by not counting ballots.

"It's no big surprise that management would stoop to preventing us from counting our election ballots," said Kary Lynch, a Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West steward on the union website. "We know keeping our union, SEIU-UHW, is the best way to protect working families and patient care in our community."

The hospital said it was concerned with the integrity of the election, according to El Camino spokeswoman Judy Twitchell. State officials who ran the election were supposed to check photo IDs of voters, but that didn't happen at the Los Gatos location where officials only asked for verbal confirmation, the Silicon Valley Mercury News reported.

"There was no evidence there was fraud or malfeasance," Lynch said in the article, noting that voters turned out in record numbers.

Hospital and union officials met earlier this week to discuss possible next steps, but nothing was decided.

For  more information:
- read the Silicon Valley Mercury News article
- read the Palo Alto Daily News article
- here's the union statement

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