LOS ANGELES, Dec. 12 SEIU announced today thatits California healthcare members have voted to support the creation of asingle local uniting the state's long-term care workers. The InternationalExecutive Board (IEB), SEIU's highest democratically elected decision-makingbody, will weigh the results of the non-binding advisory vote next month as itconsiders reforms designed to strengthen the representation of Californialong-term care workers.
"This democratic advisory vote will be carefully considered by theInternational Executive Board," said SEIU President Andy Stern. "Our memberssent a clear message today. A single statewide local can instantly transformlong-term care workers into one of the leading political and economic forcesin the Golden State. With a massive budget crisis and Governor Schwarzeneggercalling for devastating cuts in worker pay and patient care, our members aresaying now is the time to pool our strength."
In more than three weeks of mail-in balloting, members affected by theproposed reorganization were given the opportunity to vote their preference onwhether to create a new single statewide long-term care local or a newstatewide local representing a broader classification of healthcare workers.The result was 86.2% to 13.8% in favor of a long-term care local.
The California reorganization is part of a systematic reform of SEIU thathas been taking place since 1996. In 2000, delegates to the SEIUInternational Convention adopted the New Strength in Unity Plan, and the Unionlaunched an aggressive restructuring program, breaking up old politicalfiefdoms and uniting workers by industry and geography into larger, moremodern locals. Organizational reforms have increased political strength andbargaining power for SEIU members in Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut,Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Illinois,Washington, and California. Among the new locals created by thereorganizations was United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW), whose leadersactively supported the dissolution of Locals 399 and 250 in 2005 to createUHW.
"Our members understand that in an age concentrating wealth andglobalizing corporate ownership, we have to organize ourselves on a scale tocompete and win. That means declaring the era of old local bossism is over,"Stern said.
The current process of determining long-term care jurisdiction inCalifornia began in 2006 when healthcare workers were reorganized in a mannerleaving long-term care workers divided among three locals, United HealthcareWorkers-West (UHW), Local 521, and United Long-Term Care Workers Local 6434.At that time, the IEB recommended that SEIU examine the question of whetherfragmentation was working to the detriment of homecare workers. Thatreevaluation was the focus of hearings held in May and July 2008 and overseenby outside hearing officer Leonard Page.
After receiving testimony from each of the locals and from the Long-TermCare Division of SEIU Healthcare, Page recommended the creation of a new long-term care local union by combining long-term care members from Local 521,Local 6434 and UHW. The SEIU Executive Committee recommended that the IEBconduct an advisory membership vote to measure member support for the optionsuggested by the hearing officer and for an additional option, advanced by UHWduring the hearings, of a new statewide healthcare local union.
In the first week of January 2009, the IEB will proceed to finalize itsdecision in the California jurisdiction matter. Should the IEB determine tocharter a new local union, a personal representative will be assigned for aterm of 30 days following the finalization of the IEB's decision, with theresponsibility to draw up a plan and schedule for the implementation of thejurisdiction decision. No action would be taken to implement anyjurisdictional change until the schedule and plan are approved by theInternational President in February 2009.
The recommendations being considered by the IEB do not involve workers inpublic healthcare facilities or other health systems workers outside of UHW.
With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIUis the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers inhealthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winningbetter wages, healthcare, and more secure jobs for our communities, whileuniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensurethat workers, not just corporations and CEOs, benefit from today's globaleconomy.