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NLRB Sets Date for Biggest Union Election in 70 Years

Saturday, July 31, 2010 General News J E 4
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44,000 Kaiser workers win the right to join NUHW and leave SEIU beginning Sept. 13

SAN FRANCISCO, July 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled a government-protected mail ballot election beginning Sept. 13 for nearly 44,000 Kaiser Permanente workers to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers and kick out the incumbent union SEIU.

"We're voting NUHW to protect our raises and benefits, and get our union back under the control of the members," said Yolanda Chavez, a senior licensed vocational nurse at Kaiser Oakland for 20 years. "We need a stronger voice at work, and a union that will tell us what's really going on."

The vote will be the largest private-sector union election since the 1940s.

NUHW is California's fastest-growing union, made up of thousands of workers who have rejected unaccountable SEIU leaders who exclude members from important decisions about their jobs and benefits. Instead, NUHW supporters are choosing a union where decisions are made by Kaiser workers themselves.

More than 2,300 Kaiser workers joined NUHW this January in landslide elections. One of their first accomplishments was winning 171 new positions at Kaiser's flagship Los Angeles hospital, a victory for patient care that also creates more quality jobs with good pay and benefits.

The federal government has stepped in to protect Kaiser workers' scheduled raises and benefits when they join NUHW. Employers must maintain raises and benefits when workers change unions, yet Kaiser management tried to flout the law in April. The NLRB has announced they will hold a hearing to enforce the law.

Today's election date announcement caps several meetings between the unions and the NLRB to determine details of the election. Last week, NUHW won an important agreement for a vote-by-mail election to protect workers' right to vote in private. SEIU had insisted that employees vote in the workplace, where Kaiser managers and SEIU staff have exclusive access and have worked to prevent voters from hearing both sides.

SEIU continues to plead its case to the NLRB on separate petitions for nearly 2,000 Kaiser workers, to whom SEIU hopes to deny the right to vote entirely. Attorneys representing Kaiser workers believe SEIU's arguments are weak, and merely a tactic to delay elections SEIU believes they will lose.

SOURCE National Union of Healthcare Workers

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