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San Francisco Home Care Workers Describe Lies, Coercion, and Fraud in Union Signature Drive

Thursday, September 17, 2009 General News J E 4
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With More than 1,000 Reported Incidents, Caregivers Call for Comprehensive Process to Verify Signatures

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Home care workers called for a hand-examination of each signed card submitted by an organization seeking to decertify the workers' union, saying they had been subjected to lies, coercion, and fraud.

The home caregivers, members of the Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers - West (SEIU-UHW), have described more than a thousand incidents in which improper tactics were used to coerce workers, their family members, and the people they care for to sign cards by representatives who came to their homes. To watch some of these workers as they relate their stories, please click here. The decertification cards were collected by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), an organization formed by officials who were ousted from SEIU-UHW in January for, among other things, improperly moving $3 million in members' dues money to a bogus non-profit for their own use.

"We support our union - SEIU-UHW doubled our wages and won our healthcare. Apparently, the only way NUHW believes it can get the number of signed cards they need is by frightening and tricking us into signing," said Dedria Smith, a San Francisco home care worker for the past 8 years. "First they tried to take our money. Now they are trying to take our union."

Workers have shared over a thousand stories describing how NUHW improperly collected signatures and asking to have their cards returned. NUHW's tactics are part of a pattern that emerged in Fresno earlier this year when more than a third of the cards they collected from home care workers were found to be invalid when hand checked.

Some workers were told that signing a card was the only way they could keep their union, while others were threatened that they could be deported if they did not sign. In some cases, NUHW representatives said they were from a government agency, and in still others they pressured family members and even home care consumers to sign the cards, rendering them invalid if thoroughly checked.

"To protect these workers' rights and ensure a fair process, each card and each signature should be hand checked against official records," said Leon Chow, who has represented San Francisco home care workers for SEIU-UHW for 12 years.

Examples of the tactics used by NUHW, which home care workers share on video and can be viewed here, include:

Asya Tilman was told to sign "a petition to protect our rights," and it was not until "a few months ago that I realized that, through their lies, they try to move me to a different union." After Asya signed, she was then asked whether her daughter, also a home care worker, was at home, "and he said that I could sign under her name. And that is what I did."

Yuk Wan Leung was overwhelmed when two workers from the hotel union knocked at her door pressuring her to sign a petition. They told her the petition was for their voting freedom and it would not affect her union. Then they refused to leave until she signed.

Mei Fong Tsoi was approached while walking to work and was told to sign the petition to support the union, "I am a working member and I know my union. I even signed for my husband because he is also a homecare provider."

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 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation's fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.

Contact: Adriana Surfas, 510-541-4114, media@seiu-uhw.org

SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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