Friday, Jul. 16, 2010 at 8:04 AM
Victory at union's second Catholic health system also marks beginning of campaign by 13,000 workers at Catholic Healthcare West
Tarzana, Calif.—Nearly 600 caregivers at Providence Tarzana Medical Center voted today in an election to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) and quit the scandal-stained SEIU.
Voting concluded at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday. Although the defeated incumbent union filed complaints with the labor board that have postponed the ballot count, an absolute majority of Providence Tarzana workers signed a public statement pledging their votes for NUHW.
For these healthcare workers, there is no question which union they want to be part of.
"Today, we've taken back our union," said Julie Sidrow-Thompson, a monitor tech at the hospital. "For a year and a half, SEIU has stood in our way and left us without a voice. Now that we're united again in NUHW, we have the strength we need to stand up for our patients and ourselves."
Providence is the second Catholic hospital system where workers have organized with NUHW, after St. Joseph Health System workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital joined last year.
Tomorrow, the 13,000 caregivers at Catholic Healthcare West—the largest non-profit healthcare provider in California—will begin collecting signatures to call for their own election to join NUHW once they are eligible to change unions next year.
And within weeks, the National Labor Relations Board will set a date for 45,000 Kaiser Permanente workers to make the switch in the biggest private sector union election since the 1940s.
All of these workers are part of a mass exodus of SEIU members who have made NUHW the fastest-growing union in California.
The movement began last January, when SEIU officials from Washington, D.C. took over California’s healthcare union, forced healthcare workers from elected positions, and put themselves in charge. The next day, dozens of healthcare workers voted to establish NUHW as a new, independent union.
Workers at more than 360 facilities have petitioned to join NUHW in the last 15 months, and most are still waiting for their elections. More than 5,600 caregivers at Kaiser facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes have already joined NUHW.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers is California’s fastest-growing union, representing caregivers in every job classification. NUHW is dedicated to member democracy, dignity and justice for healthcare workers, and quality, affordable healthcare for all.