NUHW Landslide Election in S. California

Yesterday, 2,300 caregivers at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California won a landslide election victory to join NUHW and leave SEIU. According to official NLRB results, 85% of the caregivers voted for NUHW, with only 13% voting for SEIU.

The vote totals for three separate bargaining units are as follows:

RN Unit: 746 (NUHW), 36 (SEIU) and 3 (No Union).
Psych-Social Unit: 717 (NUHW), 192 (SEIU) and 7 (No Union).
Healthcare Professionals Unit: 189 (NUHW), 29 (SEIU) and 13 (No Union).

The election was characterized by high voter turnout, with more than 80% of voting-eligible workers casting ballots. See the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Sacramento Business Journal, Beyond Chron , In These Times and Labor Notes for more coverage of the election.

Yesterday’s election carried particularly high stakes given that 50,000 additional Kaiser employees are currently petitioning for an election this summer. Last year, SEIU and Kaiser’s management intervened to stop an earlier election request by these same employees, prompting workers to launch their second petition-gathering effort.

Yesterday’s election was also significant in that it served as an important gauge of workers’ opinions one year after SEIU President Andy Stern imposed an unpopular trusteeship on January 27, 2009. Particularly stunning is the fact that RNs voted by a 95%-to-5% margin to join NUHW — a margin that is unheard of in sharply contested elections, especially where the losing union enjoys a large resource advantage.

Also yesterday, NUHW issued a report on the first year since its founding. The report finds that:

  • NUHW has organized 3,357 new members, making NUHW California’s fastest-growing union.
  • NUHW has won 7 out of 9 competitive elections against SEIU, with a majority of individual voters across all elections choosing NUHW.
  • NUHW is organizing the unorganized, including winning a voice for 900 caregivers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in the nation’s biggest hospital election of 2009. Four of NUHW’s eight election victories have been by formerly non-union workers.

Meanwhile, under the guidance of trustees appointed by SEIU President Andy Stern:
SEIU-UHW has not organized any new members since Jan. 2009. SEIU-UHW participated in only three elections for unorganized workers, and lost all three.
Instead, SEIU-UHW is beginning to shrink, having lost several thousand members to NUHW.

Finally, a majority of workers at most SEIU-UHW-represented healthcare facilities — representing 100,000 of SEIU-UHW’s 150,000 members — petitioned the labor board in 2009 for elections to quit SEIU and join NUHW. Most of the elections are expected to be scheduled this year — an opportunity for more than 60,000 more workers to vote to join NUHW.


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