Monday, April 6, 2009

Central Coast Rebellion

NUHW seems to be a communicable disease down there on the Central Coast - only once you get it, you're cured of Zombie-itis.

It seems that not long after workers at Salinas-Natividad Medical Center (with their colleagues in Monterey County) decided to file for recognition in NUHW, workers at both Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister, and at Watsonville Community Hospital in southern Santa Cruz County have filed to be represented by NUHW.

The Watsonville petition has to go through NLRB, but the Hazel Hawkins petition goes through the California Public Employee Relations Board, as the employees at Hawkins are working for a county hospital in Hollister. We will see how quickly the forces of bureaucracy work at those respective bodies.

Update on 4/7: From the Santa Cruz Sentinel...

Health care workers at Watsonville Community Hospital are taking sides in the dispute between their bargaining agent, Service Employees International Union, and National Union of Healthcare Workers, an upstart organization formed in January by leaders unhappy with SEIU.

"An overwhelming majority of us have signed petitions to choose NUHW as our union," said Kermit Butch Cole, a surgery technician for 19 years. "We need a union we can trust, where we have a voice to stand up for ourselves and our patients."

Cole, 65, said he received a letter Monday from SEIU asking him to resign his position as shop steward, a role he's had for 17 years. He's not about to go quietly.

"SEIU has the right to remove me, but until they do, I'm the steward," he said, noting he was elected by co-workers.


Cole said SEIU has been pressuring workers, telling them if they voted for a new union, they would be fired and lose health insurance.

Health care workers pay about $64 a month in union dues, Cole said, which adds up to about $30 million a year in area dues going to SEIU's headquarters.

"If we don't have to send that $30 million to Washington, D.C., we'd be able to reduce dues by 25 percent," he said, adding. "We decided we don't want automatic dues deduction, we want SEIU to bill us."

Their three-year contract at Watsonville Community Hospital expires July 31; negotiations have not begun.

Note the date of the WCH contract expiry - July 31 of this year. SEIU's going to have one hell of a time trying to fold that one into the contract bar language.

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