Monday, May 25, 2009
Here's a transcript from the KPFA Weekend News for this past weekend, in which they did a story on the results of the recent Doctors Medical Center vote, as well as the upcoming vote down in Fresno. The host of the piece is Vanessa Tate, and the two interviewees are Mell Garcia from NUHW, and Nathan Selzer from SEIU. This story can be found approximately 13 minutes into the link above:
VT: Caregivers at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo have overwhelmingly voted to support a new union. The National Union of Healthcare Workers, or NUHW, won the recertification vote among 300 caregivers by nearly 83%. NUHW is a new independent union formed after its leadership had been expelled from the Service Employees International Union's United Healthcare Workers West in a dispute last year. Mell Garcia is a healthcare worker at Kaiser Oakland and was formerly an Executive Board member at the SEIU local, but was removed when SEIU put the local in trusteeship after its leaders opposed it on issues concerning bargaining and internal democracy. She is now an interim board member of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.
MG: "First of all, at DMC in San Pablo, you know, 300 hospital workers voted to come into NUHW, so they essentially won the very first election to join our great new union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and it was overwhelmingly to accept NUHW and to overwhelmingly reject SEIU, 158 to 24. And what that clearly states is that when you allow the workers to speak and to vote, they will make a choice, and NUHW will win when they are allowed to speak and allowed to vote."
VT: But SEIU is claming that the election was tainted because of employer behavior, and has filed a complaint with the state's Public Employee Relations Board which oversaw the election. Nathan Selzer is an SEIU representative.
NS: "We are concerned, one was that Doctors unilaterally imposed changes to access policy that required SEIU UHW representatives be escorted at all times, where that same, that was not required of the NUHW representatives. So that is certainly one thing we want to make sure in all elections, you know, workers are able to speak to whoever is seeking to represent them freely, and not, you know, under the duress of having a security guard or someone standing there while they are continuing to have a conversation about, you know, the changes and improvements they want to make to the workplace."
VT: In response, the National Union of Healthcare Workers told KPFA that to claim an existing representative had more access than a new union was "ridiculous", and, says activist Mell Garcia:
MG: "They tried to shut down the democratic process for the healthcare workers for many, many years, and they just flat-out refused to let us vote. For them to, um, you know, now say there is something wrong with the democratic process because they're losing is very disingenuine (sic). They are trying any angle in their perception to try and block our way to freedom, and clearly like I stated before, when workers are allowed to speak, they make their choice, and they are very clear and very precise about the choice that they want."
VT: SEIU's United Healthcare Workers West currently represents some 150,000 workers in various workplaces statewide. The National Union of Healthcare Workers has petitioned state and federal labor boards to conduct recertification elections in units that contain about 100,000 workers. On June 1st, homecare workers in Fresno will begin voting in a two-week-long mail ballot election on whether they want to decertify SEIU and simultaneously certify the NUWH (sic) to represent them. Seltzer is optimistic about SEIU's chances.
NS: "The Service Employees International Union UHW is one of the largest healthcare locals in the country, actually. We have roughly 150,000 members and have a proven track record of representing healthcare workers' best interests and, you know, achieving very strong contracts. We are committed to moving this local forward, and committed to a process where members are leading the way. We are actively organizing throughout the state, and people are building their committees and are closing contracts to their benefit in a very difficult economic time."
VT: The issue of wages and the state budget is central as well for Mell Garcia of the National Union of Healthcare Workers in the Fresno campaign.
MG: "I can tell you that I am here in Fresno with hundreds of other volunteers, healthcare workers from across the state, to help our homecare workers here take back their union. We want to make sure they understand, specifically, the facts. It's been pretty scary when we've been going door-to-door, the things that SEIU-UHW has been telling them. One case in point, telling them that the leaders that are in charge that took over our union are the ones responsible for elevating the homecare workers' wage rate out here to $10.25, when in fact it's completely the opposite; it is the fired, elected and respected leadership out of UHW that are now moving forward to try to organize workers into NUHW that gained that wage rate for the homecare workers."
VT: The election will decide representation for some 10,000 homecare workers who work for Fresno County's In-Home Support Services.
Will SEIU ever get anything more across than talking points about how big they are? You can be the biggest damn company in the world and not do jack shyte for your customers - just look at the California State Guvmint for examples #1, #2 and #3 in that regard, with the Federal Guvmint not far behind.
It's also amusing to listen to them talk about all the excellent contracts they've gotten across considering their recent track record with Foresight, with the Alameda Hospital debacle, and with SEIU 1021 and the remains of its feet.