When Workers Fight: NUHW Wins Battle with Kaiser

National Union of Healthcare Workers

National Union of Healthcare Workers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://www.beyondchron.org/when-workers-fight-nuhw-wins-battle-with-kaiser/

Cal Winslow, Beyond Chron

The therapists, counselors, and social workers at Kaiser Permanente in California have won a magnificent victory. In a last minute retreat, in the face of an open-ended strike, Kaiser, the giant California health care corporation, settled with 1400 workers and their union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

The therapists’ victory is a landmark, in healthcare and above all in mental healthcare. The bottom line: these workers have won patient care ratios, they’ve won the right to advocate for patients, and they won these in a context of a nationwide drive to cut costs and press productivity in an industry awash in cash.

For Barry Kamil, a psychologist with 34 years experience at Kaiser in Richmond, CA, “It’s an historic victory. It puts our union in the forefront of the movement for getting mental health care on par with medical care.  Kaiser’s resistance has been unbelievable; they wanted to eliminate us as a union.”

The Kaiser workers won on economic demands as well; 6 % the first year, 4.5% plus bonuses in the second and third years of a three year contract. They protected their pension benefits; Kaiser – what’s new – proposed erasing their defined benefit plan.
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What ever happened to solidarity ?

Duane Campbell

Duane Campbell

by Duane Campbell

On November 11, 2014, the California Nurses Association ( AFL-CIO) goes on strike while SEIU ( CTW) sends its members into work across the picket lines.

The ILWU prepares for a possible West Coast strike that could close the ports. What will other unions do?

I recognize the arguments about strategic plans and contract obligations for an advance notice for a strike.

But, when unions members are encouraged to cross picket lines – what do you have? While critics write essays about the internal conflicts in national union offices and new directions, if union members are not organized and led to not cross picket lines then all the rest is B.S.

In campaigns we call for international solidarity with workers across the globe ( a worthy goal) but many union leaders do not encourage solidarity with the worker down the street.

When national union leaders act as if union solidarity is of little importance, not much more than office politics, then it is no wonder that unions can’t win a contract nor an election in Tennessee. These unions are not  demonstrating  that solidarity works and workers in non union plants and non union states learn from their example.

California Nurses Begin Strike on Tues

NATIONAL ACTIONS BEGIN WITH CALIFORNIA STRIKES TUESDAY

talks-stall-as-strike-nears-for-18000-kaiser-rnsRegistered nurses from California to Maine will hold strikes, picketing, and other actions Wednesday, November 12 in 16 U.S. states and the District of Columbia – with possible support actions globally – as National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of nurses steps up the demand for tougher Ebola safety precautions in the nation’s hospitals.

One centerpiece of the actions will be a two-day strike by 18,000 RNs and nurse practitioners at 86 Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics who have been protesting the erosion of patient care standards in Kaiser facilities for months, and see Kaiser’s failure to adopt the optimal safeguards for Ebola as symbolic of its overall dismissal of nurses’ concerns about patient care.

Strikes will also affect some 600 RNs at two other California hospitals, Sutter Tracy and Watsonville General Hospital, and 400 RNs at Providence Hospital in Washington D.C.

The two-day California strikes begin Tuesday morning. The Providence walkout is Wednesday. Continue reading

Healthcare Costs Go Viral: Emergency Declared by San Francisco Labor

by Carl Finamore

finamore_healthemerIt’s a national epidemic finally getting some long overdue attention. To put rising costs in perspective, a dozen oranges today would cost $134 if adjusted at the same rate of price inflation that we’ve seen in healthcare since 1945.

And, it’s only getting worse. California health insurance premiums soared 185% since 2002. But we’ve heard these complaints before, it’s not new.

What is new is that the largest unions in San Francisco are doing something to reign in price gouging by insurers like California-based Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest HMO with 9.1 million subscribers.

For UNITE-HERE Local 2, one of the city’s largest unions representing 13,000 employees of restaurants and hotels in and around San Francisco, it has become a necessity. Continue reading

SEIU Wins Again at Kaiser, But Militant Minority Grows

       by Steve Early

Steve Early

Steve Early

Thirty-one months ago, when the Service Employees International Union first defeated the National Union of Healthcare Workers in a unit of 45,000 service and technical workers at Kaiser Permanente in California, SEIU leader Dave Regan proclaimed that “NUHW is now, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant.”

That obituary proved a little premature. Rank-and-file supporters of NUHW remained alive and kicking, not only at Kaiser but also in other healthcare workplaces around the state. Using member-based internal and external organizing methods, NUHW largely bucked the national tide of concession bargaining in nearly 20 new units composed of previously unorganized workers or SEIU defectors.

With strong financial backing from its new affiliation partner, the California Nurses Association (CNA), NUHW has been gearing up since January for a re-run of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election at Kaiser. SEIU won the first round in October 2010 with 18,290 votes to NUHW’s 11,364.

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The Big Do-Over at Kaiser

Which way will 45,000 California healthcare workers swing? The answer has major implications for labor

By Steve Early

Steve Early

Steve Early

For seventy years, there was no bigger union representation vote in the private sector than the 2010 election involving 45,000 workers at Kaiser Permanente (KP), the giant health care chain in California. Now, the same labor and management parties are engaged in a costly re-match with wider implications for labor.

The initial election pitted the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) against its new California rival, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). SEIU, the incumbent union, retained its bargaining rights by the healthy margin of 18,290 to 11,364. But, according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), that victory was tainted by SEIU misbehavior similar to that of anti-union employers—the kind of tactics usually termed “union-busting.” Over SEIU’s objections, the NLRB ordered a re-run of unprecedented scale.

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California Health Workers Get a Second Chance What It’s All About

By Carl Finamore

Carl Finamore

Carl Finamore

Except for maybe the famously intractable George Bush and Dick Cheney, it’s pretty common to want to take back something we did in life.

American slang celebrates this new opportunity – we get “another swing at the bat,” “another crack at it” or we take “a mulligan” which for millions of amateur golfers means replaying an errant shot that lands in a bunker.

This is where 45,000 Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers spread across 32 locations in California find themselves today. The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) argues they have a second chance to dig themselves out of a sand trap.

It’s because the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced a revote of a 2010 representation election between NUHW and SEIU-UHW where the latter prevailed by violating the law and colluding with Kaiser to rig the vote. There is no nice way to say it. These are the facts.

The government agency admitted it rarely overturns elections of this size and scope but on this occasion, the egregious violations compelled it to act. The official NLRB statement noted misconduct by “SEIU-UHW, that the judge found to have interfered with the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice.”

A new mail ballot election has been, therefore, scheduled for April 5 to April 29 with the vote count starting on May 1.

I recently spent an afternoon at Kaiser San Francisco to see what I could find out.

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The Big One is Coming Strikes Rattle California Hospitals

By Carl Finamore

Nurses Union convention

California nurses pour into their September 14-16 NNU national convention in San Francisco chanting "Strike!, Strike!, Strike!"

The sudden release of stored energy could easily describe earthquakes, of which we are very familiar in California. But this week, tremors of a different sort will shake the state from north to south.

The sudden release of pent up frustrations from more than 23,000 registered nurses at 34 Northern and Central California hospitals will explode to the surface in a one-day strike on Thursday, September 22.

The work stoppage affects two of California’s largest and most profitable hospital chains, Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente, as well as Children’s Hospital Oakland.

“The strike at Sutter comes after nine months of failed negotiations,” Deborah Burger, RN, told me. Burger is president of National Nurses United (NNU) and co-president of its affiliate, the California Nurses Association (CNA).

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Thousands of California Health Care Workers to Strike

National Union of Healthcare Workers

Image via Wikipedia

In two weeks, the largest strike in Kaiser Permanente’s history
4,000 NUHW members and 17,000 California Nurses Association members to engage in largest strike in Kaiser’s History

NUHW issues official notice of giant health insurer’s first ever statewide strike

Yesterday, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) issued official notice to Kaiser Permanente of the union’s plan to engage in a statewide strike by 4,000 Kaiser caregivers should management continue to refuse to bargain in good faith toward a fair contract that safeguards quality patient care and that leaves workers’ benefits intact.

Despite enjoying record profits over the last two years, Kaiser administrators are insisting on implementing major reductions to workers’ healthcare coverage and retirement benefits. NUHW members have refused to roll over and accept management’s demands, and are holding the line against cuts which Kaiser intends to impose upon tens of thousands more employees represented by other unions as their contracts come up for renewal over the next several years.

The California Nurses Association, which represents 17,000 Registered Nurses at Kaiser, will join NUHW members in the largest strike in Kaiser’s history. Workers will walk off the job for one-, two- and three-day durations from September 21st to 23rd. Continue reading

New Election Ordered at Kaiser Permanente

by Paul Garver

In October 2010 the NLRB certified SEIU (with 61% of the vote) as the victor over the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW with 38%) in a long delayed election for which union would represent the largest unit of healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente. As Talking Union reported, the NUHW filed charges that SEIU and Kaiser had conspired to prevent a free and uncoerced electoral process, while the SEIU claimed victory and demanded that NUHW accept the results of the election and drop its challenge.

Approximately 43,000 California healthcare workers employed by Kaiser Permanente are now preparing for a re-run of the largest private-sector union election in 70 years after an NLRB administrative law judge recommended throwing out the results of last year’s election between NUHW and SEIU.

Writing in a 34-page decision, Administrative Law Judge Lana Parke found SEIU guilty of misconduct that “interfered with the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice” and determined that SEIU broke the law through campaign tactics that “tended to stoke unwarranted and coercive voter fears.”

Prior to the election, Kaiser had unlawfully withheld wage increases and other promised benefits from 2,300 Southern California professional employees and registered nurses who voted overwhelmingly to join NUHW in January 2010.

According to Judge Parke, SEIU piggybacked on Kaiser’s illegal behavior by threatening the 43,000 workers that they, too, would lose wages and benefits if they voted for NUHW. The judge found that Kaiser’s illegal actions “figured as silent, menacing reminders that Kaiser not only could, but already had, unilaterally withheld benefits when other employees had chosen to be represented by NUHW.”

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