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Latest News - August 2010

August 02, 2010
Kaiser SEIU members face vote on rival union
By: Joe Carlson

Just weeks after union members at Kaiser Permanente facilities ratified a three-year labor contract covering 48,000 workers, many of the same employees will be voting in a mail-in ballot on whether to stay with their union or join a new one

More than 43,000 Kaiser employees represented by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers will receive ballots by mail asking whether they want to stay with SEIU or join a new rival union composed of former SEIU officials, called the National United Healthcare Workers.

Officials from both unions say it will be the largest private-sector union election since the 1940s. The deadline for voting is Oct. 4.

The upstart organization has tried with mixed success to steal away members from the SEIU with decertification votes. Press releases from the NUHW say 2,300 Kaiser workers voted this year to break away to the NUHW, but just last week the NUHW lost four elections in Northern California.

The Kaiser contract ratified last month includes 9% pay raises over three years, but the two unions disagree over whether that deal would still apply if NUHW became the workers' union. The SEIU says changing unions would force the workers to re-bargain the contract, while NUHW says federal law would force Kaiser to maintain contract terms when workers switch unions.

A spokeswoman for the National Labor Relations Board said Monday that NUHW would have to negotiate a new agreement, but it was not yet clear what would happen to the existing contract.



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