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Beating the Purple Beast: Kaiser Mental Health and Optical Professionals Vote to Join NUHW

OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 12, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Approximately 1,500 Kaiser mental health professionals and optical workers in Northern California have voted to leave the Service Employees International Union SEIU and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers NUHW. The National Labor Relations Board NLRB concluded the ballot count Wednesday afternoon with a final tally of 603 for NUHW to 196 for SEIU in the Integrated Behavioral Health Services IBHS unit, and 154 for NUHW to 142 for SEIU in the optical unit.

“This is a victory for democracy. Now we will have a real voice regarding issues of patient care, staffing and workload,” said Spencer Gross, a psychologist at Kaiser Pleasanton for 23 years.Kaisers Northern California mental health and optical workers will join 2,300 psychologists, social workers, dietitians, audiologists, speech pathologists, health educators and nurses in Southern California Kaiser hospitals and clinics who voted overwhelmingly to join NUHW in January.

In a smaller bargaining unit of 368 social workers, SEIUs illegal collusion with Kaiser management was too large an obstacle for NUHW supporters to overcome. SEIU won by just 9 votes out of 288 cast.

NUHWs newest members overcame a relentless campaign by SEIU designed to instill fear that workers would lose the provisions guaranteed under their existing contract if they voted for the new union – a claim clearly contradicted by settled labor law.

Kaiser management unlawfully assisted SEIU in the election by bringing organizers into mandatory work meetings to campaign against NUHW, and allowed SEIU to use the companys email system to disseminate its campaign messages.

Last month, the NLRB announced its intention to seek an injunction in response to Kaisers decision to illegally withhold scheduled raises for 2,300 Kaiser professionals in Southern California, an action that formed the basis of SEIUs misleading message to Northern California professionals that an NUHW victory would put workers contract gains in jeopardy.

As NUHW members, Kaiser professionals priorities at the bargaining table will include reversing the takeaways SEIU agreed to in its latest round of negotiations with Kaiser, and winning improvements to job security, health insurance benefits and patient care standards.

SOURCE National Union of Healthcare Workers

via PRNewswire-USNewswire.

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