Hospitals Seize on SEIU’s Kaiser Victory to Lay Off Workers
Randy Shaw | Beyond Chron
Oct. 14‚ 2010
In the wake of SEIU-UHW’s electoral victory last week over NUHW at Kaiser, nearly 200 UHW members are being laid off at two hospitals that had no union layoffs for at least twenty years. SEIU is not helping employees resist the layoffs at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital and Seton Medical Center, and in the former case the union’s stance is likely related to its members voting last spring to join NUHW though SEIU filed a challenge and still collects dues. The layoffs are an important reminder that media framing of the SEIU-NUHW dispute as based on personalities and egos ignored the contrast between two fundamentally different models for representing workers. SEIU has facilitated layoffs or simply failed to enforce workers’ contract rights, whereas the prior UHW leadership team now with NUHW negotiated strong protections against layoffs and aggressively defended workers’ jobs and contracts.
After Kaiser Permanente did everything in its power to help SEIU defeat NUHW, we now see why other hospitals also prefer SEIU-UHW as their workers bargaining representative. Unprecedented layoffs have just been announced at two hospitals, and in neither case is SEIU working hard for workers seeking to keep their jobs.
Better Unemployed or Non-Union than NUHW RedAt Salinas Valley where SEIU was soundly defeated on May 17, it has continued to challenge the election’s outcome. This means that UHW still serves as the workers’ legally authorized union and collects monthly dues, even though SEIU is taking no action to resist the planned elimination of 117 jobs.
It’s clear that SEIU does not want to fight for workers who have voted to leave for NUHW. Yet because SEIU’s challenges have delayed the designation of NUHW as the new bargaining representative, NUHW has no legal authority to sit down with the employer and demand a reversal of the layoffs.
I guess this is part of UHW Trustee Dave Regan’s overall strategy. Delay elections as long as possible, and if SEIU eventually loses, allow hospital layoffs to reduce NUHW’s membership base.
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