Wednesday, April 24, 2013

SEIU-UHW Member at Kaiser: "We Don't Get Representation. And We Need It... It's Heartbreaking"

Here’s the latest article about the Kaiser election. It features an interview with a Medical Assistant at Kaiser Hayward Medical Center named Mell Garcia. The article, entitled “Nail-Biting Time at Kaiser,” appears in CounterPunch and is authored by Cal Winslow.

In the article, Garcia describes how she was a Shop Steward at her hospital for many years... until Dave Regan removed her and 1,000 other stewards during SEIU's trusteeship in 2009. Next, Regan prohibited union members from being stewards unless they signed loyalty oaths. 

Today, says Garcia, SEIU-UHW fails to provide even basic representation to Kaiser workers. And there's plenty of evidence to back up Garcia's statements... including the hundreds of "duty of fair representation" charges that workers have filed against SEIU-UHW... as well as the tape recording of SEIU-UHW's shop stewards describing how Kaiser basically has free rein to fire workers, including at least 239 during the past nine months. Check out excerpts from Garcia's interview below.

Meanwhile, a Kaiser worker from Southern California describes how absurd things have gotten in her hospital as far as representation.  
Before the election, you couldn't get a call back from SEIU. But now, bcuz of the election, the SEIU reps are all over our hospital. At lunch there just about glued to our hips bcuz there trying to listen to our conversations. Basically spying on us, won't leave us alone. Where were they when we needed representation?
Finally, here are some excerpts from the interview with Garcia:
We don’t get representation. And we need it. The workers need stewards and they need to know who they are, they need to recognize them, they need to trust them… Workers need stewards who will stand by them, who will be there with them, be on their side... That’s how trust is built. The steward should be an example to the workers.

Now we can’t find a steward. It’s heartbreaking. I can’t do it. Management won’t let me. But I do my best. It’s what I’m like. It’s why I get here early, every day I walk the floors. I make connections at lunch time, at five o’clock I walk the floors again.

I was a steward because workers want protection and because they have rights, rights that they want respected. And that’s what the contract is about.

I know what a union is and what it’s supposed to be like and how it’s to be run.  It’s not something for one person or two people and it’s not to be run from the top down but from the bottom up by every single worker in every worksite.
It’s not for retaliation and not for cronyism.