Thursday, May 2, 2013

Report from Day 1 at Kaiser Ballot Count

Here’s a report from the first day of the Kaiser ballot count at the federal building in downtown Oakland, California.

First, the NLRB ballot count is far from over and likely won’t be finished until the end of the day tomorrow (May 2). So far, there are no interim results.

Secondly, workers who attended the ballot count say there's a massive “enthusiasm differential” between the two unions. Apparently, the day started off with a bang when red-shirted Kaiser workers began arriving at the federal building at 7:30am. Some workers had driven overnight for 7 hours in packed cars from Southern California.

By 8:00am, nearly 300 NUHW supporters were in long lines that snaked through the building’s lobby. As additional groups of NUHW supporters arrived from Fresno, Ventura County, Los Angeles and points south, the crowd erupted in cheers.

What about SEIU-UHW?

The purple supporters were as scarce as ice cubes in the Mojave. Only 4-6 Kaiser workers were reportedly in SEIU-UHW’s contingent, which was largely comprised of union staffers like Latasha Winslow-Beavers, Flannery Hauck, Joe "Wellness Walk" Simoes and Greg Pullman.

As the crowd of red-shirted supporters continued to grow, SEIU-UHW’s staffers became increasingly nervous. Soon, Homeland Security was called to the scene... apparently at the request of SEIU-UHW, according to an article in the Sacramento Business Journal. It turns out that a large crowd of red-shirted workers on May Day produces a certain reaction in the reptilian brains of SEIU fat-cats and federal officials.

Officials from Homeland Security quickly shut down the metal-detector-equipped entrances to the federal building and pronounced, “There are too many of you.” Negotiations ensued, with the NLRB even threatening to impound the ballots unless a small crew of Kaiser workers sitting patiently in the fifth-floor cafeteria agreed to exit the building. 

In a picture taken just before exiting the cafeteria, here are the workers... who'd been properly admitted into the building and simply awaited their turn to serve as official observers in their ballot count.

Workers say they were particularly surprised by the Feds’ aggressive response because during the 2010 ballot count, workers were permitted to wait in the cafeteria for their turn to help safeguard the integrity of the ballot count.

Here’s a shot of some of the workers who were locked out of the federal building.

Fortunately, the locked-out workers found creative ways to pass the time, including attempting to visit the union office that’s funded by their monthly dues. SEIU’s Dave Regan (who didn’t show his face at the ballot count) reportedly called a Code Red from his Purple Couch... and barred the dues-paying members from entering their union hall.

According to readers, the ballot counting process is revealing important differences between the two unions. The NLRB set up 15 tables where representatives of each union reviews every mailed-in envelope to determine whether they are properly completed and submitted by eligible voters. SEIU-UHW officials assigned union staffers to carry out this role. Meanwhile, NUHW deployed successive groups of Kaiser workers who’d used vacation days and self-funded trips to attend the vote count.  

So what happens tomorrow? 

Tasty hears that the envelope-by-envelope review of ballots will likely be finished by the late morning. In the meantime, the already-approved envelopes will be cut open and the ballots will begin to be counted as representatives from side look on. It's possible that the count will be finished by the end of the day.

Stay tuned!