Friday, April 5, 2019

Election Brings Initial Loss for SEIU at Kaiser

SEIU may be on the brink of losing a unit of 343 Registered Nurses at Kaiser Moreno Valley Medical Center in Southern California.

Last Friday, nurses cast their votes in an NLRB election triggered by members of SEIU Local 121 who requested a formal vote so they can leave SEIU because they’re dissatisfied with the union.

On election night, a majority of the ballots supported leaving SEIU. The final vote tally won’t be finalized until three dozen “challenged” ballots are resolved. According to the NLRB, the vote tally at the end of election night was the following:

No Union:  120
SEIU Local 121:  111
Challenged Ballots:  37

SEIU Local 121 appears to be worried it’ll lose the election when the “challenged” ballots are finally counted. After the vote count, it filed a formal appeal with the NLRB in an effort to overturn the entire election.

The hospital’s nurses have been members of SEIU for more than 10 years but have been dissatisfied with SEIU for a long time, according to an RN who called the purple union “fear mongers.”

The vote couldn’t come at a worse time for SEIU. The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which includes Local 121 and other SEIU locals, will go back to the bargaining table with Kaiser for the first time on April 17 to negotiate a “national agreement.”

Since 2009, SEIU unions at Kaiser have been led by SEIU-UHW president Dave Regan, who has given away massive cuts in health benefits and retirement plans at hospital chains across California. Kaiser now appears to be angling to win the same cuts for its workers. 

Regan has been a big proponent of “partnership” deals with Kaiser and even colluded with Kaiser executives to fight strikes by other Kaiser workers, including statewide walkouts by the National Union of Healthcare Workers and the California Nurses Association.

Last year, Kaiser’s partnership unions split into two after Regan reportedly attempted to seize more decision-making power inside the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. The unions fed up with Regan broke away and formed a new coalition called the Alliance of Health Care Unions, which negotiated a national agreement of its own in 2018.