THE BLOG

NUHW vs. SEIU: Kaiser Workers Prepare to Make History

09/06/2010 01:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As our nation celebrates Labor Day, Kaiser healthcare workers in California are celebrating an action by the Obama Administration's National Labor Relations Board that protects our rights and gives new momentum to our movement to get our union back under members' control.

On August 27, the Board's General Counsel took legal action (Case #21-CA-39296) to protect Kaiser RNs and professionals who have joined NUHW and are entitled to all of their previously scheduled raises, tuition reimbursements, and other benefits of our union contract.

This is great news, not just to the 2,300 NUHW members at Kaiser, but for the 43,500 of us who will vote to become members of NUHW starting Sept. 13.

Nearly 30,000 of us signed petitions telling the government that we want NUHW to be our union and we wanted this election to make it official -- the biggest private sector union election in more than 70 years.

For months, SEIU has been sending staff into our workplaces and mailers to our homes, with one big threat: they claimed we would lose our raises and benefits if we joined NUHW.

We knew our raises and benefits were protected by law, and now the NLRB has put it in writing again with their latest action. We can vote for NUHW, a union that tells the truth about our rights and about our raises and benefits.

As a Kaiser healthcare worker and union steward for over 30 years, and as a member of the negotiating team that bargained the Kaiser National Agreement in 2005, I know that many of my co-workers are asking important questions right now. "Which union is better, NUHW or SEIU? (Facts)" "Will my wages and benefits be safe if I join NUHW? (Wages)" "Why does SEIU spend so much time talking about Sal Rosselli?" "Why was our lump sum pension reduced? (Retirement)" "Why did SEIU agree to layoffs last year while Kaiser made $2.1 billion in profits? (Job Security)" "Why did SEIU promise management they'd support healthcare takeaways next year? (Health Benefits)"

As Kaiser workers forming NUHW, we've built a website called Kaisercoworkers.org, to answer all of those questions and more with documentation and clearly-explained facts. I encourage any Kaiser worker who wants to make an informed decision in our election to visit Kaisercoworkers.org today.

I tell my co-workers that I have a simple explanation why Kaiser workers should vote to join NUHW: the wages and health benefits we have earned over decades will only be safe from SEIU's side deals when we get our union back under our control.

Unlike SEIU, NUHW is a union that is accountable to healthcare workers, and only to healthcare workers. Since California healthcare workers are the people building NUHW, we know that our union won't cut side deals with Kaiser executives that give away our benefits or job security.

That's the kind of accountability we need. We are forming NUHW to bring back integrity and democracy in our union.

This Labor Day, Kaiser workers are celebrating an action by the National Labor Relations Board protecting our rights. When Kaiser workers across California make history by voting to join NUHW, the whole labor movement will celebrate our victory.