The new group, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, is collecting
union cards from UHW members as fight over representation with SEIU
The ousted leaders of Oakland-based United Healthcare Workers West on
Wednesday announced that they have formed a new union and intend to
begin recruiting their former members, a continuation of brinkmanship
between UHW and the Service Employees International Union.
new group is called the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and
organizers are busily collecting union cards from UHW members, the
first step toward recognition in workplaces.
"It makes no sense for us that any group of
leaders create another vehicle to represent workers who are already in
a union," replied SEIU board member Mary Kay Henry, noting that she was
angry at the move.
SEIU, which took over UHW on Tuesday, sent
employers a memo saying that the parent union was now in charge, that
UHW staff no longer had any authority and that employers should report
any contact by UHW staff.
Sal Rosselli, who was removed as
president of UHW, said employers stopped contract negotiations and told
shop stewards that they would no longer recognize their authority in
But Dave Regan, one of the co-trustees appointed
by SEIU, said shop stewards and other rank-and-file representatives
have not been stripped of their positions and are trying to ensure that
all bargaining goes forward without delay.
As accusations and
counter-accusations continued to fly, other groups began taking sides.
Consumer Watchdog, a patients’ rights group, and the California Nurses
Assn. both made public their support of UHW’s former leadership, which
they say negotiated better contracts.
"When [SEIU] unions take
over, they are very favorable for the nursing home owners," said Jamie
Court of Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog.
SEIU and UHW have
been in a protracted disagreement over organizing and negotiating
methods for healthcare workers. The fight has come to a head over
65,000 home health aides, now members of UHW, which SEIU decided to
take out of UHW and put into a new union representing the state’s
240,000 home health aides.
After hearings on alleged financial
improprieties by UHW, a hearing officer recommended that UHW be put in
trusteeship if it did not cooperate with the merger. UHW refused to do
so without majority support.