Battle Between California Healthcare Worker Unions Intensifies: NLRB Orders That Elections Proceed

The ongoing war between the United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) for health care employee representation supremacy in California has taken a new twist. After more than a year of delays caused by the filing of scores of “blocking” unfair labor practice charges by SEIU-UHW, a National Labor Relations Board Regional Director in San Francisco ordered on March 1, 2010 that representation elections be conducted at 31 California-based health care facilities involving some 6,800 employees. More than 30 other elections in California remain stalled, however, because SEIU-UHW’s blocking charges are still pending.

The elections will test whether NUHW (a rival union formed by the recently-ousted leaders of UHW) can dislodge SEIU-UHW’s iron-grip on many union-represented health care facilities in California. Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW has accused NUHW of resorting to many of the same “blocking charge” filing tactics, claiming that NUHW now fears it can no longer achieve majority support at some of these facilities. In a separate development, members of SEIU Local 1021 (San Francisco), who are foes of SEIU’s President, Andy Stern, recently defeated a Stern-appointed slate of candidates in what supporters are calling a “striking blow to SEIU’s national leadership.” The new leaders hope that local election is a turning point for SEIU, with reverberations felt far beyond California. Not to be outdone, 116 prominent San Francisco politicians have urged SEIU to sign a “fair election” petition, to discourage intimidation and pressure tactics.

Where, when and how this internecine battle between competing health care unions will end and which CA unions will remain standing after the fray is anyone’s guess.

For more on this issue, see Littler’s Insight article, Union Wars: SEIU vs. UHW and NUHW.

This entry was written by David Rosen.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.