After an administrative law judge's ruling that wiped out a union vote affecting 43,000 Kaiser Permanente employees last month, the Service Employees International Union is urging federal officials to call a do-over election as soon as possible. But the breakaway union seeking to raid SEIU's members wants more time.
SEIU, rival wrangle over election date
The National Union of Healthcare Workers, which has been trying to lure members away from SEIU since 2009, lost a ballot measure in September 2009 that asked all of SEIU’s Kaiser workers whether they wanted to switch unions. The final tally of votes cast was 18,290 to 11,364 in favor of keeping the SEIU.
But on July 14, Administrative Law Judge Lana Parke made an unusual recommendation (PDF) to invalidate those votes, concluding that Kaiser’s management had improperly withheld certain compensation benefits from a smaller subset of workers who previously switched to NUHW. Parke ruled the SEIU tainted the voting for the rest of Kaiser workers by implying in campaign materials that employees who switch would lose benefits previously negotiated by the SEIU.
The National Labor Relations Board on Aug. 10 voted to accept Parke’s recommendations and order a new election, after SEIU and Kaiser declared they did not intend to file objections to the judge’s decision. A new vote date has not yet been set.
The SEIU vowed to win by an even larger margin in a second round of voting, and said Wednesday that the union turned in petitions with 18,000 signatures asking the regional NLRB officials to schedule a “speedy election.”
NUHW officials, meanwhile, say they intend to ask for further investigation into the original election rather than cruise into a new round of voting. NUHW spokesman Leighton Woodhouse said the union will file new complaints about Kaiser’s conduct in the 2010 election by Thursday because of ongoing concerns that similar conduct would taint a second election.
NUHW was formed in 2009 by former SEIU officials. The upstart group now represents about 9,000 workers, most of whom are former SEIU members.
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