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SEIU wins union vote from Kaiser workers, defeating smaller rival

May 02, 2013|By Chad Terhune
  • SEIU won a big union vote among Kaiser Permanente employees in California in results announced Thursday.
SEIU won a big union vote among Kaiser Permanente employees in California… (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles…)

Workers at healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente in California voted to remain with the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West union in a bitterly contested election pitting a labor giant against a smaller rival.

The SEIU-UHW said it garnered nearly 19,000 employee votes, or 58% of the total counted, compared with about 13,000, or 41%, for the competing National Union of Healthcare Workers.

About 1% voted for no union.

The results were announced late Thursday after the National Labor Relations Board counted mail-in ballots for two days. Ballots had gone out to about 45,000 service, technical and clerical workers employed by Kaiser at more than 30 hospitals and hundreds of clinics across the state.

SEIU-UHW said it was the largest private-sector union election in the U.S. since 1941 at Ford Motor Co.

The union had won a similar vote among Kaiser employees in 2010, but the federal labor board threw out that result after concluding that it had threatened some members who supported NUHW.

The smaller rival and the California Nurses Assn., which teamed up during this election, said in a statement that SEIU-UHW and Kaiser had worked together improperly to tilt "the election playing field in favor of the incumbent union."

Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW, called on his rival unions to focus on organizing non-union workers "instead of attacking people who already are in a union and have the best contract in the country."

Unions nationwide have been facing a steady erosion of membership in the private sector.

SEIU-UHW is part of the Service Employees International Union, which has 2.2 million members nationwide.

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