SEIU beats upstart again

Workers at a hospital and two nursing homes in Hollister, Calif., have voted to remain in the Service Employees International Union rather than join a rival group launched by former officers of the giant labor organization.

The election was the latest skirmish between the SEIU and the upstart National Union of Healthcare Workers, which has filed election petitions to represent nearly 100,000 employees in California. The SEIU won the Hollister contest by a vote of 73 to 53, although the new union said it planned to challenge the results on legal grounds.

Last week, the 2-million-member SEIU narrowly defeated the tiny NUHW in an election for 10,000 home-care workers in the Fresno area.


The NUHW is also challenging that outcome. It prevailed in a May vote, 158 to 24, to represent workers at a hospital in San Pablo, Calif.

The SEIU has asked federal officials to stop elections at dozens of other hospitals, clinics and nursing homes up and down the state, saying the new union has engaged in a variety of unfair labor practices. The breakaway group calls the allegations baseless and has accused the SEIU of using corporate-style tactics to halt the balloting.

“The SEIU is only willing to have an election where they feel they have a chance of winning,” said John Borsos, an interim vice president of the new union.

SEIU representatives did not respond to questions about why it had agreed to the elections in Fresno and Hollister, but not elsewhere.

The Hollister vote was for a healthcare district that includes Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital.

Most of the election petitions have been pending before the National Labor Relations Board for several months.

Borsos and other leaders of the new union say the board has delayed scheduling votes because of what they assert is political pressure from the SEIU.

Board officials deny that, saying they are still investigating the SEIU’s charges and will hold elections as soon as the allegations are resolved.

The new union is headed by former officers of a statewide, Oakland-based SEIU local. After a long internal feud over the SEIU’s direction, they were ousted early this year by the union’s national office and immediately began circulating the petitions.