Workers vote to join NUHW in Santa Rosa

Workers at Santa Rosa Memorial hospital voted to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) last Friday after a six-year effort to form a union at their hospital.

The ballot count, in an election where 50%+1 of the votes were needed to win outright was:

283 NUHW

263 No Union


As Randy Shaw wrote this morning:

NUHW has now won organized labor’s biggest hospital election victory of 2009, overcoming a joint “No Union” campaign mounted by management and SEIU.

a six-year campaign to form a union results in a vote for NUHW

Nancy Timberlake, a Telemetry Technician at Memorial, was overjoyed:

We are all so excited to finally have a voice to make our hospital a better place to work and better for our community. We stuck together for six years and we finally did it. I’m so relieved and so happy that we won.

-Nancy Timberlake, Telemetry Technician, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital

As Randy Shaw noted in Beyond Chron, it was the commitment of workers that won this election:

NUHW out-organized, out-strategized, and out-worked SEIU. But it became abundantly clear as I watched Election Day events that the main reason for NUHW’s success was this: pro-NUHW workers and staff wanted it more. SEIU gave no impression it ever cared about SRMH workers, using them as mere cannon fodder in its larger war against NUHW. [snip]

Anyone talking to Gabby Martinez, a NUHW supporter at St. Joseph’s Mission Hospital in Orange County who spent the last two weeks on the campaign, soon realizes that this fight in Santa Rosa was not about money. Nor was it about power or ego. Rather, it was about workers passionate for respect, dignity and fairness in the workplace. That’s why SEIU’s relentless attacks on NUHW leader Sal Rosselli, and his allegedly “corrupt” allies, fell flat. SEIU never focused on what workers cared about, while NUHW spent all of its time focusing on how a union could help workers lives.


SEIU’s expensive campaign yields 13 votes and a strong reaction

SEIU spared no expense in a campaign that won only 13 votes for SEIU-UHW but which undoubtedly boosted the no-union vote total through SEIU’s relentless attacks on NUHW in negative mailers and home visits. Workers reacted strongly to SEIU’s expensive and negative campaign against NUHW:

“We’re sorry that SEIU spent so much on a campaign where they weren’t invited. I feel sorry for all the members who put out all that money for SEIU’s campaign.”

-Sherrie Dickey, Clinical Lab Assistant, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital

Knowing how little support they had, SEIU even sent hundreds of paid staff to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital to picket the hospital in what was a clear anti-NUHW protest. Here was Memorial caregivers’ response:

Shaw calls the vote results a “disaster” for SEIU:

After a relentless campaign attacking NUHW, its staff, and its very right to call itself a union, SEIU lost 283-13 among workers desiring a union. It’s going to take a heckuva spinmeister for SEIU to explain to workers in other hospitals why they should trust SEIU over NUHW when those at SRMH clearly did not.


Community and Social Justice solidarity

The six-year Santa Rosa Memorial organizing campaign was marked by the involvement of local labor, political, clergy and social justice allies. Scholars, caregivers and leaders in the Santa Rosa faith and political communities all stood up to demand a fair election. NUHW’s social justice support even included a visit from UFW co-founder, Dolores Huerta: “Huerta visited workers on the first evening of voting, and then returned to the hospital at 6:00am the next day to urge the morning shift to back NUHW.”

Of course, it was the steady effort of the workers themselves that won this victory. Knowing it was a close election, every vote and every last effort counted towards securing the outcome.


You can support a democratic member-led union of healthcare workers by joining our Facebook Solidarity Group and following NUHW on Twitter.

{Paul Delehanty is an employee of NUHW, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, a vibrant and democratic movement of healthcare workers, dedicated to dignity, justice, and healthcare for all.}

One thought on “Workers vote to join NUHW in Santa Rosa”

  1. Paul Garver at Talking Union adds:

    SEIU had poured in forty organizers to block NUHW’s electoral victory, but secured only 13 votes for SEIU against 283 for NUHW. However SEIU’s ham-handed intervention, which focused almost exclusively on attacking the NUHW, did succeed in boosting the No Union vote to 263, nearly frustrating the workers’ right to organize.

    And here’s the election night article from the LA Times.

    Next month, more than 2,300 Kaiser Permanente professionals in Southern California will have elections to vote to join NUHW. In all, a majority of 100,000 workers at 360 facilities across California have petitioned to join NUHW and are waiting for similar elections.

Comments are closed.