Advisory vote begins on California long-term care local union

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SEIU healthcare members began casting ballots this week in an advisory vote on two reorganization plans.

Members will have an opportunity to register their preferences on whether they want to be part of a new single statewide long-term care local union or a new statewide local representing a broader classification of healthcare workers.

“The SEIU Constitution requires that matter be decided by the IEB, but we feel it is important to gather direct input from rank-and-file members,” said SEIU President Andy Stern. “We need to hear our members’ voices.”

The California reorganization is part of a long-term effort to modernize the Union. With the adoption of the New Strength Unity Plan by the delegates to the 2000 SEIU International Convention, SEIU launched a program of restructuring and modernizing local unions across the country. Since 2000, SEIU has reorganized local union jurisdictions in many states, including California, Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Illinois and Washington.

The guiding principle behind this series of reorganizations has been the importance of uniting workers in the same industry in a single local union in the relevant geography in order to increase political strength, maximize bargaining power, and improve standards for SEIU members in each of the industries in which our members work. The reorganizations have led to the creation of larger, stronger local unions with the resources and capacity to improve members’ lives.

The current process of determining long-term care jurisdiction in California began in 2006 when a first set of hearings was held. At that time, the IEB approved some changes in SEIU’s long-term care structure in California, and recommended that the long-term care jurisdiction question be evaluated further in the future. That re-evaluation was the focus of the hearings held in May and July 2008.

Leonard Page was the outside hearing officer appointed by the IEB. Page is the former General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, appointed by President Clinton in 1999. Page heard and reviewed testimony given on May 6-7 and July 14-15, 2008 from each of the locals in California that have long-term care members: Local 521, UHW, and Local 6434. He also heard testimony from the Long-Term Care Division of SEIU Healthcare. After completing this review, Page recommended the creation of a new long-term care local union for California long-term care members, and the merger and consolidation of long-term care members from Local 521, Local 6434 and UHW into this new California long-term care local union. The SEIU Executive Committee recommended that the IEB conduct an advisory membership vote to assess member support for the option suggested by the hearing officer and for an additional option, advanced by UHW during the hearings, of a new healthcare local union.

The IEB will reach its decision on a structure for California long-term care members after the advisory vote on member preferences is completed. The recommendations being considered by the IEB do not involve workers in public healthcare facilities or other health systems workers outside of UHW.

With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare, and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers, not just corporations and CEOs, benefit from today’s global economy.


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