SEIU and NUHW Goes Head-To-Head in Big Labor Death Match

For more than a year I’ve written off an on about the vicious fight between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and offshoot union the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). The NUHW left the SEIU in a huff several years ago when the SEIU implemented a hostile takeover of the California-based NUHW that it had been affiliated with.

This month that fight has fallen upon the workers of Kaiser Permanente in the Los Angeles Medical Center where a vote is soon to be taken by KP employees to decide which of the rival unions will represent them.

Starting this week the 43,000 KP workers will be making their choice known and the vying for votes by the two unions has been “hostile,” as NUHW member Edvin Hakopian said.

NUHW members feel that this could be a make or break vote for their fledgling union. If they win this vote and are awarded the ability to represent KP’s 43,000 workers it could make them a force to be reckoned with in California’s healthcare industry.

The fight is interesting because the fight between these two unions would not even exist if the SEIU had not been so arrogant in its earlier dealings with the NUHW (or rather its earlier incarnation as the UHW) when it was still a member organization of the SEIU.

This whole mess is a result of former President Andy Stern’s arrogant practice of hostile takeovers of smaller unions. Stern’s rule-from-the-top style cutting out the voice of the locals is what lies at the root of the original split.

Certainly neither union is the best representation of the workers, but for sure the SEIU is the worse of the two. Anything that puts a ding in the strength and influence of the SEIU is a good thing.

But what is noteworthy is that the SEIUs arrogant tactics are a tiny hint of what would happen on an ever larger scale should the SEIU get more power. This power is something that we all should work to mitigate.

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