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December 2010, Week 3

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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
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Wed, 15 Dec 2010 21:04:05 -0500
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NLRB Judge Finds Kaiser Permanente Guilty of Violating
the Law 
by Leighton Woodhouse, NUHW, Dec. 15, 2010 
http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=8754#more
(Ed note: The harsh tone of the Administrative Law
Judge's ruling against Kaiser should bolster NUHW's case
for overturning the recent Kaiser election won by SEIU)

LOS ANGELES - Yesterday, National Labor Relations Board
(NLRB) Judge William Schmidt announced that Kaiser
Permanente brazenly violated federal labor law by
withholding scheduled raises and tuition reimbursements
from workers who voted to leave the Service Employees
International Union (SEIU) and join the National Union
of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) earlier this year, and
ordered immediate remedial action.

In the plainest of rebukes, Judge Schmidt referred to
the "massive damage done" to workers' rights by Kaiser,
characterized the company's justification for its
actions as "lack(ing) merit" and "without legal
foundation," and called its cited legal precedents
"misplaced." Judge Schmidt ordered Kaiser to
"immediately restore and apply" the scheduled wage
increases plus interest, tuition reimbursement benefit,
and steward training benefit provided under the workers'
prior union contract.

Judge Schmidt's finding clearly demonstrates that the
central argument of SEIU's multimillion dollar campaign
to prevent 43,500 Kaiser workers from joining NUHW was
false.

In hundreds of thousands of mailers, leaflets and phone
calls this summer, SEIU told Kaiser workers that they
would lose their raises and benefits if they voted to
join NUHW, specifically citing as evidence Kaiser's
refusal to honor its obligations to Kaiser-employed NUHW
members stipulated in the predecessor union's contract.
It was precisely this conduct, trumpeted by SEIU in its
campaign against NUHW, that Judge Schmidt found to be
"so inherently destructive of the basic employee right
under Section 7 to freely choose a bargaining
representative."

Judge Schmidt's decision reaffirms what NUHW explained
to Kaiser workers in response to SEIU's false claims:
"It is settled law that when employees are represented
by a labor organization their employer may not make
unilateral changes in their terms and conditions of
employment, such as their wages." If allowed to stand as
law, Judge Schmidt argued, Kaiser's position "would
seriously impair, if not virtually eliminate as a
practical matter, the fundamental right of employees
under Section 7 to change their bargaining
representative."

Kaiser and SEIU shared a strong interest in abridging
this fundamental right of Kaiser workers seeking to join
NUHW, and Kaiser's decision to withhold raises and
benefits provided SEIU with its main argument for
workers to remain under its representation.

Judge Schmidt further admonished Kaiser for its reckless
abuse of the legal process, describing the company as
belonging to a class of "non-compliant respondents who
choose to appeal and appeal in order to avoid their duty
to bargain under the Act until, finally, support for the
employee representative is totally dissipated." 

Read the full decision here: http://tinyurl.com/24zd73c

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