SANTA CLARITA, Calif.
There couldn’t have been anything better than this,"
said Leticia Ramirez, a nurses aide, after she and her co-workers at
Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital voted by a nearly four-to-one margin to
be represented by UE.
In a two-day election that took place in pouring rain unusual
for sunny southern California, Henry Mayo Hospital workers voted 288 to 77 to
join UE. The election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board on
Feb. 23 and 24.
The approximately 510 employees — licensed vocational
nursing staff, technicians in Radiology, Lab and Respiratory, clerks and
support staff — are roughly half the hospital’s total work force. They
sent a powerful message to their employer: they are tired of years of
declining benefits, severe understaffing and a five-year wage freeze.
‘BETTER JOBS, PATIENT CARE’
of Org. Bob Kingsley points out that with the win at Henry Mayo, UE has
now organized more than a thousand workers since the close of last
summer’s 64th National Convention.
"This was a vote for better jobs and better patient
care," said Judy Hice, a data coordinator who has worked at the
hospital for 16 years.
The new UE members expressed concerns about patient care,
understaffing, wages and raises, health insurance, retirement benefits,
continuing education and tuition reimbursement, job security, and respect for
years of service.
When workers began their organizing efforts nine months ago,
many were at their wits’ end about the intolerable working conditions and
pay. Now there is a renewed sense of hope and power.
"I never thought we could have gotten this far,"
said Leticia Ramirez, who has been at the hospital for 12 years. She delayed
planned and much-needed back surgery, continuing to work despite pain for more
than a month, to help organize her union and secure the lopsided majority in
last month’s election.
In a final push for the
union, Laura Lerma and Terry Bucknall lend a hand to co-worker Susie Fisher. A
licensed vocational nurse, Fisher was fresh out of surgery when wheeled to the
polling place. Many Henry Mayo workers went out of their way to make the
Many other hospital employees went the extra mile to
contribute their vote to the huge victory. Susie Fisher, a licensed
vocational nurse, was fresh out of surgery when she was wheeled to the polling
place by her coworkers. Edwin Quinones, a nurses aide, was off both
days of the vote and drove more than four hours, round trip, to cast his
ballot for the UE.
The UE organizing campaign began in June 1999; the union filed
a petition with the NLRB on Dec. 29.
The Henry Mayo victory is a product of a unique collaborative
effort between the UE and the California Nurses Association (CNA), an
independent union representing 30,000 registered nurses in the state of
California. The CNA won bargaining rights for the 250 RNs at Henry Mayo six
months ago. Staffing and pay concerns also fueled that union victory.
UE credits the nurses — both the CNA organization and the
Henry Mayo nurses on the job — with unwavering support throughout the union
The CNA is now in contract negotiations with Henry Mayo;
members of both unions look forward to continued collaboration and additional
strength in bargaining. "The unity of the employees throughout the
hospital will strengthen the position of both unions as we bargain for quality
care and quality jobs at Henry Mayo," said CNA Executive Director Rose
UE and the CNA have worked closely together as prominent
backers of the Labor Party. CNA’s DeMoro addressed UE’s 1996 National
Henry Mayo Workers were assisted in their victory by
International Representatives Terry Davis and Fernando Losada,
and Field Organizers Leah Fried, Jeremy Prose, Ray Riordan, Mary McGinn,
and Rachel Wells.
UE News - 03/00