September 3, 2008: A UHW-CHW contract that expired in May of 2008 is still being bargained in September...

Bargaining, 9/3/08: Still no contract. Are we asking too much? Is CHW too broke to pay employees a fair wage?

Looking at a CHW proposed wage scale for Mercy Foundation Clinic, I see that the hourly wage for someone who does exactly what I do at Mercy General is $5.00/hour less than what I make. I don't think a contract correcting this disparity is asking too much!

I see that CHW made a net income of $891 million in fiscal year 2007-- that doesn't sound broke to me!

So, why can't CHW reach a contract agreement with UHW-w? Is there some other element in play?


The Devil shows his hand.... As it turns out, there is another element in play. While the UHW-w member-elected bargaining team is trying hard to bargain a contract with CHW, SEIU President Andy Stern is working hard to undermine UHW's efforts. SEIU informed CHW of its intent to place UHW-w in trusteeship, which means, in effect, telling CHW that they might as well stall and almost certainly get a better deal with SEIU as the bargaining agent. (NOTE: SEIU is notorious for Employer-friendly contracts in exchange for the unimpeded right to organize. Result: Employer gets labor peace, SEIU gets dues, the employee/members pay dues and get crumbs).

In an effort to intimidate our union, SEIU informed UHW-w of its intent to send "personal representatives" to "attend any meeting of the local union." On September 3, SEIU sent two monitors (Thomas DeBruin & Joe Buckley, in blue shirts, far left) to the bargaining session in Sacramento.

The UHW-w bargaining team erupted in outrage when the SEIU monitors appeared.


  Despite our training as health care workers that we should always make visitors feel welcome, bargaining team members expressed their true feelings to DeBruin & Buckley. "We don't want you here!" was one of the milder statements.

  "Let's vote to kick them out!" A vote was taken to expel the two SEIU monitors which passed overwhelmingly. Union democracy in action.

  Success! UHW-w bargaining team members encouraged a speedy exit...


Should you feel sorry for these two? The UHW-w bargaining team (that members elected!) has spent almost a year trying to reach a contract settlement with CHW, which these two (at the direction of SEIU President Andy Stern) are attempting to undermine.

If Andy Stern and SEIU are successful in putting UHW-w in trusteeship, there won't be any more UHW-w member bargaining teams and we will lose the ability to elect our own leaders. We will lose our union as we know it.

Thousands of activists worked for decades to build UHW-w into a union which educates and empowers workers. It is regrettable that these empowerment skills must now be used to defend against SEIU.

  Back to the business of bargaining a contract.

  CHW in the room. CHW proposals were regressive and unacceptable.


The response to a regressive and unacceptable proposal after all other options have been tried is a strike. Employees at 34 UHW-w represented CHW hospitals state-wide will be taking a strike vote during the week of September 8th.

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