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California — Nurses are Proof ‘Employee Free Choice Act’ is Needed

A NEW VOICE | RNs Phi Bui, Milani Anasco and Anne Hyatt, case managers at Kaiser Permanente in Orange County, Calif., are all smiles after organizing for a voice on the job with UNAC/UHCP, an AFSCME affiliate.

California


A NEW VOICE | RNs Phi Bui, Milani Anasco and Anne Hyatt, case managers at Kaiser Permanente in Orange County, Calif., are all smiles after organizing for a voice on the job with UNAC/UHCP, an AFSCME affiliate.

Photo Credit: Lauren Lazarovici

 

Nearly 800 Kaiser Permanente nurses working at some 200 locations throughout Southern California used a process known as “majority sign-up” to join AFSCME affiliate United Nurses Associations of California (UNAC)/UHCP/NUHHCE. Their success offers more proof for why passage of the Employee Free Choice Act — legislation that would protect workers’ rights to form unions without employer intimidation — is critical.

The employees — including certified nurse midwives, case managers, discharge planners and nurse educators — joined 10,000 other Kaiser Permanente nurses who have become UNAC members since the 1970s.

Kaiser’s management agreed to remain neutral during the nurses’ campaign to organize through majority sign-up. Also known as “card check,” the procedure allowed the nurses to gain recognition of their union once a majority had signed cards indicating they wanted one. It was the same system employed during Kaiser organizing drives since 1997, and comes on the heels of passage of the Employee Free Choice Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, now pending in the Senate, would level the playing field between private-sector workers and their employers during efforts to build a union.

“I’m overjoyed,” says Frank Schubert, RN, who works in centralized outpatient utilization management. “The union will help us have a voice to be more effective patient advocates.”

“Now that 800 more nurses at Kaiser Permanente have joined UNAC/UHCP, the voices of health care professionals are even stronger and we can have an even bigger role in helping Kaiser Permanente be the best place to get care and to work,” adds Kathy J. Sackman, RN, UNAC/UHCP president and an AFSCME International vice president.

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