**Portland, OR (July 18, 2006)** – In a victory for employee free choice, a group of workers aided by the National Right to Work Foundation have forced Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49 officials to renounce their monopoly bargaining power over employees of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (a component of the national Kaiser Permanente health network) after union organizers, with the company‘s help, used coercive tactics to force unionization on the employees.
The settlement of the employees’ unfair labor practice charges states that Kaiser will immediately terminate its voluntary recognition of the union as monopoly bargaining agent. Additionally, both the union hierarchy and Kaiser must issue notices to employees alerting them of their rights – including the right to refrain from formal union membership – and informing workers that the company will not bargain with union officials unless the employees so choose through the less abusive National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) secret ballot election process.
Kaiser unlawfully granted recognition to the SEIU union in October 2005 based on the results of a “card check” scheme – where union organizers browbeat employees to sign cards that are then counted as “votes” for unionization – even though an agreement between the company and union specifically stated that recognition would only be granted after a secret-ballot election determined that a majority of workers support the union. Workers reported that union officials explicitly told them that signing the “cards” was not a vote for unionization, but instead was a request to hold a secret-ballot election and to receive more information.
After having the unwanted union forced upon her and her coworkers, Karen Mayhew, who works in the Patient Business Services Department at a local Kaiser office, contacted the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for free legal aid. In November, Mayhew filed charges at the NLRB for herself and roughly 65 similarly situated employees with legal assistance from Foundation attorneys.
Mayhew also filed a petition for decertification of the unwanted union within days of Kaiser’s granting SEIU officials monopoly bargaining power over the 65 affected workers. Now that union officials are stripped of their tainted monopoly bargaining status as part of the settlement, that petition to throw out the unwanted union is no longer necessary.
“Union officials tried to force unionization on these workers from the top down, like it or not,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Union officials’ illegal behavior shows that they do not respect the rights of the workers they sought to represent; it was all about the money and finding additional sources of forced union dues revenues.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.