THE NURSING HOME BATTLE:
Winter 2006 Volume 18, Number 4 Publication of SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
Nursing home workers put the pedal to the metal and refuse to take NO for an answer INSIDE: 2007 Calendar pull-out!
Hospitals: VHS gains industry standards; Tenet workers fight for fair contract Members Lives: “Our daughter went to the war front” UHW EXCLUSIVE Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Getting the House in order
UNITED FOR QUALITY HEALTH CARE Our Executive Board Sal Rosselli, President, Oakland Jorge Rodriguez, Executive Vice President, Los Angeles Joan Emslie, Secretary-Treasurer, San Jose
Vice Presidents Anthony Aidukas, Desert Regional Medical Ctr., Palm Springs Roberto Alvarez, Kaiser Bellflower Nicolasa Arevalo, IHSS Provider, San Francisco Juanita Barbarin, Retiree Chapter, Oakland Derrick Boutte, Alameda County Medical Ctr., Oakland William Brennan, Olympia Medical, Los Angeles Mildred Brown, IHSS Provider, Contra Costa County Pam Burton, Kaiser Sunset, Los Angeles Lynn Arthur Bussey, Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles Robin Blake, Kaiser Fresno Rosie Byers, Consortium, San Francisco Roy Chaffee, Kaiser Vallejo Yolanda Chavez, Kaiser Oakland Teresita Collado, Kaiser Sunset Rachel G. Coronado, HCA/Riverside Community Hospital, Los Angeles Mary Corson, Kaiser Panorama City Nancy Evans, Willow Pass Conv. Hospital, Concord Michael Fenison, Centinela Freeman Marilyn Freeman, Watts Health Foundation, Los Angeles Florine Furlow, IHSS Fresno Mary Ellen Garcia, Kaiser Hayward Angela Glasper, Kaiser Martinez Linda Gonzalez, HCA/Good Samaritan Hospital, San Jose Michelle Guzman, Kaiser San Francisco Robert Hardebeck, Garden Grove Hospital Robert Hernandez, Kaiser Baldwin Park Miguel Holguin, St. Bernandine, Highland Robyne Horn, Kaiser Santa Clara Donald Hoskins, St. Mary’s Hospital, Los Angeles Oletha Hunt, Laguna Honda Hospital, San Francisco Gary Jackson, Dominican Hospital Kim Jakab, Kaiser Sacramento Derrell Joseph, Kaiser South Bay Lover Joyce, Kaiser Walnut Creek Deborah Kirtman, Alta Bates/Summit Medical Ctr., Oakland Xiao Jiang Lai, IHSS, San Francisco Stanley Lyles, CHW Northridge Sharon Martinez, Mercy General Hospital Inez Moreno, Mercy Southwest Maya Morris, CHW St. Francis, San Francisco Shirley Nelson, Kaiser Redwood City Debbie Ortega, Kaiser Bellflower Raisa Polonskaya, IHSS, San Francisco Corey M. Puccinelli, Kaiser South Sacramento Ella Raiford, Matilda Brown Home, Oakland Eloise Reese-Burns, Cottonwood Health Care Ctr., Woodland Frances Anne Regacho (Stepp), Kaiser Stockton Michael Rivera, Tarzana Regional, Palmdale Tena Robinson, IHSS, Sacramento Brian Rollinson, Kaiser Santa Teresa Ranell Ross, Doctor’s Manteca Maria Samuel, Golden Gate Nursing Home, San Francisco Lynn St.Clair, Kaiser Santa Rosa Wanda Talton, Pacifica of the Valley, Lakeview Terrace Michael Torres, USC University Hospital Martha Vazquez, St. Joseph’s Medical Ctr., Stockton Sally Vetsch, CHW Mercy Medical Ctr., Redding Marie White, IHSS, Sonoma Lori Whyman, Kaiser Tustin-Santa Ana Kiana Williams, Kaiser West, Los Angeles LaTasha Winslow-Beavers, Kaiser Rancho Cordova Rebecca Worcester, Kaiser Sacramento Mickiela Yagen, IHSS, Yolo Helen York-Jones, California Pacific Medical Ctr., San Francisco
Administrative Vice Presidents John Borsos, Sacramento; Victoria Cavarlez, Los Angeles; Leon Chow, San Francisco; Will Clayton, Oakland; Ralph Cornejo, Oakland; Amado David, Los Angeles; Glenn Goldstein, Oakland; Mary Ruth Gross, San Francisco; Paul Kumar, Oakland; Barbara Lewis, Los Angeles; Dan Martin, Oakland; Pamela Martinez, Oakland; Rachel Rodriguez, Fresno; Margaret Segura, Los Angeles; Dana Simon, Oakland
SEIU United Healthcare Workers’ mission is to unite all healthcare workers to change their lives and to win universal access to quality healthcare for all children, women and men. Northern California Headquarters:
Southern California Headquarters:
Oakland 560 Thomas L. Berkley Way Oakland CA 94612 510-251-1250 / Toll-free: 800-585-4250 Fax: 510-763-2680
Los Angeles 5480 Ferguson Dr Los Angeles CA 90022 323-734-8399/Toll-Free: 877-734-8399 Fax: 323-721-3538
Local Offices Statewide: Bakersfield 1701 Westwind Dr. #228 Bakersfield CA 93301 661-324-2386 Fax: 661-324-2412
San Bernardino 1264 S. Waterman Ave #33 San Bernardino CA 92408 909-890-3580 Fax: 909-890-3566
Fresno 1279 N. Wishon Avenue Fresno CA 93728 Toll-free: 888-688-7250 Fax: 559-469-0520
San Diego 3737 Camino Del Rio S #207 San Diego CA 92108 619-285-3911 Fax:
Oxnard 2362 N. Oxnard Blvd. #108 Oxnard CA 93036 805-981-2245 Fax: 805-604-7646
San Francisco 1338 Mission Street San Francisco CA 94103 415-441-2500 Fax: 415-563-9914
Redding 1135 Pine Street, #15 Redding CA 96001 530-241-2815 Fax: 530-241-6204
San Jose 2995 Moorpark Way San Jose CA 95128 408-557-2835 Toll-free: 800-224-0250 Fax: 408-557-2844
Riverside 4336 Market St Riverside CA 92501 951-784-4698 Fax: 951-784-4699 Sacramento 1911 F Street Sacramento CA 95814 916-326-5850 Toll-free: 877-768-6466 Fax: 916-447-9405
Santa Rosa 1708 Corby Avenue Santa Rosa CA 95407 707-526-4825 Fax: 707-526-1851 Stockton 306 E. Main Street #305 Stockton CA 95202 209-944-8001 Fax: 209-944-8010
SEIU United Healthcare Workers – West
The magazine for SEIU UHW-WEST Members
Volume 18, Number 4. Copyright December 2006. All rights reserved. Unity is the official periodical publication of SEIU United Healthcare Workers–West, Change to Win Coalition, CLC. It is edited and produced at UHW’s Oakland office.
Unity Editor: Ernesto Mora Unity Designer: Jen Slusser Administrative Asst.: Michelle Ashe
Contributors: Nick Fynn, Tadzio Garcia, Vaishalee Raja
8 ON THE COVER NURSING HOME DIVISION: Taking the gloves off
4 PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE:
The greater the challenges, the sweeter our victories
5 2006 NOVEMBER ELECTION: 6 NANCY PELOSI:
The new Speaker of the House talks with UHW
10 HOSPITAL DIVISION:
System-wide pact for VHS workers; Up in arms at Tenet
Heart to Heart: Your fight is my fight
12 KAISER DIVISION: 13 MEMBERS LIVES:
Interview with 2 Kaiser activists
My daughter went to Iraq
14 HEALTHCARE REFORM:
Principles to advance in 2007-2008 Merry in San Dimas Park
15 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PICNIC:
W W W . S E I U - U H W. O R G
Working families lead congressional upheaval
16 CONTINUING EDUCATION:
The greater the challenges, the sweeter our victories
From the beginning we knew 2006 would be an eventful year. The year did not disappoint, and there’s much UHW members can take pride in. As 2006 drew to a close, things looked good on every front for our union. In the political arena, even if we fell short of defeating Arnold Schwarzenegger, UHW members and other American working families elected a Democratic Congress that will move forward on healthcare, the minimum wage, making it easier for workers to join unions, and the war in Iraq. As Californians, we are proud to have our friend, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. Speaker Pelosi has vowed to restore ethics to Congress. And our friends, Representatives George Miller, Peter Stark, and Barbara Lee – all of whom expressed gratitude to UHW members for their help in the election – will also be playing leadership roles in the nes Congress. Special mention needs to be made about our efforts to unseat Republican Richard Pombo, one of the most corrupt members of the House of Representatives. Our Convalescent Division has concluded contracts for nearly 100 nursing homes that improve working conditions and allow our members to enjoy the fruits of AB 1629, which passed thanks to our legislative action. Members with contract settlements at these facilities share a common expiration date and a single bargaining unit arrangement for all workers employed by the same company. In addition, the agreements provide improvements in health insurance, the SEIU pension plan, contributions to our industry-wide training and education fund, wage increases of $2-3 per hour. At its November Steward Council meeting, the division’s shop stewards adopted a 20-month plan to organize 50 non-alliance nursing homes before the end of 2008. This summer, together with SEIU Local 121, we were able to negotiate a retiree health insurance benefit for nearly 14,000 workers statewide with Catholic Healthcare West. That victory was part of mid-contract re-opener. Following the CHW victory, we won a tremendous settlement with the world's largest for-profit healthcare company, HCA. Again, in conjunction with Local 121, we won our first statewide master agreement at HCA's five California hospitals that includes wage increases exceeding 40% over the term of the contract, a real voice in staffing, along with strong job security protections and the right of unorganized workers to join our union without employer opposition. Finally, we won another master agreement, with Local 121, this time with the Valley Health Systems in Riverside County. Coming on the heels of the HCA settlement, the Valley agreement demonstrates to the industry our vision of setting standards throughout California. Our Homecare Division successfully hammered out contracts with Fresno, Sacramento, and San Joaquin Counties that provide substantial wage increases and improvements to In Home Supportive Services caregivers. None of this came without polit-
ical mobilization. In the end, UHW homecare workers got county authorities to set aside money for these improvements, making the counties eligible for matching federal and state funds that will inject substantial money into their local economies. In the words of an IHSS consumer, these improvements set a major change in the quality of life of those who get assistance and those who provide it. That the governor vetoed six bills that would have benefited IHSS providers and consumers alike has only strengthened our members' resolve to continue the struggle for better conditions. Kaiser workers are moving into the second year of the UHW contract that provided significant improvements and implemented some innovative ideas, such as “unit-based teams and contract specialists.” Currently, 20 stewards are working full time as “contract specialists” in the administration of the union contract to create an environment where members take charge of the union. Additionally, members in each department will develop "unitbased teams” where they will meet with management to improve their working environment and deal with the challenges that Kaiser will face in the next two years. Thanks to the efforts of our organizing staff and the Member Organizing Committee participants, thousands of workers have joined us in the struggle for better industry standards. Workers launched campaigns and won union elections at CHW’s French and Marian Hospitals, HCA’s West Hills professional unit, Antelope Valley, Pacifica, Sutter Solano, Community and Mission, Hemet Valley, Moreno Valley, Children’s Oakland, and Sierra HealthCare. In non-traditional fashion, however, and thanks to contract provisions negotiated with employers, we used card check certification to win representation for the Valley Health System service and clerical workers. We also won the right to represent workers at Kaiser’s medical practice offices in Ventura County. Our Organizing Department is looking to unionize 20,000 new members in 2007 and we need to continue the fight against those unscrupulous employers that try to intimidate workers who want to join the union, such as Saint Joseph’s Memorial employees in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. All in all, it’s safe to say we have many significant victories to celebrate on the second anniversary of our union. To continue to move ahead, we need to remain involved, and engage yet more members in the political process as well as in organizing campaigns and bargaining efforts. Each of us has a special talent to contribute to make our union stronger. In the New Year, we’ll continue to confront many challenges, both expected and unexpected. But UHW members have never faltered and through our combined efforts we seldom fail. Together, we will make 2007 a more successful year for UHW members and our families. Happy New Year to all.
2006 ELECTION WRAP-UP I ! VOTED
2006 November Election:
Working families lead congressional upheaval
On November 7, working families made history, toppling the entrenched leadership of both the House and the Senate, and electing new leaders to move the country forward on healthcare, Iraq, restoring ethics to Congress, and other key issues. After twelve years of Republican rule, Congress now has a Democratic majority and working families face new opportunities to move our issues forward, and hold employers and antiworker politicians accountable. UHW members worked hard to win key victories across California, volunteering countless hours of phone banking and neighborhood canvassing to get out the vote. UHW volunteers logged over 6,000 volunteer shifts, and nearly 14,000 UHW members and family members were identified as supporters of candidates endorsed by working families. In sum, UHW represented more than half of the 2006 SEIU California volunteer contingent. KEY ALLIES WIN THEIR RACES
Perhaps in one of the most significant historical developments, Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a close ally of UHW who personally helped striking UHW members to reach an industry standard agreement with Sutter in 2005, will become the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives in U.S. history. And even though Phil Angelides was unable to unseat Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, most of
LOCAL RACES: MORE VICTORIES
In Richmond, City Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, who supported UHW members at San Pablo’s Doctors Regional Center, defeated incumbent Irma Anderson. In Fresno, UHW and the Fresno Teachers Association led the way in electing a slate of worker-friendly educators to the Fresno Unified School District Board. There, worker forces put together a bipartisan group of pro-worker candidates—including Cal Johnson, Republican Valerie Davis, Tony Vang and Michelle Arax Asadoorian—that defeated the slate of pro-business and anti-worker candidates. This victory is crucial as we continue to build power for Fresno healthcare workers. In Los Angeles, UHW efforts focused on the labor-to-labor campaign of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, Strengthening Our Lives (SOL), and SEIU’s African-American voter projects. Lost-timers from Kaiser Orange County helped lead the effort to re-elect Richard Chavez, a union ally, to the Anaheim City Council. This race, along with the 34th Senate District race where Lou Correa won, made Orange County a major focus of the SOL program. And Pam Torliatt, a close UHW ally, won her race for mayor of Petaluma and shall continue to be a strong supporter of UHW’s North Bay organizing efforts.
Heralding a new era in political activism, members of at least 13 SEIU locals from across the country, including UHW, attended the first national SEIU Republican Activists Conference late last September in Washington, D.C. Seven UHW members were part of the two-day event where they pledged to build new alliances in their communities and work together with other union members. In the opening session, UHW participants heard SEIU President Andy Stern emphasize that unions shouldn’t focus strictly on party politics so much as on the issues that affect workers. Members participated in several workshops about lobbying before actually going to Capitol Hill to meet with congressional leaders. “It’s fantastic that our International has the foresight to include its Republican members and get them become politically active,” said Judy Keifer, a Fresno homecare provider and life-long Republican who attended the founding event. Challenging the traditional view that Republicans oppose unions, participants agreed that workers need to fight for wages, benefits and the policies that affect working families. The UHW contingent also included Ray Van Ocker, COPE chair at Kaiser Santa Theresa: Donna Hafer from the JFK Memorial Hospital (in Indio); Sandra Kober and Susan Reddell from Catholic Healthcare West; Nicole Hanson from Woodland Healthcare; and Phyllis Cunningham. PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING In the November 7 elections for the Fresno Unified School District Board, UHW played a crucial role in cobbling together a slate of bipartisan candidates who were in support of worker rights. The list – which included Republican Valerie Davis, and Democrats Cal Johnson, Tony Vang and Michelle Arax Asadoorian – defeated the slate of pro-business and anti-worker candidates orchestrated by Democrat Assemblyman Juan Arambula. “If we work together, we can hold elected officials accountable – irrespective of their party affiliation – to the people who put them in office,” Keifer said, adding that she’s ready to take on Governor Schwarzenegger any time he attempts to undermine the In Home Supportive Services and attack homecare workers, as he’s done in the past.
W W W . S E I U - U H W. O R G
SEIU REPUBLICAN ACTIVISTS
Voters send a message:
the other statewide candidates endorsed by UHW won their races. John Garamendi was elected lieutenant governor, UHWendorsed Debra Bowen became secretary of state after defeating the incumbent, while Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown was elected California attorney general, and Bill Lockyer was elected state treasurer. Most critically for our UHW homecare providers, John Chiang was elected state controller. UHW members volunteered in droves and help win a major upset in California’s 11th Congressional District, where Democrat Jerry McNerney defeated anti-worker Congressman Richard Pombo, who had been named one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress.
UHW EXCLUSIVE Speaker Nancy P “WITHIN THE FIRST 100 LEGISLATIVE HOURS, THE NEW CONGRESS WILL:
A long-time supporter of our union, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave an interview for our members. It’s the first time a Speaker of the House of Representative grants this honor to a union magazine. 1. The number of Americans without health insurance is growing, while millions with a plan pay more for less. What steps will the new Congress take to address this crisis?
Making health care affordable for all Americans is a top priority for the new Congress. Central to this is addressing the needs of nearly 47 million uninsured Americans, strengthening the Medicare system through a fair and meaningful prescription drug benefit, and giving patients the clout to challenge the decisions of health insurers. Democrats will begin by reducing the cost of prescription drugs, requiring Medicare to leverage its bargaining power and negotiate lower prices with drug companies. In the first 100 hours, we will
_____ON HEALTH PROGRAMS_____ “Congress will also reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2007. By working with the Bush Administration we hope to make significant progress toward lowering the number of uninsured children. We need to invest in better management of chronic disease, through prevention and health technology. About 20 percent of the Medicare population with five or more chronic diseases spends almost 70 percent of the dollars. We need to assist the elderly in managing those diseases more effectively and also preventing those conditions in the first place.”
• Drain the swamp – by breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation and commit to pay-as-you-go budgeting, no new deficit spending; • Make America more secure – by implementing the independent 9/11 Commission recommendations; • Give Americans a raise – by increasing the minimum wage; • Make college more affordable – by cutting the interest rate in half on federally subsidized student loans; • Make health care more affordable – by negotiating for lower prescription drug prices; • End subsidies for Big Oil; and • Give hope to families with devastating diseases – by allowing stem cell research.” remove the prohibition against government negotiation and mandate that the Secretary of Health and Human Services must negotiate for lower prices with the drug industry. Democrats will ensure access to prescription drugs. We will stop drug plans from increasing co-payments and creating burdensome administrative hurdles during the year, when beneficiaries are not allowed to change plans. 2. What will the new Congress do to ensure that all workers can retire with dignity?
Democrats will guarantee a dignified retirement, and we will begin by fighting any attempt to privatize Social Security. Privatization entails steep benefit cuts and billions of dollars in increased debt. Democrats are committed to a bipartisan approach toward strengthening Social Security and ensuring that seniors receive the guaranteed benefits they have earned. Over a year ago, Democrats presented AmeriSave, a plan for retirement security that embodies our commitment to middle-class families by providing them with the tools they need to achieve retirement security. AmeriSave will help middle-class families build retirement security by expanding opportunities to save, and ensuring pension fairness, guaranteeing workers receive the benefits that they have been promised after a lifetime of hard work. Our plan will expand and improve existing investment accounts, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, so that American families can benefit from compound interest while retaining Social Security’s guaranteed benefit, creating a comprehensive retirement strategy.
elosi: Getting the House in order
4. What are the prospects that the new Congress approves a comprehensive immigration reform package?
When I spoke to the President shortly after the election, we agreed on the need to move forward on bipartisan and comprehensive immigration reform. The new Congress can expect to see a bipartisan and bicameral effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the upcoming year. It will require a lot of hard work, and we are ready to work hard on this issue with you. 5. Will Congress make sure to include strong labor protections and other fair trade principles in future trade agreements?
Our current trade model under the Bush Administration is flawed. Trade should help raise living standards both in the U.S. and abroad. To ensure fair trade, we must include enforceable workers’ rights in the text of these agreements. Otherwise, we will accelerate a “race to the bottom” where the most vulnerable are harmed and left behind. Democrats believe that we achieve the right type of balance so that free and fair trade benefits everyone, not just the privileged few. 6. Will Congress recommit our nation to strong environmental protections?
The Democratic-led Congress will push back vigorously against the Administration’s assault on environmental laws, regulations, and international agreements. Americans believe strongly in environmental protection and reject the contention that there is a trade-off between the economy and the environment. The President will be stymied in his ability to push anti-environmental legislation through Congress. It is likely that he will continue to press the limits of his regulatory powers to weaken environmental protection; Democrats will be able to use the majority’s oversight powers to shine the light of day on these nefarious actions. 7. What's the significance - to you personally, to women generally, and to the entire country - of your having become the first woman Speaker of the House in U.S. history?
When my colleagues elected me Speaker, we didn’t just break through a glass ceiling; it was a marble ceiling. It was more than 200 years of history, with an established pecking order – and I cut in line. I believe the floodgates of women in power have now opened – and I am so proud we will soon have 90 women serving in Congress. I think it sends a message to all women that if this can happen, anything can happen. Increasing the number of women in Congress is critical because women bring something unique to the table. Any discussion of the
8. What advice do you have for working women with family obligations who want to become more active or take leadership roles in their union or in politics?
I’m a mother of five and a grandmother of six and being a mother is my highest priority. I didn’t run for Congress until my youngest child was almost ready to graduate from high school. But much has changed since I first ran in 1987, and equality continues to move closer within our grasp. While being a woman in our society has its special challenges, fuller participation of women can only mean we are more effective in meeting the needs of all Americans. When people ask me for one piece of advice on whether or not they should run for office, I tell them, ‘Just run, just do it.’ It is critical that our perspective is part of the decision-making process and I encourage more mothers to take on leadership roles in their community.
_____ON UNIONS_____ “Unions such as SEIU won great gains for women, workers of color, and farm workers. They instituted new rules to secure pensions, and new laws to govern workplace safety and health. They ushered in a new era in which public employees gained the right to organize, and then joined unions in record numbers. It is an achievement I know well, because my father, Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., was the first Baltimore Mayor to institute collective bargaining for city employees, and the first mayor to appoint a city commissioner of labor. These victories didn’t just benefit union workers, they benefited all workers. Labor worked to put America in the lead. Millions of working men and women face that challenge every day, whether they work at Wal-Mart or at thousands of other anti-union workplaces across this country. Those workers share a commitment to our most basic labor principle: the right to join a labor union. In fact, 57 million American workers say they would join a union if they had the chance. But too often, they face harassment, intimidation, and coercion when they try to exercise that right. That is why Democrats are fighting to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, introduced by George Miller in the House and Ted Kennedy in the Senate. This bill is a promise – it says that when a majority of workers say they want a union, they will get a union.”
W W W . S E I U - U H W. O R G
The new Congress will be holding hearings to determine what needs to be done to reform our long-term care system. Right now, Medicaid has become the nation’s primary long-term care system. We need to improve that program and we need to begin by building the case for legislation through hearings.
most serious issues facing our country is enhanced by diversity at the table – diversity of gender, diversity of ethnicity, and diversity of opinion. But we are making progress - after every election Congress looks more and more like America.
3. Will the new Congress address the challenge of funding and reforming our nation’s long-term care system?
NURSING HOME DIVISION
Taking off the gloves A
Nursing home workers put pedal to the metal
s nursing home caregivers march from one victory to the next, they've come to realize that employers are bargaining hard at the table to hold on to as much of the $1 billion in AB 1629 funds that UHW and SEIU 434B members fought so hard to secure for the industry last spring. UHW members have begun to settle contracts in convalescent homes at neck-breaking pace. Since last reported in Unity, more than 50 nursing skill facilities employing 2,500 workers have signed on to the industry standard established last March with the California Nursing Home Alliance, a statewide coalition of convalescent home owners.
But employers have been dragging their feet, forcing members to fight for the recent contract victories. "When they refuse to share their profits and the funds gained through our work to pass AB 1629, they give us no choice but to take a strike vote and serve them notice," said CNA Mary Mundy, shop steward at the Thekkek-owned La Mariposa nursing home in Fairfield. And that is precisely what her coworkers and members at Family Senior Care did. Brazen employers v. sharing employees
Some companies, like Family Senior Care, were brazen enough as to demand the right to change any part of the health plan without previously noti-
NURSING HOME DIVISION
"We need to make sure that we get the money we got for the hospitals," Mundy said the day Unity found her at her facility's break room, where she asked her coworkers to sign up for COPE contributions during the contract ratification vote. Because AB 1629 sunsets in 2008, UHW members understand that they have to continue to apply political pressure, Convalescent Division Director John Vellardita explained, noting that COPE sign-ups at recent contract ratification meetings in nursing homes has surpassed 50 percent. "Make no mistake," Vellardita said. "Our members understand that this is all about politics. They know we had to mobilize to get AB 1629 passed, and there has been ongoing political mobilization to see the fruits of AB 1629 – both in Sacramento and at every negotiating table. And they know they'll have to mobilize again." But while negotiations are still pending at other worksites, some companies have outright refused to improve working conditions. "Companies can afford this contract and they'll be able to afford even better ones," said Nursing Home Assistant Director Charlie Ridgell, the chief UHW negotiator. Eventually, nursing home workers need to match the same income and working conditions of acute care hospitals, Ridgell said.
If past events are any indication, employers are only buying themselves some time before their inevitable retreat. Opposite page: CNA Mary Mundy of Thekkek-owned La Mariposa nursing home. This page, clockwise from the top: Maclovio Hernández, laundry worker at Family Senior Care’s Skyline facility in San Jose; workers from Windsor’s facility in Concord demanding a new contract; Flor Sarpolio, Sklyline’s shop steward and member of the negotiating committee.
W W W . S E I U - U H W. O R G
It's all about politics - and about readiness
fying the union. "They called it flexible insurance," said Flor Sarpolio, a negotiating committee member and shop steward at the company's Skyline facility in San Jose. "That was a slap in the face," said Miguel Pérez, shop steward at Family's Almaden facility, also in San Jose. But caregivers would have none of that. "Health plan costs are outrageous," Perez pointed out, "and our members don't want to pay more money out of their pockets." In the end, workers prevailed and Thekkek, Sava, Family Senior Care, and Pleasant Care agreed to the 80/20 minimum split of the health plan established in the multi-employer negotiations last spring, and in some cases better. The new contracts also provide across-the-board increases of $2.25-$3.00 an hour over the next two years, while strengthening the roles of shop stewards and barring employers from subcontracting bargaining unit jobs. To their credit, Family Senior Care workers raised the stakes and, although they would like to see an increase in their pension contributions, they asked the company to establish a pension for its Pine Ridge and Creek Side employees, who had none. "They are our brothers and sisters and we can't leave them behind," Sarpolio insisted. "If we stick together, next time we go to Sacramento to get more Medi-Cal funds our contingent will be bigger," she said.
Workers at Tenet and former Tenet hospitals unite to win
System-wide agreement for VHS workers ore than 700 UHW caregivers from Hemet Valley Medical Center and Moreno Valley Community Hospital reached a systemwide, four-year agreement with the Valley Health System (VHS), which provides real gains for healthcare workers and the patients they care for. Caregivers at the two hospitals had to fight hard for key contract improvements. The settlement was made possible after UHW opposed a hospital district bond measure in September after the district spurned the union’s offer to work cooperatively. “We think this contract sets a foundation for caregivers to work with the hospital to provide high quality and recruit and retain experienced staff,” stated UHW Vice President John Borsos, the lead union negotiator. “With this foundation, the hospital district now has a new openness to hear our concerns and is willing to work with us in order to pass a bond that will ensure the long-term survival of our facilities.” The new contract, which expires on June 20, 2010, stipulates across-the-board increases of 5.5 percent for the first year (retroactive to July 1, 2006), 5.7 percent in the second year; and 4 percent in the third and fourth years. In addition, VHS will adopt a wage scale in 2008 that will provide significant increases to employees in all classifications. In total, workers stand to gain close to a 35 percent increase in wages over the next four years. The contract also provides fully employerpaid insurance and other improvements, including a clause regarding job security, a defined-
benefit pension plan, a patient care committee, and access to training for employees. Looking out for patients
“We will now be able to advocate for our patients and make real improvements that will ensure the continued delivery of quality care,” said James Fellows, an emergency room technician at Moreno Valley Community Hospital. “With our new patient care committee we can work directly with management to find creative and innovative solutions to patient care concerns. We look forward to working with management to provide the best possible care for patients.” Helen Onstott, a member at Hemet Valley Medical Center, added: “Our contract preserves living-wage jobs in our community – wages that keep up with the cost of living.” Update: clerical, service workers join UHW
Nearly 100 clerical and service workers at VHS recently joined UHW thanks to the card check procedure guaranteed in the newly signed contract. A state mediator certified the union victory. This brings the total UHW membership at VHS facilities to almost 800. “We won a great contract together with caregivers in the Moreno Valley Community Hospital,” said John Quinoy, a central supply aide at Hemet Valley. This is the second contract for caregivers at Moreno Valley, and the first for those at Hemet Valley, who joined UHW earlier this year. Four hundred new UHW members at VHS’s Menifee Valley Medical Center will also be covered by the new agreement.
Members of UHW and 121RN from El Monte Community Hospital and Garfield Medical Center meet to prepare for Tenet negotiations.
lmost 10,000 members of UHW and SEIU 121RN are stepping up the pressure on Tenet and former Tenet hospitals in order to reach an agreement that improves conditions substantially. “We are united in our fight to improve standards in the healthcare industry by proposing a master contract for 14 Tenet hospitals,” says Julio Estrada of USC University Hospital in Los Angeles. The Tenet contracts run out at the end of 2006. In preparation for negotiations, thousands of caregivers filled out contract surveys that showed that wage improvements and better retirement and health benefits are a high priority for them. “This will not only help the hospital to retain staff but also to recruit qualified personnel for our patients”, said Roxanne Ingram of Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton. The surveys also showed that workers want better contract language regarding job security, Labor/Management and patient care committees, safer working conditions and employer contributions to the UHW Joint Employer Education Fund, which would offer employees opportunities for career advancement.
Reaching out to communities
Caregivers from former Tenet Community and Mission Hospitals in Huntington Park held a candlelight vigil on December 12 to voice their concerns about safe staffing levels, loss of jobs and alleged shortages of critical supplies at their hospitals. Community leaders and elected officials joined the event. “Our communities deserve better,” said Gilbert Zamora, a radiologist at Mission Hospital. “They need hospitals that ensure safer and higher standards of patient care.”
HOMECARE DIVISION UHW member Mickiela Yagen with IHSS consumer Betty Lee during a rally in Sacramento. Bottom: Betty Lee displays a photo of her parents, a coal mining family in Pennsylvania’s Appalachia.
they have vowed to join every rally at the Capitol to improve IHSS workers conditions. Strong union supporter
“She gave me back my life,” said Betty Lee about UHW member and In Home Supportive Services provider Mickiela Yagen, the day both women went to Sacramento to protest Gov. Schwarzenegger’s veto of several bills that directly impact the pay and training of IHSS workers. A 76-year-old cancer survivor, Lee used to volunteer helping the elderly and the disabled and knows first-hand the value of IHSS providers. Today, even though she cannot look after herself, she refuses to be institutionalized in a convalescent home. More importantly, she refuses to give up the fight for what she thinks is decent, right and fair. “It’s important for me to feel independent, and Mickiela provides me with both the care I need and the freedom of being in my own home.” At the Sacramento event, both women stood in front of the crowd of IHSS consumers, advocates and supporters congregated at the steps of the state Capitol to denounce the governor’s policies against California’s long-term care system. Thrust into the battlefield
A member of the UHW Executive Board and a Sacramento native, Yagen was a retail manager until her parents fell seriously ill 14 years ago and she quit her job to look after them. She soon realized she liked the commitment of
caring for others. A mother of three grown children and a grandmother of eight, today Yagen cares for three consumers to make ends meet. “I devote more hours to this job than I am paid for,” she said.“But if I have to take Betty to the doctor, I’ll do it, pay or no pay. She needs me, end of story.” “I never asked anything from the government,” Lee said. But cancer pushed her to the brink five years ago. As Betty’s cancer worsened”, Mickiela appeared in my life at a crucial time.” Both women know the governor has little interest on keeping the IHSS operational and
AGREEMENT REACHED UHW and the Sacramento IHSS Public Authority (PA) have reached an agreement for a new contract that expires November 30, 2009. Effective January 1, 2007, wages will increase from $10.00 an hour to $10.40 an Hour, with a wage re-opener for fiscal year 2008-2009 if the State increases its matching funds. It was also agreed that, for those under the Kaiser medical plan, the PA will pick up the full $76 per month increase effective this January, while caregivers co-payment stays at $15 throughout the year. The county will pay for increases to the Kaiser plan by increasing its healthcare contribution to 70 cents per hour, up from 60 cents. If the amount set aside doesn't cover increases in the Kaiser plan for 2008, UHW will re-open negotiations over the health plan. "Considering that, Governor Schwarzenegger and the county played hardball with IHSS workers, we got a more-than-fair contract," said Mary Williams, a UHW shop steward who was member of the negotiating committee.
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‘Your fight is my fight’
Even though the IHSS program saves millions of dollars in long-term care lost to the state, Schwarzenegger has tried three times to reduce the wages and benefits of IHSS workers since the recall election in 2003. “If it were up to him,” said Yagen, “he would do away with IHSS.” The governor cares little about working people, the elderly or people with disabilities, Lee agreed. Her commitment to the fight for better conditions for workers is not a recent development in her life, however. “I was a child when the United Mine Workers of America was expanding across the country,” said Lee, reaching for a photograph of her mom and dad, a Pennsylvania coal mining family in the 1930s, when the miners won the right to form unions and bargain collectively with employers. “People need unions to fight injustice in the workplace,” Lee said, holding her parents’ photo with pride. “That’s why I join Mickiela in her struggles.”
KAISER DIVISION ina McClendon, a chief steward at Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center, is a ward clerk transcriber whose job keying information about each patient’s chart is critical for the hospital. Just as critical for her, however, is to know that UHW members have a chance to be politically active during the elections. A mother of a 19-year-old college student, Zina, who has been at the same Hospital for 22 years, only started doing political work in the last three years. “It moves me the way the union is committed to campaigning for candidates that are labor friendly. Make that working families friendly,” she corrects herself, using a broader term and noting that, so far as she’s concerned, there is no difference between a Republican worker and a Democratic worker, or any worker, for that matter, with or without party affiliation. Whether she goes door-to-door—as she did during the 2005 Special Election—or she gets on the phone after work, political canvassing gives her a chance to listen to other workers, to help them hash out their concerns. “The people I talk to,” she notes, “are workers like myself, impressed that unions are truly con“We all work and live next to one another, we are all working cerned about what they think regarding the elecpeople and we all have the same needs.” tions, the country,” she adds. “For me, campaigning is part of making our voices heard, in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C.”
Workers show political muscle his election was a big eye opener,” said Torill Harge, reflecting on what the Democratic Nov. 7 electoral victory means for the country. An administrative assistant in pediatrics at Kaiser San Francisco, Harge was part of a vast contingent of UHW volunteers who phone-banked and canvassed neighborhoods across California to make people aware of the issues affecting them and the nation in the election. In her 37 years as a UHW member, it was the first time Harge participated in the union’s political efforts. She’s sure it won’t be the last. Torill’s strongest motivation to get involved is the nation’s healthcare crisis. “I believe healthcare is a right,” said the Oslo, Norway native who became a citizen 22 years ago. “You realize people are thirsty for information,” she said about her experiences in phone banking. “It helps them make an educated vote.” Precinct walking afforded her the possibility of seeing how other workers—including members of unions—live and how much needs to be done so that all can enjoy the best this country has to offer. “Now I know from experience—you can “I think the government should be concerned and offer solutions to make a difference when you’re an activist,” she said, pointing out that San Francisco make healthcare more affordable and more accessible to all Americans.” Representative Nancy Pelosi is in line to be the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives. “Together, with members of UHW and other unions, I feel I was part of this historic achievement.”
MEMBERS SPEAK FAMILY GROWS AND GETS STRONGER
Left: Marine Lieutenant Boegel on a military transport. Below: with her parents Monica and A.J. Boegel. Leslie was recently promoted to captain.
“Our daughter went to the war front”
CHALLENGING THE BONDS THAT TIE
There are painful moments every family lives. In the Boegels’ case it happened when
Lt. Boegel was sent to Kuwait in June 2003. As part of the First Marine Logistic Group, her duty was to supply ‘beans, bullets and band-aids,” in Marine parlance for supplies. “She’s the only one who’s been so far away from home,” said sister Angelina, an RN at Stanford’s Children’s Hospital whose 2003 wedding Leslie was resigned to miss.“I like to think we’re a close family,” she said. As luck would have it, Leslie made it to her wedding. WHEN ACTIONS BEAR FRUIT
“After my first tour I realized my platoon needed essentials,” Leslie said. She asked her family to send boxes of goodies for the men and women in combat. “Things difficult to obtain in Iraq but that we could share: toothpaste, shampoo, sanitizers, chewing gum, Pringles, sunscreen, even gossip magazines!” “I realized our ‘extended’ family had become much larger and we needed to think about everybody in her platoon,” Monica said about her new responsibilities. The Boegels reached out to neighbors and hospital coworkers. Leslie’s platoon started to get loads of boxes every Friday. “One of my trucks hit an explosive device,” Leslie recounts. “Nobody was seriously hurt.” They then found out that the sunscreen helped heal the shrapnel scratches one of her men got. “We know that it is difficult for every family with a loved one serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. As Leslie’s parents, we chose to
give her platoon the idea that they were no strangers to us, and were a part of our extended family.” In her third, and final, tour, Leslie was away in Iraq’s Anbar province during Thanksgiving and Christmas. “It hit us very hard,” Monica says, holding back tears. But again, the Boegels’ coworkers and neighbors came through and more boxes arrived. “My responsibility toward my platoon is to keep morale high, because, at the end of the day, we still have a mission to do.” This Thanksgiving the Boegels were counting their blessings that Leslie had survived unscathed and that the family bonds remain as strong as ever.
NOTE: As of this writing, we’ve learned that Leslie was promoted to Marine Corps Captain.
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Sherman 125 years ago as he pushed his weary Union army across Georgia to victory over the south in the civil war. War sows chaos and tears lives and homes asunder, noted Sherman. Fortunately for the human spirit, it also forces people to create bonds where none existed before, and strengthen those that were already strong. Leslie Boegel, 28, is the daughter of former UHW Executive Board member Monica Boegel. A first lieutenant at the time she graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis in 2002, Leslie has completed three tours of duty in Iraq since the outbreak of war in 2003. “I always wanted to serve the country,” she said.“It was Leslie’s decision to join the military,” Monica Boegel said about her daughter. “We supported her, as we have done with all our children. Becoming a Marine is not easy and I’m proud of her.” Monica is a respiratory therapist at Washington Hospital in Fremont where she’s worked for 16 years. In addition to her former role on the UHW Executive Board, she was also an activist doing a fair amount of union work, phone banking and precinct walking until her health forced her to step down after the 2005 Special Election.
“War is hell,” said General
Healthcare Reform Principles to advance in 2007
At our 2006 Leadership Conference, UHW leaders unanimously agreed to make a campaign for universal access to healthcare our top priority for 2007-08. To achieve that goal, UHW and the SEIU State Council are putting into place the building blocks for an aggressive campaign by conducting opinion research to understand voters’ attitudes about healthcare and different reform proposals; by building a coalition for universal access with the state Labor Federation, other unions, consumer groups and community allies; and by coordinating health reform efforts with other healthcare industry partners, like Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Healthcare West and other progressive employers. The 2007-08 healthcare campaign will mobilize grassroots activities in order to expose the problems that people face with their healthcare throughout California. Through community coalition building, union member mobilization, constituent education in key legislative districts and online activism, we will build support for solutions to our healthcare problems. These solutions must enable all Californians to have affordable, quality healthcare that they can rely on to keep them healthy and that will provide the care they need when they are sick. It is clear that in 2007 the Legislature will consider a number of different health reform pro-
posals: Assembly Speaker Nuñez and other Assembly Democrats have already introduced several vehicles for reform, Senate President Pro Tem Perata has put forward his reform plan, and Senator Kuehl will likely reintroduce her bill to create a single-payer system. Governor Schwarzenegger will announce his proposals for changing California’s healthcare system in his State of the State speech on January 9th. UHW will work with legislators, members and our allies to win passage of legislation in 2007 that achieves our goal of universal access. If the Governor and the Legislature fail to agree on real reform, then we will prepare to put a universal access initiative before the voters in 2008. Guaranteeing access to quality, affordable healthcare is essential if California is to have a thriving economy and democracy in the 21st Century, and now it is time for our members and our union to make that goal a reality.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ANNUAL PICNIC
Merry in San Dimas Park
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Parents had a chance to play too. Pairing up with their kids and friends, teams competed against one another, disappearing under a tower of colorful tubes, or marching in lockstep only to trip over, or playing with water (sweet, cool water), dashing across the field to beat their opponents. They were seriously trying to win but found themselves laughing so hard they had no choice but to be merry as the sun began its decline. And while elsewhere in the U.S. it was already the fall, in San Dimas the sky was clear and the sun shone until the last family took note that it was time to get back in the car for the ride back home. And dream of next yearâ€™s picnic. Some people have all the luck.
The long Southern California summer was a blessing for the thousands of UHW members and families who attended the late October picnic in the San Dimas Regional Park. There were activities, games and food for everyone. The littler ones got a chance to try some pony rides for the first time ever. The tough part came when their time was up and they had to give up their pony. (Oh yeah, they did think it was theirs to take home!) Older kids, those nearing their teens, got a chance to not only play in the intense heat of the day, but also to become acquainted with a colorful selection of reptiles. Like their parents when they are in negotiations with employers, they showed respect but little fear for the critters. Some boys and girls had no qualms about wearing the crawlers like scarves around their necks. Yet some of the same kids were later terrified when they tried the Ferris Wheel. Go figure.
2007 Continuing Education Seminars The UHW Education Department offers free seminars to members who are in need of training, and to those who must complete accredited training to keep their professional license, registration or certification. The department suggests that you check with your accrediting agency to make sure they will recognize your class. Thanks to recent collective bargain-
ing victories that have improved contract language regarding educational training, registration may go up significantly from previous years. Make sure to register on time on the Education hotline: 1-866-336-8108.
Left: “The UHW seminars helped me advance my career goals,” says UHW member Stella Richardson. Below: Members recently took Basic Spanish for Healthcare Workers in the Oakland office.
CORE STEWARD TRAINING (CST) Geared for new shop stewards, this two-part training will sharpen stewards’ ability to represent members. PART I: Participants will discuss the goals and strategies of unions, become familiar with their responsibilities, and learn skills to recruit members that could be involved in union activities and organize them around issues that are relevant to their working environment. PART II: Participants will discuss the duties and rights of stewards, learn about understanding a contract, recognizing and investigating a grievance, having a meeting with management, and building support for the union.
More information at www.seiu-uhw.org: - Online calendar will now list UHW meetings, social events, classes and more - All Education classes can now be registered for online - Look for a monthly e-newsletter to launch early 2007
560 Thomas L. Berkley Way Oakland, CA 94612
NONPROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE PAID UNITED HEALTHCARE WORKERS