El Camino Hospital Employees Call for Unionization Revote
Some El Camino Hospital employees who do not want to join the newly created local union organized by Service Employees International Union are "wag[ing] a campaign" to hold a revote, the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reports. Last September, 45% of eligible voters approved the union, 28% opposed the union and the remainder did not vote. However, because the union received less than 50% of the vote, some hospital employees are calling for a revote. Currently, all eligible service employees must join the union. But some employees have called for the union to operate as an "open shop," which would give employees the option to become members. Under such an arrangement, non-union employees would receive the same wages and benefits as union members, but would not pay union dues. Union dues account for 1.2% of a member's gross wages. Materials management worker Ted Prairo said that he and other employees would prefer a flat fee, similar to what nurses pay to be part of their union. Supporters of the open-shop union submitted a petition to the hospital board last month, the Business Journal reports. But Stacy Parris, an SEIU organizer, said that the union would not favor an open shop because it fears losing membership. She said, "Open shop is a way to destroy unions over time. ... It would be normal for people to drop out if they can get something for free."
The revote debate has been a "major obstacle to finalizing the first contract between El Camino and the union," the Business Journal reports. The union and hospital have been negotiating since January, and issues such as health benefits and wages have not been resolved. This week, the hospital and union entered two days of negotiations with a mediator, but failed to reach an agreement. The hospital and union are set to resume negotiations with the mediator June 4. Union officials have told the hospital they plan to picket May 29 and 30 if a contract is not signed (May, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 5/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.