Jury Sides With SEIU in Lawsuit Against Rival Breakaway Union
On Friday, a U.S. District Court jury in San Francisco awarded $1.5 million in damages to Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West in a civil lawsuit that accused leaders of a breakaway union of illegally undermining SEIU-UHW, the San Francisco Business Times reports (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 4/9).
The jury ordered National Union of Healthcare Workers to pay $724,000 and ordered several of its leaders -- including NUHW president Sal Rosselli -- to pay $30,000 to $74,000 each. SEIU-UHW originally sought $25 million in the case (Greenhouse, New York Times, 4/9).
In January 2009, SEIU took over the local affiliate of United Healthcare Workers-West and removed Rosselli as its president. After the takeover, Rosselli and other former UHW leaders helped form NUHW as a rival union (California Healthline, 1/25).
Since the formation of the new group, NUHW has mounted aggressive campaigns to oust SEIU-UHW as the union representing health care workers at various hospitals and medical facilities throughout California (McDonnell, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 4/9).
Response to Verdict
SEIU-UHW officials said Friday's verdict indicates that Rosselli and other former UHW officials are "liable for their scheme to sabotage the union and use the resources of SEIU-UHW members to start their own rival organization."
NUHW countered that the court threw out most of SEIU-UHW's claims and that the jury's award of $1.5 million was substantially less than the $25 million SEIU-UHW was seeking. NUHW also noted that its 12 defendants had been cleared of all charges.
NUHW said its lawyers will ask the judge to set aside the jury's verdict. If the judge does not fulfill NUHW's request, the union said it will ask the Court of Appeals to review the case (San Francisco Business Times, 4/9).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.