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NUHW-SEIU Face New Showdown at Kaiser

Cal Winslowbyline‚ Feb. 15‚ 2013

In April, 43,000 Kaiser Permanente workers in California will vote, again, to decide which union will represent them, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) or the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), the latter now allied with the California Nurses Association (CNA-NNU).

The issues in this contest are many. What is at stake is important. Very important. Let me say this right off – it is likely that this event, this election, will be as important as any for labor, in the coming year, indeed in the foreseeable future. What is at stake is in part about numbers, big numbers here and who gets them, also the shrinking numbers in US labor, as grim reports routinely remind us. But it is not just about “density” (the number of union members in a population or industry) that vastly exaggerated concept; we’ll return to this.

What is at stake here goes much farther than that. Rather, it is about what kind of unions we will have, what kind of unions workers will have, and it is the answer to this that will likely tell us what kind of future labor will have.