Ineligible voters propel SEIU election win

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SEIU demonstrates expertise in rigging elections

"Yes" ballots led in Thursday's union vote at St. Anthony Community Hospital, but 11 challenged ballots might still sway the election.

The count was 121 to 118 in favor of unionizing certified nursing assistants and other workers, but pro-union workers challenged 11 additional ballots they said were cast by people not eligible to vote.

"As far as we're concerned, we are victorious," said Faith Pennick, spokeswoman for healthcare workers union SEIU 1199. "They won this vote in a very contentious situation where the hospital had a very vicious anti-union campaign, and they still stood firm and voted for the union. The National Labor Relations Board has to decide what happens with the ballots, but we feel this election should stand."

The National Labor Relations Board took the 11 ballots — still sealed and untallied — and will decide whether or not they should be counted. A decision will probably take about seven days, said hospital spokeswoman Ann Lombardi-Nathan.

About 300 certified nursing assistants and other workers have been trying to unionize for about a year.

The unionization effort was contentious by any standard. Accusations of intimidation tactics and threats were leveled first by pro-union workers, then by others who were against it.

The NLRB is investigating charges of discrimination and interference with union activities.

The discord has led to rifts among co-workers. Certified nursing assistant Mayra Valdez-Martino, who is against unionizing, was angered by assertions by pro-union workers that patient care was suffering because of short-staffing.

"That was an insult to me as a CNA," she said. "Patient care is first for us."

Certified nursing assistant Robin Matthews said the hospital had a unit secretary calling and offering rides Thursday night to workers who would vote against unionizing.

Lombardi-Nathan said she was unaware of any such effort.

"I have no idea what they're talking about," she said. "I don't know of any such situation, so I can't comment on that."

If the "yes" vote holds, the union will begin contract negotiations as soon as possible, Pennick said.

The hospital will wait for the final result before deciding whether to appeal, Lombardi-Nathan said.

But Matthews is confident the vote will stand.

"We won," she said. "We won fair and square."


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