10/24/08

SEIU organizers abandon bargaining unit

More SEIU stories: hereMore decert stories: here

Jumbo union shifts focus away from workers, to election politics and legislated, pro-union subsidies

Service Employees International Union has walked away from representing 142 employees at Canton United Helpers Nursing Home because of a lack of support. "It's really painful because the workers are the lowest paid with the worst benefits in the north country, said Kathy M. Tucker, union local vice president. "This is not a decision we made lightly."

Mrs. Tucker said a strong group of anti-union workers filed a petition for decertification with the National Labor Relations Board at every contract renewal. "We organized this place by a very slim majority in 2001," Mrs. Tucker said. "It's not historically been a very strong shop."

The union negotiated three-year contract agreements with management. With the latest contract set to end in December, another decertification petition was filed with the NLRB.

"They tried this three years ago and we won by a slim margin," Mrs. Tucker said.

This time, the union decided not to wait for the election and told the NLRB it would no longer represent the workers.

Cynthia Cota, Canton, who helped organize the decertification petition, couldn't be reached for comment. In 2002, she wrote a letter to the Times stating union workers got the same increase as other non-unionized United Helpers employees and that policies already in effect were put in a contract.

Mrs. Tucker said the union at the nursing home was an open shop so no one had to be a member.

"These folks weren't paying dues," she said. "They were just fundamentally anti-union."

Nursing home Administrator Todd R. Amo had little comment.

"This is between the employees and the union," he said.

(watertowndailytimes.com)

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