Union Battle in Fresno

May 27, 2009 8:06:25 PM PDT
Fresno has become the battleground for an intense labor struggle. Homecare workers will soon decide which union will represent them. It all started in January when leaders within the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, were removed from office.The breakaway group, NUHW, or National Union of Healthcare Workers, on Wednesday brought in a high-profile supporter.

United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta came to Fresno to pledge her support for NUHW. They braved the hot sun to turn up the heat on SEIU, the union they wish to break away from. Huerta told NUHW supporters, "You're going to be voting for your dignity, the respect of the organization and yes, for your voice."

SEIU-UHW is now running TV ads urging union members to stay put. NUHW broke off on its own after elected leaders were removed from office.

SEIU-UHW representative Nathan Selzer said, "Obviously nobody likes to be removed from office. It seems they're resorting to saying all sorts of things to make the case for why people should leave the strength of United Healthcare Workers West and join an organization that has no dues paying members."

But NUHW President Sal Rosselli said, "SEIU has all of our dues dollars. They're sending in an army to confuse people in addition to their commercials and all their mailings."

Next week ten-thousand Fresno area homecare workers will begin mailing in their ballots. Beatris Viramontes, a homecare worker from Sanger, said it's time for a change. She said "If you like the contract or not, you get to vote. With the other union you don't get to vote. It's what they decide."

But SEIU representatives believe NUHW's bid to break away will fall short. Selzer said "We're very confident we are going to win this election."

Homecare workers begin voting by mail next week. Ballots will be accepted until June 15th.

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