by Heather Mayer
, DOTmed News Reporter | September 14, 2010
The battle between two California unions continues as Kaiser Permanente employees began voting
via mail-in ballot earlier this week on which union should represent them.
Some 44,000 employees will choose between the incumbent union, Service International Employees Union (SEIU) - United Healthcare Workers West, and the newly created National Union of Healthcare Workers. Results are expected to be posted in early October, officials said.
Last year, the national SEIU union ousted officials, including Sal Rosselli, who then created NUHW. A jury found the ousted officials inappropriately used union funds, but NUHW says the elected officials legally used those funds to protect members from SEIU attacks.
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The union election currently underway is the biggest in the private sector since 1941, when Ford Motor employees voted to unionize.
Late last month
, nine Kaiser Permanente workers filed a federal lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente for allegedly providing criminal financial support to SEIU for this election, according to NUHW. But Kaiser said the company remains neutral.
"The lawsuit appears to relate to the ongoing election dispute between NUHW and SEIU-UHW," Kaiser spokesman John Nelson told DOTmed News last month. "Kaiser Permanente is entirely neutral in this dispute between these two unions. We continue to respect both the terms of our labor agreements and the rights of our employees to choose whether they want to be represented by a union and which union will represent them."
SEIU expects to be the victorious union, spokesman Steve Trossman told DOTmed News last month. But an NUHW spokeswoman did not want to predict outcomes.