The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Tyler Prell, 202-730-7278 or 202-701-5796

NLRB Hearing Exposes Corporate Attacks on Workers' Rights


After the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held its first day of hearings about a proposed rule that would potentially remove frivolous litigation and delays in union elections, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

"In a year of unprecedented attacks on workers' rights, today's NLRB hearing showed that workers who are trying to improve their lives face opposition that is not isolated to states like Ohio and Wisconsin. At today's hearing, the NLRB heard from a number of brave workers who shared their stories about the intimidation, retaliation and unnecessary delays they experienced in their efforts to join together for a voice on the job.

"One of SEIU's newest members, Veronica Tench of Los Angeles, testified before the Board to share her story. Beginning more than a decade ago, Veronica and her coworkers faced fierce anti-union campaign. Her employer used illegal delaying tactics to prevent them from organizing, but Veronica and her coworkers were finally able to vote in a free and fair election to choose to join a union last month. But they were forced to wait 13 years to do so.

"Veronica's story shows that the system needs to change. The current NLRB election process gives employers too much control over the timing and process of a union vote. The Board's proposed rule change is a commonsense approach that would allow employees to make a free, informed and timely choice about joining a union without unnecessary delay and litigation. It also seeks to uphold rights that we hold dear in a free country - the right to vote."

After testifying at the hearing, Veronica Tench said:

"Now that we have a union we'll be able to make sure that experienced caregivers stay at our hospital and continue to provide for our families. But it shouldn't have taken more than a decade for us to be able to vote for our union, so I'd like to make sure future workers have a more reasonable and fair process available to them."

Veronica's story:

In early 1998, Veronica Tench, and other hospital workers at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles felt it was time that they had a voice on the job. St. Vincent's technical staff wanted to improve critical patient care issues, specifically the number of staff assigned to patient care units per shift, so they started organizing themselves to form a union.

For more than a decade Veronica and her co-workers faced a fierce anti-union campaign that had delayed their efforts. Today, St. Vincent is a different kind of employer and agreed to a fair and timely process for employees to hold an election. On June 24, 2011 - 13 years after they began organizing - 400 workers finally were able to vote to join SEIU-UHW.

With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy.