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CNA's Union-Busting in Ohio-An Open Letter


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by LindaKirby LindaKirby (New) New

from SamanthRN

"How were the CHP nurses supposed to be prepared to defend against union-busting by another union? Who could ever have imagined such a tactic?"

How could SEIU not imagine it, when they have made a career of it - as they did most dispicably in CNA's recent successful organizing in Reno. The difference is that when they do it it doesn't work, because nurses know better. And because CNA has done the actual organizing to build support.

This is in response to the first post by Linda Kirby

The fact of the matter is, the election was called because SEIU had no support form the rank & file, except maybe the 15 who signed your letter.

There is no evidence that only 15 employees supported the union in this case.

There is evidence that zero employees supported the CNA/NNOC, since they did not have even the one signed union card that is required to get on the ballot.

The employees who put their name on this letter should be honored, not ridiculed. They have already been stripped of their chance to have a union, now they are smeared as stooges for seiu. Very inappropriate in my opinion.

What is the number/percentage of employees who have to put themselves out as seiu supporters there without the protection of a union contract before the cna/nnoc admits that what happened here was union busting and apologizes for its actions? Do nurses have to be willing to strike to prove that they want the cna/nnoc to leave them alone? Who gave the cna the right to try to bust this up in the name of nurses who did not ask for their interference?

And I say again: if there was real support, the fact that a handful of people showed up and passed out some flyers - despite physical intimidation by SEIU with management support - would have made no difference. Any deal that won't stand the light of day is not a good deal.

Think of things that hide in the dark and scurry away when light is shined upon them: rats, cockroaches, worms, critters like that. What was it about having quesitons asked and opposition expressed that made the election impossible? And how was CNA's intervention in this worse than SEIU's intervention in Reno? In Reno, SEIU's attempted intervention made no difference in the outcome, since CNA had real support and won a resounding victory.

It sounds to me like CNA has a beef with SEIU. This is not about the history of these two unions in Reno or in California. What I have seen in thread after thread on www.allnurses.com on this issue is nurses who actually work at the CHP hospitals devastated that the CNA showed up univited and poisoned the well so that these elections had to be cancelled. I have been moved by the voices of these courageous nurses, and saddened by the negativity and often contradictory justifications for union busting put forth by CNA supporters. I cannot believe that CNA just showed up with a couple of volunteers and "passed out a couple of fliers" that "raised legitimate questions." Here's why: the CNA supporters offering justification for their actions in Ohio are brimming with anti-SEIU hatred and vitriol -- it literally drips from their posts. I would bet that they did everything they could think of to bring tension and confusion into those CHP hospitals, and that they used every resource at their disposal to do so. Also, the sadness that comes from the CHP nurses seems genuine. It seems like the sadness of nurses who knew that they were going to win and had that taken from them by other nurses and staff of a supposed nurses organization.

You bet CNA has a beef with SEIU - and with any organization that engages in their kind of dirty backroom dealing to treat nurses like commodities to be bought and sold for short term advantage. And once more I ask what you can't seem to answer: what was it about a little info and some flyers that made it impossible to hold the election?

Answer: Because the election was a fundamentally illegitimate process that wouldn't stand up to the light of day.


Specializes in Emergency room. Has 36 years experience.

The union elections I've been involved in have been 'yes' or 'no'. It's my belief that having more than one union to choose from would be detrimental to the election process---In my experience, the vote for a union or not was close enough without having to choose between unions at the same time. I'd think more employers would win in that scenario. And, I sure wouldn't want to be working for one of those unions if I were an organizer.

CNA and the NNOC's timing in this whole escapade was not an accident. They did not intend to organize these nurses (and, ultimately, ignore the other 5,000 CHP employees). Their actions were intended to derail the election. Period. They weren't passing out cards or educating nurses. The timing was to prevent the elections, which they did. Their actions were deplorable and indefensible.

Seems to me that intervening before the election (before the travesty occurs) was the correct procedure and in fact the only option--and in the nick of time!

Getting on the ballot wasn't an option since the employer filed for the elections with not one single employee's union card showing interest in SEIU. Unlike in a normal union election, in this case because the employer filed for an election, there was no process for other unions to intervene. Incidentally, if the election had gone through, a small minority could have voted in SEIU. It was in SEIU's interest to keep the turn-out as low as possible. Getting an election to get out of SEIU, on the other hand, would have required 30% of all RNs signing cards.

Waiting wasn't an option, since the NLRB agreed to run the elections in less than a week's time.

Standing back and watching RNs get swept into a union not of their own choosing and without having the information necessary to make an informed decision was not something that we'd let happen.

Being in a union is about having a say in your own work-life. It's about RNs having a vehicle to collectively stand up for their patients and their practice. It's about self-determination.

This election was about an employer and SEIU working together to quickly impose representation by a union that routinely disregards the voices of RNs and patients, choosing instead to defend the employer's bottom line. Not on our watch.

Since this whole thing was announced only 8 or 10 days before the election and the nurses were told by management that they were forbidden to talk about it with each other, obviously the first priority was to stop this illegitimate process. Then the organizing can start to help the nurses join a real union. And once again I ask:

What exactly was it about a few fliers and a few public questions that made it impossible to hold the election?

Most union elections are held after weeks-long campaigns where everybody gets more information than they care to hear. Why did this one have to be rushed through with no discussion and no chance to even think clearly or get information?

The obvious reason for the timing of the election was that CNA had started organizing in Ohio and working toward a safe staffing bill in Ohio - the hospital's worst nightmare. I feel quite certain that SEIU went to the hospitals and said "Give us your nurses and we'll protect you from CNA/NNOC."

An interesting little side note: Until a few months ago, the UAN (United American Nurses - an amalgam of state nurses associations and the collective bargaining arm of the ANA) was the largest nurses union in the country. Then SEIU made a deal with the leadership to take it over and guess what happened - most of the state assns left the UAN and it is now a tiny rump of its former self. Left to avoid being taken over by SEIU. Those state leaders understand what that would mean for them and for the profession.

My heart goes out to the Ohio RNs. But they must learn to do this right the first time. Read labor history; even recent labor history is engaging these days. SEIU left the AFL-CIO to pursue their agenda of "change to win". Say what? Change the rules of democracy to win members?

Oh, while you're in a reading mode, look up the Employees Fair Choice Act, think about it, and hopefully support it. We must get beyond these civil wars.

RN Power Ohio

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele, Hem/Onc, BMT. Has 15 years experience.


We did so much educating in these cities! NNOC spoke to hundreds if not thousands of employees (not just nurses) who had so many questions and concerns about this election. We spoke with them about the nature of the filing of this election- one that nearly no one had heard of until the letter.

We met with nurses who were anti-union and nurses who were feeling against a wall- "We want a union, many of us want a professional union- but I guess we get to choose between SEIU or nothing- something is wrong"

Another nurse in tears- what will this mean for us if we say "yes"? I called the hotline and got evasive answers! This is what I am supposed to use to make my decision?"

A painter buttonholed me thinking I was SEIU- what kind of deal did you make to let this happen?? He said! I explained that I was with NNOC and that we represent nurses but that the "deal" is bad for all workers. I told him to call the NNOC hotline and we would put him in touch with a union that would defend his rights and not make deals with the employer.

Another, a janitor came to my defense when he saw clearly I was being attacked (physically and verbally) by the SEIU "thugs"- he said " why are your flyers all over my hospital, why did my boss tell me to vote you in- get away from that lady and leave us alone- we know what you are up to! We don't want any company union!"

There are hundreds of other examples...SEIU did not have the majority support, they did not even have the support of the minority! The only support that was proven was the support of CHP!

Thousands of nurses around the country sent letters to the council of bishops- over 4,000 names collected by NYSNA and CNA/NNOC!

You seem to feel that it is ok to have a company union or no union. And while I agree that these workers need a union as much as or more than anyone (the conditions in these hospitals were horrid!) having an unfair, rushed election that sets a bad precedent for the entire labor movement is not the way to go about it!

I stand with conviction that NNOC did the right thing by exposing this election. I encourage the employees of CHP to organize! I also encourage them to choose an organization that will fight for them and what is right for their community. NOT an organization that is willing to make concessions, circumvent the law and help to promote the will of the corporation!

The educational process will continue as we follow up on the many, many calls and emails of employees of CHP. Hopefully, they will learn why this was wrong and hopefully they will have the strength to unite.

You are part of a CHP/SEIU bargaining unit in Lorain. Your unit has VERY strong leadership. Your unit was formed PRIOR to the recent antics of SEIU. Your bargaining unit was formed with the support of a strong organizational base. This was not the case in the CHP hospitals subject to this election.


We did so much educating in these cities! NNOC spoke to hundreds if not thousands of employees (not just nurses) who had so many questions and concerns about this election. We spoke with them about the nature of the filing of this election- one that nearly no one had heard of until the letter.

Guess you did a little more than "hand out a few fliers." Wonder how many of your other claims are trustworthy?:nono:

My understanding of the election process in this case is that neither the seiu or chp was campaigning at all inside the hospitals, only employees could debate the union and organize either for or against. (Don't understand how that process is unfair -- I would love it for my hospital.)

To me, "educating thousands of nurses" and meeting and instructing those who were against the seiu or any union seems absolutely outrageous under these rules. How are the pro-seiu nurses supposed to compete with paid staff who can spend every hour of the day campaigning, and who have presumably lots of resources including propaganda at their disposal?

I anticipate a few of you will respond with "those aren't really the rules" so I'm including a newspaper article that came out on the subject. A neutral source, unlike some of the posters who are so virulently anti-SEIU.

Cincinnati Enquirer

To unionize or not


Last Updated: 12:48 pm | Monday, March 3, 2008

Employees at the five Mercy Health Partners hospitals in Greater

Cincinnati will vote March 14 on whether to unionize.

The employees include nurses, technical workers, maintenance staff and

clerical workers, totaling about 5,000 people. They will vote by ballot

and both Mercy and the Service Employees International Union have

agreed not to try to influence the employees.

Managers will not even answer questions about the election other than

confirming the time and date of the voting, and employees will get

written information and phone numbers to call for more information.


"These ground rules are designed to avoid the tension typically

associated with organizing campaigns and ensure that you can make the decision

without pressure from either Mercy or SEIU representatives," a letter

mailed to employees Friday said.

The SEIU has criticized Mercy for years but it has been nearly a decade

since the last vote on unionizing the employees there. In 2006

hospital workers in Cincinnati and around the state filed a class-action

lawsuit claiming the company "systematically shortchanged" employees of

hourly wages.

The Mercy hospitals are in Fairfield, Anderson Township, Mount Airy,

Westwood and Batavia. The union vote does not affect employees at Mercy

Health Partners nursing homes or retirement facilities.

Different units of Mercy employees, such as nurses or clerical staff,

could reach different decisions.

With its administrative offices in Blue Ash, Mercy Health Partners is

owned by downtown-based Catholic Healthcare Partners. Several other CHP

units around Ohio also have scheduled union votes for later this month.

RN Power Ohio

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele, Hem/Onc, BMT. Has 15 years experience.

The ground rules were not followed. There were numerous reports of the hospital campaigning for the employees to vote for SEIU!

RN Power Ohio

Specializes in Med/Surg/Tele, Hem/Onc, BMT. Has 15 years experience.

Why not source an authoratative web site as opposed to one some one just created to bash CNA out of spite?


Specializes in Emergency room. Has 36 years experience.

RN Power-

Thanks for your reply-

I do, however, take issue with your statement that I 'seem to feel it's ok to have a company union or no union.' That's a total distortion --but fits nicely into your response. I am totally a union advocate--please don't mistake that.

I am a union RN working at a CHP hospital in OH. I have first-hand knowledge of union campaigns. Over 10 years ago, we tried to get ONA to help us organize. They provided minimal advice and they actually didn't show up for a very public meeting we held at the library when our organizing efforts were in their infancy. We were devastated.

Someone called SEIU. I have no idea who, but they came in and taught us to organize ourselves. It took almost two years campaigning, then another two years to reach a contract. During that time, CHP utilized every anti-union tactic available. They were found guilty of almost 100 ULP's. It was a long, stressful, emotional campaign. CHP does NOT want to deal with unions--their past clearly demonstrates that. So, to intimate that SEIU is a 'hand-picked company union' is ludicrous.

The methods used to set up the cancelled elections at the CHP hospitals are board sanctioned and were the result of YEARS of SEIU campaigning and research. As an RN member of SEIU and an employee of CHP, I want to see all of CHP organized under SEIU. It will benefit all of us--and, know that my years as a member of SEIU and my work with the union are part of the ground work that helped set up this process. It's not lost on us that NNOC/CNA's union-busting activities have disrupted that process and have damaged the work that we all have done--a legal and legitimate union organizing effort. CNA/NNOC represent only the RN's---they don't organize the other hospital workers. We would be divided---and we all know we're stronger when united.

A week or two of 'educating in those cities' is totally trumped by all the SEIU work it took to get to those elections. It's my perception that CNA/NNOC saw a fruit ripe for the picking and jumped in. They have exhibited the same negative behaviours they've accused SEIU of exhibiting.

Instead of being on the road to improve their working conditions and the services they provide to their patients, 8,000 CHP employees' lives are in limbo because they still don't have that all-important voice at the table. It boggles the mind that a group (CNA/NNOC) calling itself a union can be so destructive toward another union's organizing efforts.

If the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) becomes the law, an employer will recognize a union without an election IF the majority of employees sign a petition.

This is the way unionization happened originally. Notice that proof of majority with signatures still will be required. The Ohio scenario would not have happened under EFCA.

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