How is a union campaign conducted?
Several providers at Whittier decided to approach a union, in this case SEIU, for help in organizing a union campaign, and they agreed to give us their support. Once two or more people at a workplace start planning to unionize the campaign becomes official, and the rights of participants are thereafter protected under the rules of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This includes protection from firing, retaliation, and punishment by management. The union agrees to provide whatever legal resources are necessary to address any violations of the NLRB rules.
Which employees are included?
The organizers and the union declare a grouping of workers who will be included in the union (the “bargaining unit”), taking into account various strategic factors and natural groupings of the workplace, in our case “professional” workers. Professional workers are those who hold advanced degrees of one kind or another. Which exact employees fall within this group is based on previous NLRB precedents, not necessarily logic. For instance, RNs are included but LPNs aren’t. The union at Whittier will include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants (of which there are currently none), all types of licensed behavioral therapists, dentists, dental hygienists, opticians, podiatrists, RNs, and dieticians.
Both part-time and full-time employees are included, but not per-diem employees or employees paid by other institutions (such as consultants or nurse midwives who receive their salaries from other institutions). Managers are excluded and, by the way, are not protected under NLRB rules prohibiting retaliation by an employer. A manager is defined as anyone who “has authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline employees, or responsibility to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action.” MDs at Whittier who peer review the work of NPs, as required by Whittier, do not fall under the NLRB definition of “management”.
Card signing and petitioning for election
Although only 30% of members need to sign cards to meet the threshold set by the NLRB, SEIU itself requires a higher threshold, in the range of 60-70% of members, in order for it to be confident that a particular campaign will be successful.