Sharp Grossmont challenging vote to unionize more than 1,400 health care workers
San Diego's only East County hospital recently voted to unionize 1,458 health care workers — but Sharp Grossmont officials are objecting to the election result, pointing to earlier claims of alleged intimidation and threatening behavior from the union.
The vote to unionize nursing assistants, pharmacy technicians and other health care workers under SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) ended Feb. 3 and was 55% in favor of unionization, but those results are on hold while the objection process plays out.
"We just think it’s a silly and ridiculous attempt by Sharp to delay the inevitable," said Renée Saldaña, spokesperson for SEIU-UHW. "We’re just ready to move forward with all of this. We know the workers are fired up there and again they’re ready to get this election certified."
Before the vote to unionize ended, Sharp HealthCare officials filed a challenge with federal labor officials alleging intimidating and threatening organizing efforts on behalf of the union. A news release from Jan. 31st said SEIU-UHW organizers followed employees, "To their homes, visiting homes multiple times day and night, sneaking into employees’ backyards and gated communities and other disrespectful tactics."
Saldaña called those claims frivolous and "a desperate, last-minute attempt to influence the election and divert attention from the low wages and short-staffing," she said in a statement last week.
KPBS asked Sharp for a copy of their objection letter, but a Sharp spokesperson only said it relates to their earlier claim of intimidation.
Legal analyst Dan Eaton said it is not uncommon to see objections to unionization from the losing side. Eaton said the process could take months and could wind up in the courts.
"The stakes are very high in connection with unionization and that’s why these campaigns are so hard fought," Eaton said. "The losing side not uncommonly claims that the victory on the other side was won through coercive tactics and that’s why we have these administrative processes and ultimately the judiciary."
Eaton said with votes to unionize objections over intimidating tactics can come from either side and typically declarations from employees are used to try and prove claims.
A spokesperson from the National Labor Relations Board said the objections are being reviewed and a regional director will decide whether to dismiss them or initiate a hearing.