The IAM along with the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) released a joint statement today indicating both unions have signed a letter of intent concerning a potential affiliation of NUHW with the IAM.
The signing of the letter of intent, approved by the Executive Boards of both unions, initiates a process whereby representatives of each union will begin to work out the terms of a possible affiliation. Any final decision on affiliation will be subject to approval by the leadership of the IAM and a membership vote of NUHW. Immediately, IAM and NUHW will begin working together to organize the unorganized, and each union will provide mutual support in collective bargaining and in other areas.
Both NUHW and IAM put a high value on member democracy, fighting for and protecting workers’ contractual standards, and organizing the unorganized.
With 700,000 members in North America, the IAM, founded in 1888, is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, and is the leading union among aerospace and transportation workers. The IAM is one of a handful of international unions in which members have the right to directly elect their international union officers. The IAM has been at the forefront of protecting workers’ rights and has been actively organizing the unorganized, including winning a tough representation election at IKEA in Maryland, the first victory in the United States against the giant retailer.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers was created in January 2009. Since its founding, NUHW has become the fastest growing healthcare workers’ union in the country, representing more than 9,000 caregivers in California and Michigan. NUHW began when United Healthcare Workers West (UHW), a 150,000 member California-based local union of the Service Employees International Union, was seized by Andy Stern, the president of SEIU. Stern, with the support of current SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, commandeered the local union for its refusal to give him the unilateral right to appoint bargaining committees and to negotiate with employers without membership input or involvement, and for opposing the forced transfer of 65,000 nursing home and homecare workers from UHW into another, corruption-plagued SEIU local union without a vote of the affected workers. In 2012, NUHW will be competing with SEIU to represent 43,000 healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente in the largest union election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board since 1941.
“In the IAM, we believe we have found the partner that will enable healthcare workers to achieve their dreams of building a strong, democratic, and progressive healthcare workers’ union,” said Sal Rosselli, president of NUHW. “We look forward to working with the IAM to build a movement of healthcare workers, like IAM has done in aerospace, transportation and other industries.”
“NUHW and its leadership have a strong, national reputation for honesty, competence, integrity, and militant, democratic, progressive trade unionism,” said Gary Allen, Vice President of the IAM. “Their record of success in winning industry standard contracts and organizing the unorganized speaks volumes. For 124 years the IAM has fought hard to raise standards of living and bring forward the issues of working families in North America. The IAM shares the NUHW’s commitment to free, fair and democratic membership control of the collective bargaining process. By standing together, all of us are stronger.”