Blog WSH

Why is Decertification Necessary?

For years a small group of RN’s have worked hard to represent employees for grievances, represent employees for notice of intent to take disciplinary action hearings, attended contract negotiations, attended Executive Board meetings, and coordinated day to day processes which give credibility and give the appearance that the RN union was actually working to better work conditions for RN’s.  

RN union members that have done these duties for years, have done so without any form of compensation.  Our input to the RN union has been harsh.  Unfortunately members do not run the RN union as is required by the Bylaws.  Rather, organizers (paid employees of the RN union who are members of another union) perform the bidding of the District Officers and do not work with chapter membership or leadership.  Organizers have caused great discord for the WSH chapter.  One organizer organized a march against chapter leadership and RN members at a staffing committee and worked hard to pit member against member culminating in organizing a petition pitting member against member.  This organizer was following the orders of the district office. Organizers have continued to disrupt operations to the point that staffing committee could no longer be productive.  In fact provisions had to be put into the staffing committee charter to prevent organizer disruption.  Organizers were then tasked with a directive to remove the WSH chapter officers that were critical of the organizers and district officers.  They accomplished this using a petition that protested unopposed elections at WSH to invalidate an election using the Election Board.  The Election Board was chaired by organizers (not members in good standing as is required by Bylaws).  The Election Board has nothing to do with membership, it was appointed by and controlled by the District Officers rather than elected by membership at the District Delegate Assembly as is required by the Bylaws.  Without ANY form of hearing or consultation with the WSH chapter, the illegal “election board” rendered rulings eliminating the troublesome WSH chapter officers.  The “election board” actually rendered two rulings eliminating previous WSH chapter officers without any hearing or input from the WSH chapter.  The president of the RN union enforced the “election board” rulings in lieu of the District Hearing & Appeals Board (DHAB) that was elected by a District Delegate Assembly as required by the Bylaws.

Under RN union Bylaws, a District Hearing & Appeals Board is the internal watchdog of the union to prevent abuses of power.  It turns out that never in the history of the RN union did the union president ever allow a District Hearing & Appeals Board to be elected to two year terms by the District Delegate Assembly (by membership).  In fact membership does NOT run the RN union, nor has it ever.  A District Hearing & Appeals Board can only be put into place by the District Delegate Assembly as voted on by Delegate membership who are members in good standing.  A member in good standing cannot be a paid employee of the RN union.  Who pays for organizers?  Members do, through their union dues.  Our union dues pay for union organizer salaries.  Not one cent of our union dues goes back to members that represent nurses or to chapter union officers.  It is rare that the RN union ever spends a cent on any chapter.  Yet at almost all Executive Board meetings the RN union gives away thousands of dollars to political causes.  The RN union is a political action committee and not a true labor union.

A true labor union is the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE).  They have strong Bylaws and follow them completely.  They have checks and balances that prevent abuse of authority.  Because membership runs WFSE, their negotiators listen to membership.  This is why WFSE contracts are the gold standard.  WFSE maintains databases  of their grievances so that all members learn from the results of each outcome.  Dues go back to membership continually.  Shop stewards and union officers are compensated for their good work via refunding of their own union dues.  If you wish to truly see the difference between WFSE and the RN union look at the new language for probationary employees.  Whereas WFSE protects its employees at every stage, the RN union’s focus rests totally with politics.  The RN union has does not teach its Delegates the union Bylaws, the Bylaws are the most secret document within the RN union.  The RN union keeps no database of past grievances.  Because there is no District Hearing & Appeals Board, most grievances are dropped leaving the RN to have no representation or recourse in the District Officers decisions.   Whereas WFSE officers have strict oversight over all elections and provide hearings at every stage to assure a democratic union process…  The RN union District Officers cannot ever be opposed in any election due to the petition process that is in place, if a District Hearing & Appeals Board existed this would have changed decades ago.  WFSE cares about its employees and assures that dues come back to all of its employees through various means, while the RN union only cares about its employees union dues.   Membership runs WFSE while eternally elected District Officers (who are founders of the RN union) hire union organizers who run all committees and chapters.  

Can the RN union be fixed internally?  The answer is no.  When we filed to appeal the illegal Election Board rulings which were made without any hearing, the president of the RN union (the employer of the Election Board Chair) determined that the illegal Election Board had absolute power to overturn elections and imposed structures to a chapter which applied to no other chapter without ever consulting the chapter in question.  When an appeal was filed, the president of the union appointed some members to become the "District Hearing & Appeals Board” in direct violation of the Bylaws to enforce the presidents’ employee determination of election overturn.  When the issue was appealed to SEIU International… We came to find that they had apparently never created a hearings board themselves.  Not only was the RN union conducted outside of the Bylaws, so was the International union.  The RN union is not a true labor union, nor is the International…  They are political action committees.

In order to fix the RN union internally would require the following:

  1. Elections would require a revised petition process that would allow all interested members in good standing to run for any office (chapter or district) that they chose.  There is currently no way to run against a district officer because the challenger would be required to go to ALL hospitals covered by the RN union to petition a certain percentage of signatures in order to appear on the ballot.  
  2. A District Hearing & Appeals Boards would have to be elected by membership at the District Delegate Assembly to a two year term every two years to provide internal oversight of the union.  This has never happened in the history of the RN union.  Our actions have resulted in claims that such a board will be elected in February 2015.  
  3. The International Union would have to elect a Hearings Board that could legally enforce Bylaw adherence of the unions that were affiliated with it.  To my knowledge, this has never happened in the history of this international union.
  4. The RN union would have to elect Chapter Hearing & Appeals Boards, something that has never happened within the RN union since inception.  
  5. Election Boards must be elected at the District Delegate Assembly by membership (per Bylaw), and the Chair of the Election Board must not be a paid organizer (employee of the union).  The Election Boards’ last ruling determined that it was a legal board that that organizers were members in good standing even though they are employees of the union and the Election Board has never held any hearing in which members could provide input.  
  6. SEIU International would have to take over complete oversight of the RN union due to be blatant abuses of authority and corrupt actions taken by the District Officers.  
  7. The RN union would have to teach their Delegates the Bylaws, most currently have never been introduced to the Bylaws nor know anything of them.  The RN union does not even post its own Bylaws anywhere. 
  8. The RN union would need to hold in trust a percentage of the union dues for each Chapter, with each Chapter determining how these union dues can be best used for its membership.
  9. The RN union would need to allow Delegates and Officers to get a refund of their dues to compensate them for the work they do (similar to what WFSE does).
  10. Organizers should be like HR employees, they should NOT be part of union chain of command…  They should be resource persons only to membership.  Each Chapter should have hiring and firing authority over any organizer.
  11. The RN union needs to publish a Chapter to District Officer chain of command…  This does not exist at this time.

I do not believe that meeting the above eleven points is doable internally.  Therefore, decertification is the best process to follow.  Where we go from decertification is the decision DSHS RN’s will make after decertification.  

Let me know your thoughts or ideas.  Post your thoughts or ideas at our Facebook page.

Get a copy of the petition for “Showing of Interest” to decertify.

© Paul Vilja 2017