Sharp hospital workers vote to unionize

Healthcare workers at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, Calif., have voted to join Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, according to hospital and union statements shared with Becker's.

The election, which occurred Feb. 1-3, covers 1,500 front-line workers at the facility, which is part of San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare. There were 577 votes against unionization and 720 votes in favor of it, hospital and union representatives said. That means 55 percent of voters supported joining SEIU-UHW. 

"This is a huge win for our patients and this community," Haba Serrano, who works in the hospital's emergency department, said in a Feb. 4 news release. "Workers here shouldn't be struggling to provide housing and other basic necessities for our loved ones. Now that we're union, we'll have a strong voice to ensure safe staffing levels, the best possible care for our patients, and good jobs at Sharp Grossmont so we can recruit and hold onto top-tier staff."

The National Labor Relations Board must still certify the election results. If certified, the results apply to licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, respiratory care practitioners, pharmacy technicians, imaging assistants, certified phlebotomy technicians, healthcare partners, surgical technologists, unit clerks and other workers.

"The result is not yet certified, and we understand from the NLRB that this process takes up to seven business days," Sharp Grossmont Hospital said in a statement. "We will maintain our commitment to provide extraordinary patient care, and we know our incredible employees will continue to deliver on our mission every day when caring for our patients and the communities we serve."

As of Feb. 4, one vote had been voided, Renée Saldaña, a spokesperson for SEIU-UHW told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The vote on whether to unionize took place as accusations have been made against the union and hospital.

Some hospital workers have accused hospital managers of spreading misinformation about unionization and placing undue pressure on staff to vote against joining SEIU-UHW, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. The hospital denies those assertions.

Additionally, Sharp accused union representatives of displaying "threatening behaviors at employees' homes," according to a news release cited by the newspaper. The union disputes the claims. 

Overall, SEIU-UHW represents about 100,000 healthcare workers in California.

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