Two of U.S. labor’s biggest recent strikes against concessions were conducted by the California Nurses Association and the National Union of Healthcare Workers. Their target each time was Kaiser Permanente, the giant California health care chain that has made $6 billion in profits since 2009 but still wants job cuts and givebacks.
The California Nurses honored their sister union NUHW's picket lines at Kaiser Permanente when NUHW struck to win a contract with no concessions. Photo: National Union of Healthcare Workers.
Today CNA and NUHW took their collaboration further and announced NUHW’s formal affiliation with CNA. It seemed an obvious alliance, because, as CNA Co-president Deborah Burger noted at a press conference in Oakland, many of the union activists in the room have “been working together for decades” against common employers.
But officially joining forces took years and some detours to achieve—including, at one point, CNA’s abandonment of the newly formed NUHW in 2009, followed by the latter’s attempted hook-up with the Machinists, an AFL-CIO union with little connection to California health care.
The most immediate impact of today’s affiliation will be critical help from CNA in NUHW’s ongoing drive to oust the Service Employees (SEIU) as the representative of 43,000 service and technical workers at Kaiser Permanente. It is likely to culminate in a second National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)-run decertification election later this year.