It has taken almost a year, but Tessie Costales says she and her fellow nurses are thrilled that they were finally able to vote for a new collective bargaining representative.
"We want a democratic union where there is member involvement in determining what is safe and good for our patients, and what is safe and good for our members," said Costales, a registered nurse at Kaiser Permanente's Los Angeles Medical Center.
The votes of Costales
and hundreds of other nurses at the Kaiser facility are scheduled to be counted this week - the latest development in a monumental intra-union struggle for the hearts and minds of California healthcare workers.
The clash has caused deep dismay in labor circles nationwide, divided union and Democratic Party loyalists and overwhelmed federal regulators who normally oversee union-management conflicts.
supports a breakaway group that is threatening the dominance of the giant Service Employees International Union, which represents some 150,000 hospital, home-care and nursing-home employees statewide.
The board directed that a vote be held this month to determine who has the right to represent some 2,300 Kaiser healthcare workers, mostly in Southern California, including Costales