The American Federation of Teachers took their work over the border when workers at a hospital in Vancouver voted to join them.
Last week, 866 service and maintenance workers at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver voted to affiliate with the AFT. In an earlier Nov. 22 vote, a clear majority of workers wanted to unionize, but none of the two unions seeking to represent them (AFT Local 5017 and the Service Employees International Union) had a significant majority. The most recent vote was scheduled as a runoff between the two unions. AFT ended up winning over SEIU in a 319 to 110 vote.
The newly unionized group consists of certified nursing assistants, food service workers, laundry workers and others. PeaceHealth Southwest Caregivers United, a sub-local of AFT Local 5017 that the workers are now members of, is also known as Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals.
Service and maintenance workers voted 319-110 to affiliate with the AFT. The new unit will represent more than 900 workers. Earlier this year, PHSW tech workers affiliated with the AFT. The nurses at PSAW are members of the Washington State Nurses Association, another member of the AFT family.
“I’m so happy that we have a voice in AFT!” said Sandi Rogers, who works in patient team support, in a statement. “We can look to the future and help make our hospital a better place to work now that we have the tools, time and resources to ensure quality care at the hospital.”
“I’m thrilled to welcome the service and maintenance workers at PeaceHealth Southwest into the AFT family,” added AFT President Randi Weingarten in a statement. “The union is a vehicle for these workers to help their patients and themselves—to ensure the patients they serve receive the care they need, and to fight for the wages and fair treatment on the job that every worker at PeaceHealth deserves. The AFT continues to grow as a health care union and is committed, particularly in this new national environment, to fighting for dignity and respect for all health care workers and ensuring that patients are put before profits.”