Employees at the Mercy Health Partners Hackley Campus in Muskegon recently voted themselves out of the Service Employees International Union by a 65-9 margin. Three members voted for nonunion status.
The specific branch of the SEIU involved is Healthcare Michigan. The vote was taken last week. The employee group will now transition over to the National Union of Healthcare Workers.
The loss of the Hackley employees, coupled with the loss of the employees at the Luther Manor skilled nursing facility in Saginaw in a September election, means SEIU Healthcare Michigan is even more dependent on dues from a “forced unionization” of home healthcare workers. That forced unionization took place out of the view of public scrutiny under Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Meanwhile, the Hackley workers said they were glad to be rid of the SEIU.
“I'm thrilled,” said Jeff Heyse, staff CT scan technician. “It's one thing to be nonunion and have issues with your employer, but to be in a union with issues against your employer and against the union that's supposed to representing you . . . well, it feels like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders.
“SEIU brags about being an employer-friendly union; and in a lot of ways I agree with that idea,” Heyse continued. “I mean, we don't want to do things that would kill or hurt our employer. But when you've just become fodder for the union and they're willing to turn on you the minute they see a way to make a profit . . . it isn't representing you anymore.”
Heyse also said the union had long ago reached a point where it was refusing to respond to many of its members at Hackley.
“They wouldn't return email messages or calls,' Heyse said. “I had [union president] Marge Faville's phone number and I'd call and call again. You'd have to call day after day to finally get any kind of a response.”
“Now we're moving forward," said Hasan Zahdeh, a cardiovascular interventional technologist and an activist who had worked to breakaway from the SEIU.
Zahdeh claims the SEIU was behind his termination from the facility in early December. His grievance over the termination will now be handled by the new union.
Zac Altefogt, spokesperson for SEIU's Healthcare Michigan, did not respond to requests to comment on this article.