New SEIU union could spur organizing trouble: attorney

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Nursing home providers could see an increase in union activity as a result of the formation of SEIU Healthcare, a new union within the Service Employees International Union.

"The fact [that] there is going to be a strategic focus on a single industry, I think, is something to be reckoned with," said John E. Lyncheski, a well-respected labor attorney and long-term care veteran.
Dennis Rivera, longtime leader of the New York-based 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, will leave his post to chair the union, the SEIU disclosed at the end of January. The SEIU is the largest union of healthcare employees in the United States, with 1 million healthcare members, including about 160,000 nursing home workers.
Rivera, who has served as president of 1199 SEIU for 18 years, has a strong history in New York and is politically connected, said Lyncheski, a director at Cohen & Grigsby, which has offices in Pittsburgh, Bonita Springs, FL, and Naples, FL.
"Dennis is somewhat of an ideologue, but a practical ideologue, and he also brings his political connections to the mix, and I think all of those things are going to add up to trouble," Lyncheski said. "Trouble for employers, including long-term care employers."
Nursing homes should take actions to make themselves less vulnerable to unions, such as training supervisory staff and assessing weaknesses, he said.
The SEIU, which also represents janitors, childcare workers and public service employees, has grown in recent years.