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NUHW expands presence at Keck-USC healthcare system

With USC reducing available overtime and subcontracting out work, 20 workers at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center voted overwhelmingly to increase their power as members of NUHW.

The newest NUHW members, who include maintenance workers, stationary engineers, HVAC mechanics and painters, defeated an escalating anti-union campaign from the university that only served to delay their vote to unionize. The workers began organizing shortly after the university assigned them to the Keck-USC healthcare system, which includes the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“When they switched us to Keck two years ago, they told us the work was going to remain in-house, but then they took away our overtime and started to bring subcontractors,” said Julian Torres, a general maintenance worker.

Often the workers found themselves having to fix mistakes made by the contractors, said Braulio Mendo, a painter.

Meanwhile, they were making less working for USC’s healthcare system than their counterparts working directly for the university.

Torres said that the unionization drive was their way of regaining “a voice” in their relationship with management and no longer feeling like they were being “pushed to the side.”

The Norris workers join more than 1,700 of their Keck-USC colleagues as NUHW members including hundreds of workers who have voted to join the union over the past few years.

“We’re the department that’s fought the hardest to get here, but we did it,” Torres said. “The biggest step has been taken, which is being part of the union.”

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