SEE BELOW FOR UPDATE
Editor: SEIU – the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest public-employee unions in the country, as well as one of the fastest-growing unions – is experiencing internal tumult that is so severe that it is bubbling over into the public. Much of it is centered around Andy Stern, union president – pictured above. Here are two recent posts from CounterPunch:
Who Rules SEIU ?
by Steve Early
“SEIU has evolved into a dictatorship in which Andy Stern
and others have consolidated power, decision-making
authority, and resources among a few.”
–Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU’s
United Healthcare Workers-West, in
The San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 3, 2008
Today – Thursday, January 8 – a group of 70 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials will join a conference call, set up in Washington, D.C., to decide the fate of 150,000 members of United Healthcare Workers-West, SEIU’s third-largest affiliate.
Among the actions the SEIU International Executive Board (IEB) may take is transferring 65,000 long-term care workers in California, against their will, from UHW into a new statewide entity with officers appointed by SEIU President Andy Stern. Either on this call or during a meeting Jan. 20., Stern’s board may also approve a headquarters take-over of UHW’s remaining 85,000 members. This would be accomplished via a Stern-imposed trusteeship that would replace all UHW elected leaders and further obliterate their local, one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic in SEIU.
SEIU spokesmen are downplaying the impact of either course of action.
They say it’s just an “internal matter,” a question of changing “local union jurisdiction,” after a long deliberative process, resulting in “democratic” decisions. Stern points to a recent “advisory vote” with an 86.2 percent showing in favor of his California re-organization plan. What he neglects to mention is that only 24,000 members cast valid ballots, out of 309,000 who received them—a 7 percent participation rate. More than 120,000 workers—in UHW and two other locals—actively boycotted the election, signing cards or petitions protesting it. Members pointed out that SEIU’s ballot only gave them two options, both leading to UHW dismemberment. As rank-and-filer Lola Young explained to The Sacramento Bee, “It was like asking me if I wanted to be shot in the left knee or the right knee. It’s not much of a choice.” [For the remainder of the article, go here.]
UPDATE:Board Decision May Be Revealed Friday, January 9
WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andy Stern convened a conference call of the SEIU International Executive Board to discuss the forced transfer of 65,000 nursing home and homecare members out of SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW), its third largest affiliate, but delayed the final decision until tomorrow.
According to reports, several executive board members planned to raise concerns about both the issue and the process, particularly since the board was asked to make this decision via conference call rather than waiting for its regularly scheduled meeting on January 20-21, 2009.
Despite these concerns, Stern went forward with holding the vote, but decided to do it electronically rather than by voice vote. Executive Board members are required to cast their vote by 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow.
Mary Mundy, a certified nursing assistant at La Mariposa Nursing Center in Fairfield and one 125,000 UHW members who protested Andy Stern’s move to dismantle UHW with letters and petitions, said, “Fair minded people should recognize that healthcare workers should be able to determine our own future in our own union, rather than allow a power grab like this to proceed. We hope the International Executive Board does the right thing and respects the voices of California’s caregivers by allowing us to stay united in UHW.”
With more than 150,000 members, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the fastest-growing healthcare union in the United States. We represent healthcare workers in all job classifications and all healthcare settings, including hospitals, homecare, nursing homes and clinics. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. www.seiu-uhw.org
CONTACT: Sadie Crabtree 323-365-2083
Now is the hour to stand up for Democracy in the labor movement
by Cal Winslow
“We will have to destroy UHW to save it” This, it seems, is the objective of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in its campaign against its California affiliate, United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW).
In the past year, SEIU national leaders have orchestrated a multi-fronted assault on the 150,000 member California health care workers union – all designed to break the union. The intention, it is clear, is to seize control of UHW, remove the elected leaders and relegate its members to other jurisdictions, or to altogether new organizations. This, formally, is called “trusteeship,” an action labor journalist Steve Early has described as the trade union equivalent of “martial law.” There are indeed new organizations on the drawing boards. Others, yet to be created, remain in the imaginations of the union’s central staff, but once in place, they will have this in common: all are certain to be managed directly from the SEIU national headquarters in Washington, DC.
This SEIU campaign, combining organizational, political and legal attacks, as well as formal charges against leaders and harassment of members has involved a year-long onslaught against UHW and its members. Outsiders might consider it all a sort of trade union theater of the absurd, but for UHW staff and members it has been a long nightmare, a conflict imposed with no reasonable justification whatsoever, yet one that now amounts to a life and death struggle, presenting, as well, the threat of a colossal tragedy. The destruction of UHW, it is clear, will produce disastrous consequences both in California and in the labor movement nationally. On January 8, the SEIU International Executive Committee, meeting, grotesquely, in teleconference, is expected to take steps that will ultimately dismantle UHW – a union that is a powerful force for rank-and-file working people in California, one that has emerged as, perhaps, the single strongest voice for militant action and trade union reform within the US labor movement today. Staff from SEIU – charged with commandeering UHW – are expected to arrive in California no later than the end of this week. [For the remainder of this article, go here.]