Internal-SEIU battle results in new healthcare union but clogs labor negotiations at Tri-City Hospital

by on February 3, 2009 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Labor, Organizing, San Diego

UHW members from the Bay Area and elsewhere in Northern California met at the ILWU hall in Oakland to assess SEIU's plans for UHW. (photo: Dik Wood)

The internal division within the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) has taken a serious turn for the worst, breaking out in open warfare between the factions.  This new trench to trench in-fighting has resulted in a new national healthcare workers’ union, but has also disrupted local labor negotiations at Tri-City Hospital, already beset with its own internal battles.

SEIU Launches Takeover of United Healthcare Workers-West

by Mark Brenner / Labor Notes / originally posted Jan. 27, 2009

The Service Employees’ internal battle broke wide open late Tuesday when International President Andy Stern put the dissident United Healthcare Workers-West into emergency trusteeship.

Financial assets for the 150,000-member local were immediately seized, the executive board was dissolved, and full-time officers were removed from payroll. Reports circulated among workplace leaders that SEIU also dismissed UHW stewards, and that employers are holding captive-audience meetings to introduce new SEIU-appointed staff representatives.  [For the remainder of the article, go here.]

Tri-City union workers talks stalled

By Keith Darcé / Union-Tribune/ February 3, 2009

NORTH COUNTY – Unionized workers are joining the list of people facing turmoil at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside. Their representatives failed to show up yesterday for negotiations on the first-ever labor contract for 500 service employees at the hospital. It had taken four years for the workers to become unionized, and now it’s unclear when the talks will start because of an unfolding power struggle within the union. [ Read on...]

Healthcare Workers in California Announce Formation of New National Union

SEIU Voice / January 28th, 2009

The decision to form a new national healthcare union comes after Andy Stern and other SEIU leaders rejected a compromise proposal from UHW to end the conflict with California healthcare workers. UHW’s compromise proposal would have enabled California healthcare workers to work within SEIU by guaranteeing that caregivers had the right to fair vote before being transferred from one SEIU local union to another and that healthcare workers, rather than bureaucratic outsiders from Washington, would control the collective bargaining relationship with their Employer. [Read more …]

Activists Urge SEIU Members to Sign Open Letter to Andy Stern

SEIU Members On SEIU-UHW and the Defense Of Democratic Labor Rights

The economic collapse in California and nationally is the largest in our generation and a dangerous threat to our union, society, and lives. The need for a democratic labor movement is greater than ever.

This is why we will not accept any attempts to place the 160,000-member California-based local SEIU-UHW under trusteeship by SEIU’s top leadership. UHW should not be punished for voicing the opinion that union democracy and rank-and-file member participation are essential to a strong labor movement.

We call on all SEIU members and locals throughout the country to call for a halt to this attempted take-over of a historic local-one which has led the way for SEIU members in California. UHW is a local that stands at the forefront of the struggle for union democracy, that maintains high contract standards for its workers, and that has been the fastest growing local within SEIU.

The destruction of UHW will be a severe detriment to SEIU. It will be used by anti-labor forces and management to attack the labor movement as a whole. It will be used to give unions a black eye by unscrupulous forces that would rather not see pro-labor legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act pass. This attempted trusteeship will only benefit labor’s enemies.

In light of these reasons we call on all SEIU members to stand up and be counted in opposition to these tactics and call on SEIU and its president Andy Stern to draw back and accept democratic local control of SEIU-UHW.

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