Wednesday, April 14, 2010

One Final Note

Given the name of this blog, it would be impossible for me not to comment on this week's blockbuster news that Our Glorious Maximum Leader has decided to hang up his spurs. While the news got out in a forum not of his choosing, eventually he had to come to the fore and make his reasons known...

Such a self-serving fable can only be properly bookended by the statement of Sal Rosselli, who has become Nice Scarf's chief antagonist, and who managed against all odds to remain One Day Longer than Andy Stern...
If the reports are true, and Andy Stern steps down as the head of the SEIU, a sad chapter in the once proud union’s history will come to an end.

Stern’s legacy is that he took control of an organization built by more than a million hardworking janitors, healthcare workers, and public servants, and used their resources primarily to secure his own political power.

Instead of helping SEIU members fight for better jobs and better patient care, Stern gave himself the authority to cut secret deals with corporations and trade away members’ rights.

Instead of helping working people build their own organizations, he “restructured” existing unions, crushed democracy, and put his own loyalists in charge: appointees like Tyrone Freeman and Annelle Grajeda, who could always be trusted to vote with Stern, even if they couldn’t be trusted to keep their hands out of the till. Stern’s allies have been exposed for financial corruption and connected to the Blagojevich pay-to-play scandal.

Instead of uniting the labor movement’s strength, Stern tore apart the AFL-CIO and created the “Change to Win” federation, only to tear apart Change to Win four years later with an unprecedented raid on SEIU’s closest partner in the federation, Unite Here.

Last year, tens of thousands of SEIU healthcare workers in California realized that if they wanted to stand up for their patients and fight for their work to be valued, they would have to do it in an independent union outside SEIU. When Stern came to take control of their local union, they founded the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

Stern’s multi-million-dollar fights against these healthcare workers and against Unite Here have diverted resources away from healthcare reform and employee free choice, weakening the former and scuttling the latter. These wars of choice have taken a toll on the union’s finances as well as on Stern’s credibility.

Wherever Stern parachutes himself next, he will leave a workers’ organization in disarray, with a crisis of leadership from top to bottom. His likely successors, Mary Kay Henry and Anna Burger, have been tarred by the same ethics scandals and failed policies that marred his tenure. Stern’s legacy is that SEIU has become a rogue union, undemocratic, unable to pay its bills, and unwilling to defend its members at the national level.

The challenge for SEIU is not simply to choose a successor, but to reverse years of bad policy, restore accountability, and steer away from the brink.
I seriously doubt that SEIU will be able to pull back from the brink - the two most likely successors in the short term (Anna Burger and Mary Kay Henry) both owe their souls and their careers to Andy Stern, and thus are unlikely to engineer any course other than to endeavor to continue the prior path of undemocratic and corporate-style "unionism" which is much more concerned with management's rights and the union's bottom line than it is the lives and choices of the workers that SEIU is purported to represent.

¡Adios, Andy! Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Long And Winding Road

To say that this journey has been a long and strange one would be a serious understatement. However, like all journeys, this one must come to an end.

When starting out this blog, my original intent was to bring forth an article once or maybe twice a week, recounting all the issues that SEIU was creating with their misbegotten trusteeship. Little did I realize that SEIU would be such a self-destructive font of information. There were several months during the run of this blog where I was able to put up one post a day, and sometimes more than that on average.

I had also originally intended to continue to write this blog until such time as I was given the opportunity to cast my vote on what was going on inside KP vis-à-vis the trusteeship. In retrospect, that may have been a bit of an ambitious goal; then again, I had trusted (naively, I must admit) that the Kaiser management team would recognize the clearly stated will of its employees, and ask the NLRB to conduct an election based on the stated will of a majority of its employees.

Alas, as we all know, that was not to be, and instead we NUHW partisans have had to fight a Maquis-like insurgency against the lies and terror being perpetrated by SEIU, while being actively colluded against by both SEIU and KaiPerm management.

We all saw what the result of that collusion turned out to be for SEIU down south via the SoCal Tsunami, as well as the overwhelming verdicts at Santa Rosa and the other smaller nursing facilities.

Having seen those results, and having witnessed personally the scornful attitude that SEIU organizers have for the KaiPerm rank-and-file, it’s pretty clear to me that Zombie UHW’s days are numbered within KaiPerm.

When I started this blog, I had no idea of the level of passion and commitment that the NUHW supporters shared throughout the UHW-organized facilities. I have met and become online “friends” with a cross-section of healthcare workers and union activists that will (I hope) last years into a bright and gentle future when the true, democratic way of NUHW will become the norm throughout hospitals in California, rather than just a hopeful exception.

I stand in awe of what the NUHW supporters have done so far, and I am honored by the level of commitment that these people have given to what initially had to have been seen as a quest that would make Don Quixote stand up and take careful note.

To my readers and commenters – you have my sincerest gratitude and respect, for you are people who have been attached to an idea that might does not always make right, and that the quality of the members of an organization stand for much more than the sheer number of members in that organization. I am proud to have been an occasional chronicler of this battle, and I hope that I have done right and well by the long and winding road on which we all collectively find ourselves.

It is for that reason, and because the demands on my personal and professional time have grown far and above what was available to me one year ago, and far and above the free time required to keep ¡AA! both fresh and relevant, that the time has come for me to put ¡AA! to bed. As selfish as it may seem, I would prefer to end the blog well, rather than to continue on a path that must inevitably lead to an inferior presentation. I will instead be concentrating my pro-NUHW agitation at my local KaiPerm facility as well as other locales nearby.

For posterity’s sake, commentary on prior posts will remain open for about two weeks or so, at which time all further commentary will be closed, but I will leave the blog up for public review until the trusteeship is consigned to its well-deserved dustbin of history.

In the meantime, I leave the commentary on all things NUHW and SEIU in excellent hands, and I would encourage all interested readers to go over to Tasty’s place, or go over to Red Revolt and see what Keyser has been up to out in Wine Country USA. And who knows – maybe someday even Perez Stern will make a triumphant return to blogdom.

Until then, keep the faith, and remember that no matter where Andy Stern may find himself, I have no doubt that he will always see RED people.

Farewell, and take care.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

SEIU 1021 Tosses Out Andy's Appointees

The results are in from SEIU 1021's election, and Andy's Appointees had a Very Bad Day.

Almost the entire "Change 1021" slate was elected, and most of the current 1021 E-board members who stood for election or re-election (since the offices were re-jiggered for this election) were tossed out.

The Newest Face of SEIU's Thug Squad

Ooops...wait...wrong mugshot...

Okay, here we go - meet Liz Castillo, a paid Zombie UHW staffer, trying her best to fight off the organization effort at Garden Grove...

As it can be plainly seen, she takes the "fight" part seriously.

A police report has been filed with the Garden Grove Police Department (case #10-02687), and the whereabouts of Liz Castillo remain unknown at this time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sometimes the Jokes Just Write Themselves...

From TPM Cafe, via the AP...

Obama makes picks for debt commission

President Barack Obama's four appointments to the bipartisan debt panel he established last week include the head of manufacturing giant Honeywell and a former top-ranking Federal Reserve official.

Obama will name David Cote, chief executive officer at Honeywell International, and former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alice Rivlin to the panel today, an administration official said. He will also appoint Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, and Ann Fudge, the former chief executive officer of Young & Rubicam Brands.

The only way this makes any kind of logical sense is that in order to sit on this panel, you need to have run up a bunch of debt that you have no hope in hell of paying off. That's something that Our Glorious Maximum Leader knows all about.

Block And Copy

It appears some of the Zombies have been practicing their Word-fu. Too bad they didn't have someone independently check the document before sending it out...

(image on Scribd, courtesy of Tasty)

Having 52 signatures representing 51 facilities strikes me as something less than a grass-roots movement.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A St. Louise Organizer Speaks Out

From the Gilroy Dispatch...

Dear Editor,

I've been a respiratory therapist at Saint Louise Regional Hospital for 18 years. I want to tell our community the truth about what's been going on in our hospital over the last year, and why things are about to get better.

For the last eight years, my co-workers and I have been part of a labor union. You may have seen us on the sidewalk once or twice with picket signs, and wondered what was going on.

I helped organize the union because caregivers at Saint Louise were concerned about our patients as we worked harder and harder caring for more patients with not enough staff. We were tired of spending long hours caring for people in our community, only to come home unable to afford quality healthcare for our own families. We were tired of having no way to make things better.

Organizing the union was hard. We weren't prepared for how hard hospital administrators would fight to keep us from having a voice in decisions. They threatened us with discipline and told us we'd lose everything - but that wasn't true.

With our union, we finally had a way to solve the problems we all faced at work. We won contracts in 2002 and 2004 that improved patient care and helped attract and retain good, experienced caregivers.

But while we were moving forward here in Gilroy, trouble was brewing on the other side of the country. Officials of our union's parent organization had hatched a plan to centralize power in Washington, D.C., and take control of negotiations away from healthcare workers like us.

The Service Employees International Union wanted more members and more dues money, they didn't care who they hurt in the process. In time, we saw them make secret deals with nursing home companies to take away residents' rights, and undermine many of the gains hospital workers had made in California. Then they tried to take our rights away.

Together in our local union, we stood up to SEIU and told them "No." In retaliation, they took over our union last year, removed the co-workers we'd elected to represent us, and replaced our elected leaders with unaccountable staff from Washington, D.C.

SEIU took over negotiations at Saint Louise, and settled a contract that is nothing but takeaways - on scheduling, healthcare, job security, and more. They lied to workers about the deal, and made us vote on a contract we'd never seen. Employees at Saint Louise are sad and upset. Many of us have been targeted and threatened by SEIU.

It's been painful to see this happen. I spent 10 months of my life under fire from management, organizing this union so that my co-workers and I would have a voice of our own. Now the bullying and intimidation are coming from our own union. We have no voice, and little protection if we speak out for our patients.

Saint Louise workers are taking our union back, by building a new union that belongs to us and no one else. A majority of us petitioned last year to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and an election is coming soon so we can make the change official. NUHW was founded by healthcare workers like us, and the experienced negotiators who helped us win our first two contracts are now supporting us in NUHW. Thousands of workers at Kaiser and at hospitals and nursing homes have already joined NUHW.

We're voting NUHW to restore democracy and integrity to our union at SaintLouise, so we can keep standing up for quality patient care and better jobs in our community.

Kathleen Volle, registered respiratory therapist,

Saint Louise Regional Hospital

Looks like the vaunted DOCHS unity rally didn't generate as much unity as they wanted.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blog Status Update

Very light material, very little news, with very much else going on in the "real" world has led to a dearth of posts of late, for which I apologize. As always, excellent coverage can be seen over on Red Revolt as well as at Sternburger With Fries.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Zombie Follies

Even though not much has been happening in the news of late, things are beginning to cook out in the facilities. One of our Facebook sources passes this story along from Providence Tarzana...

First day on the job at Tarzana Hospital for our NUHW Rep. and Security attempted to throw him out. A group of workers who were having lunch at the next table promptly stood in his defense against security stating that "SEIU is in here every day bothering us but because he's NUHW you wanna throw him out?!!!" He stayed

Not to be outdone by such amateurish attempts at intimidation, we have this story courtesy of SBWF, wherein a Zombie nursing home rep decides to confront a rank-and-file nursing home worker who is gathering signatures for NUHW, and when that intimidation fails, the rep tries to get that worker fired...
So the SEIU rep hauls her to the boss's office and does her best to continue intimidating her there. The worker stands her ground, and begins to lecture this idiot SEIU rep about her fiduciary obligations to serve the interests of the workers and to HER specifically. And the worker reminds the SEIU rep that her monthly union dues are paying her salary.

The SEIU rep, lacking any thoughtful response to these arguments, simply threatens to have her fired if she continues her support for NUHW.
Go to Tasty's place to get the full rundown, but suffice it to say, it doesn't end well for the Zombie rep.

Friday, February 12, 2010

More Elections Coming...

It appears that the blocking charges for both Providence Tarzana and Olympia Medical Centers have been dismissed by the NLRB.

Those two facilities now join USC for upcoming elections to be scheduled within the next 60 days.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Binge, Purge, Binge, Purge

Nothing much going on right now. Waiting for specifics on some elections coming up, especially USC. Also waiting for some possible other elections to be released by the NLRB.

RUMOR ALERT - Rumblings are that SEIU got an order to show cause last Friday on about 100 similarly worded petitions before the board, and that they had seven days from that time to show cause why their blocking charges should be maintained.

And yes, I am aware that Craig Becker's nomination to the NLRB failed to clear a cloture vote in the U.S. Senate, which means that his nomination is, for all intents and purposes, stalled. As it stands right now, only 52 senators wanted the debate to go forward, which is minimalist support at best - and that support can only keep going down, based on some of the writings that Becker has had his name put to in the past. Obama may have no choice but to use a recess appointment if he really wants Becker on the NLRB.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Weekend Reading

Cal Winslow. Go. Read.

Here's a taste...
There existed in UHW, before trusteeship, a powerful, democratic and militant workplace culture – based on workers. And years of struggle. It was the foundation of a member driven union. This included a deep respect for the capacity of workers to organize, self-organize, for their courage and creativity – all so absent in SEIU. It still exists, a little battered perhaps, but if these three Kaiser units are any indication, it is, if anything, tougher than ever.
Like I said - Go. Read.