Herman Benson punks Andy Stern:
To anyone who has followed recent events in the SEIU with an unprejudiced eye, what obsesses Stern should be obvious: come what may, in one way or another, any stick to beat a foe, he is determined to crush the one inside the SEIU who has been his only effective critic: Sal Rosselli. Stern's road may be paved with good intentions, but he has been thrown off balance by a craving for unchallenged power. But this time, he confronts not a humble leaderless mass of members passively submitting to manipulation but a movement determined to fight to control their own union, a movement which can count upon support from the broad labor-liberal-civil libertarian community.Read the whole thing. Once again Benson is most excellent at laying out the root causes of the Trusteeship.
Workers form unions to defend their rights from arrogant employers. In this case, they are also compelled to defend democracy from an arrogant union leader. A hundred elected leaders of the UHW-W have resigned from the SEIU to found a new health care union, the National United Healthcare Workers or NUHW. Stern has provoked a battle for the hearts of 150,000 healthcare unionists that will be fought out at the job sites and before the National Labor Relations Board and local labor boards for many months, perhaps for years. It is bound to affect more than the fate of 150,000 West Coast workers; it will influence the quality of democracy in the labor movement. For the SEIU, these events are a sign of encroaching moral sickness.
Jonathan Cutler nicely summarizes the hypocrisy of the UHW Trusteeship:
Again, read the whole thing...
Employee free choice means nothing if workers cannot dump an inept union. But for more than 50 years, the National Labor Relations Board has used an obscure rule-the so-called contract-bar doctrine-to strictly limit the ability of workers to trade an incumbent union for a more attractive competitor. The NLRB will not consider petitions for a challenge election during the first three years of any contract between an incumbent union and an employer. The board will only hear petitions submitted during an intentionally narrow window-the 60 days before the third anniversary of a contract. The rationale for the policy is unambiguous: When there is a conflict between industrial stability and freedom of employees' choice, stability is the paramount consideration.
But it is not just government that favors stability and unity. Incumbent unions love the security afforded by a government policy that blocks external challengers and thwarts escape by union dissidents.
It is no coincidence, then, that in late February the Service Employees International Union-one of the unions pressing most aggressively for the easy-entry card-check provision of the Employee Free Choice Act-invoked the "no-exit" contract-bar rule in an increasingly fierce battle with activist health care workers from its enormous 150,000-member local in California who want to dump SEIU and join a rival group, the National Union of Healthcare Workers.
More than 50 percent of employees represented by SEIU at Kaiser-Permanente have signed petition cards requesting the switch to the competitor union. But SEIU enthusiasm for petition cards seems not to apply in this instance. SEIU says it will not accept a check of petition cards as evidence of popular support for the National Union of Healthcare Workers. Indeed, it has gone further by asking that the NLRB deny the Kaiser employees' request for a secret ballot challenge election.