Well, enough got to be enough for Ms. Makuch, and she decided to find herself another gig. But before doing so, she sent off a letter to Our Glorious Maximum Leader, and decided to make it public...
Andy:I suppose it is a good thing that some senior SEIU staff are taking note of what is going out here in Cali, and are making known their objections to it to Brother Stern. It's just regrettable that they have to do that while on their way out the door.
Today is my last day at SEIU. I can't tell you how disappointing it was for me to decide to leave. I have been helping health care workers join our union, first at Local 250/UHW and then at the International, for over 7 years. For the most part it has been a job that inspired me everyday. I have never been so challenged in my life.
Last week, in my last meaningful task at SEIU I spent the week in DC working with members who were in town to talk to their congressional reps about the Free Choice act. It was absolutely the best of what SEIU is and can be. Member leaders articulated both why the union is good and why the current process to get a union is not only undemocratic but gives the power to one or two men who happen to be the boss. What was going on at that conference was in sharp contrast to what you and the other leaders of this union were doing at that same time in California (UHW, et al), keeping corrupt leaders on staff (Rickman Jackson, Annelle Grajeda) but laying off the union's organizers, and most alarmingly interfering in UNITE/HERE's internal struggles. You are not a CEO and unions do not pull hostile takeovers on each other.
The biggest struggle in labor is the tension between organizing on scale with huge employers and remaining democratic and meaningful organizations for our members. These are not either/or's. In fact, many local unions in SEIU have been successful in that quest, including UHW. As you know, I was on staff there for nearly 5 years and of course part of my reaction is emotional, and if you knew the talent you were casting out, yours would be too. More than that, I am appalled that your answer to UHW's critique is to destroy the local. Not only is that a ridiculous reaction, it is also a terrible use of resources. 91,000 workers so far have filed petitions to decertify SEIU. We are spending all of our time meddling in other union's internal politics (CNA, UNITE/HERE), trying to destroy what once was among the most functional local in the country, and we are not planning meaningful organizing in Healthcare. No wonder we are laying off those organizers, we're apparently out of the business of organizing workers.
I know that I am not the only staff member leaving SEIU, whether by choice or by lay off. There is a terrible morale problem here. So many of our staff have put their lives on hold to organize workers into this union, and well they should. But can you imagine living in hotels, going home once or twice a month and having no control over your schedule--for what? To ask the boss to fire UHW stewards? Or to ask nurses to run against their elected leadership? Or, is it to try to decertify some of this country's best union hotels in Las Vegas?
Most of us, the best of us, come to this work to push people into taking power back at their workplace and in their lives. We have done too little of that recently. SEIU will lose many good staff in this period, and the union will suffer for it. I can not say enough how wonderful so many of the SEIU staff are. I have learned so much from working with so many of them. They and our members deserve better than this.
Ultimately, I will put my trust into our members; I urge them to hold their local and national leaders accountable. We all desperately need them to do that.