Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kaiser Steward Removal Revisited...

Another (now former) UHW Steward, Lisa Tomasian, has penned an article on Daily Kos explaining the events surrounding how she was removed as a steward by the Zombie UHW Kaiser director.
After trusteeship, the first letter I received from Dave Regan and Eliseo Medina stated that there would be no changes to our elected Shop Steward structure. The most recent letter I’ve received, however, said:

“We understand that you no longer share our commitment to build a stronger union and win a strong contract for 2010. Therefore, we have no other recourse than to remove you from your position as an SEIU-UHW Steward."

I found that interesting, to say the least, since neither of them has ever talked about this with me!

In the old days, pre-trusteeship, the only way an elected steward could be removed was through a recall by the members, the same people who elect us and who we're accountable to. Not anymore!

After I was removed from my elected position as a shop steward, more letters went out to other advocates for NUHW. The Trustee’s appointee Greg Maron started assessing shop stewards in Northern California. If shop stewards don't toe the SEIU line or if they say they support NUHW, they receive a letter removing them from their democratically elected positions. Greg has even stepped it up a bit by going to Steward Council meetings and if they don’t agree with him he suspends the meeting until further notice. Greg then follows up with letters removing them as shop stewards.

Interesting in that the letter quoted above has EXACTLY the same verbiage as the letter referenced in my post below, which was received by a different individual in KP. It appears that the nice folks at SEIU have just basically up and decided that everyone who was a steward now needs to be removed, no matter if they violate the established process for doing so, and no matter if Eliseo Medina specifically stated in his January 27th robocall that such actions would not occur.

However, Lisa evidently wasn't willing to just leave it at that...

Dear Greg Maron,

We understand that it is your current misunderstanding that you have the power to "remove" Shop Stewards because we want to join another union, we don't toe the SEIU line, we don't do what you say, we argue with your scab staff you've assigned to our facility, and we don't respect you, the trustees or SEIU's "leadership."

Sadly for you, our members are well educated and empowered to understand that our power comes from the workers, not from some failed attorney who gets to temporarily play "Kaiser Director" while the workers decertify SEIU. They understand that they elected Shop Stewards and that nothing you do or say or write will change that. Ours is a democratic union and of course, your trying to "remove" Shop Stewards because they disagree with you just highlights why 50,000 Kaiser workers will very soon no longer be a part of SEIU's dictatorship.

But the real point of this letter is not the lost cause of trying to educate you on union democracy. The real point is to make sure you understand the impact of our having filed a petition by the majority of Kaiser workers two weeks ago. The impact of that means that SEIU is no longer the union of Kaiser workers and you are no longer the Kaiser Director.

As such, you are hereby notified that you are no longer recognized by the Kaiser workers as the Kaiser Division Director. Further, Ken Krause and Linda Erickson are no longer recognized as union representatives to the workers of Santa Clara Kaiser.


The Kaiser Workers

Lisa Tomasian CRT/ARRT
Kaiser Santa Clara
NUHW Shop Steward

When I say that SEIU has been NUHW's best organizer, the stuff up above is exactly what I am referring to. It seems like SEIU has been going out of its way to offend their (allegedly) wayward brethren in UHW, and seem absolutely bent on conquest going forward rather than cooperation.

Cooperation is not achieved at the point of the gun. It certainly is not achieved by taking all of the old processes which were (by every estimation) beneficial to both the employees and the management - as well as the patients - and tossing those processes in the gutter in favor of SEIU-brand corporate unionism.

1 comment:

  1. I have been an incredibly proud member of SEIU for many years. I am now incredibly troubled by the direction our national leadership has taken on many fronts -- the UHW trusteeship and subsequent overwhelming use of resources to stymie the choice of tens of thousands of California members, the active interference and support for the implosion of UNITE-HERE, the failure to deal with corruption in locals until the outrages are played out in the press, etc, etc.

    However, one set of stories is more upsetting than all the above and that is the reports about the harm done to UHW stewards. Ethically right or wrong, politically smart or dumb, as a matter of law, the trustees can remove stewards.

    However, recent reports that trustees and their agents have colluded, cooperated, or even directed the discipline and/or termination of the employment of "dissident" stewards is most troubling of all.

    Every union, including SEIU, has in their constitution some variation of the following: "I will not knowingly harm or see a member harm if it is my power to prevent it." This statement is a basic summary of one aspect of simple solidarity.

    If the reports of "non-compliant" stewards being disciplined with the support (tacit or active) of trustees or SEIU union reps are true, their co-workers who have not revoked membership must file charges with the national union. And again, if these reports are true, then the offending trustees/reps are worse than any boss and must face expulsion from the union.

    Please report on this in more detail and urge any members who have first hand knowledge to file a complaint through the SEIU constitutional process and get the LA Times to report on it.

    In the middle of all the national union tumult, this issue may well turn out to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Investigate it, file a complaint, move it public -- its your obligation as a union member.


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