Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Unconventional Convention, Epilogue

(image courtesy of the NUHW Photostream on Flickr)

Last Saturday morning and afternoon, I saw people from all walks of life, with wildly divergent life experiences, speaking multiple different "first" languages, all gathered together on their own time and on their own nickel, into a junior high school in San Francisco, for a common purpose, speaking with one voice, to state that we - NUHW - will go forward with a new mission, that being to set right what has gone so badly wrong in the union movement here in California, and then nationwide.

Going into this convention, I really did not know what to expect. I've never been a "union guy" per se - I grew up in Silicon Valley, my folks were in tech, and as a result I have had little if any exposure to what, if anything, being involved in a union is all about. When I hired on at KP, which was my first unionized job, I thought of the union as a sort of necessary evil, a penance payment to be paid in order to receive the benefits of working in such a fine organization as KP. To be honest, at the beginning of my KP career, I never really paid being in a union much mind - that is, until the trusteeship talk began. I came to realize about a year or so ago (even before the Marshall hearings) that the members of UHW were eventually going to have to take a side in the Great California Union Foodfight.

I suppose it is only appropriate that NUHW's Founding Convention started in a place known as the Mission, for it is truly a Mission that lays before us all, as we go forward and re-establish the rights and privileges of union democracy which SEIU has so foully and dishonestly taken from us.

Going forward, we are in for a long, nasty fight. SEIU is not going to go away, and they are going to try any means by which to keep their membership under their collective thumb - because they know that if one large group can break out of SEIU, then other groups can break out as well, and the whole SEIU organizing model will shatter into a thousand pieces. Sal put it about right: "We will last one day longer than SEIU."

There is much work to be done, and opportunities abound for those so inclined to move NUHW forward. Fresno's IHSS vote is coming up next month, and the ballots for Doctors Hospital come out this week. CalPERB petitions are pending at Monterey/Natividad, Hawkins, and Watsonville. The NLRB is, of course, holding somewhere north of 300 petitions in bureaucratic limbo. NUHW will start to collect (again) the Kaiser petitions beginning in July and August (since the prior petitions have a one-year shelf life) in anticipation of going back to NLRB and forcing a vote in June of 2010. Anywhere and everywhere, there is work that can be done on NUHW's behalf - and on the greater behalf of all of our colleagues who are still stuck in Hotel California, desperate to check out.

Our Mission has been laid before us - so let's get to work.

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