Saturday, May 30, 2009

Flo Furlow, In Her Own Words...

Flo Furlow knows first-hand what is at stake down at Fresno in the IHSS representation battle. She is one of the people whose lives will be directly affected by the outcome of the upcoming ballot.

Not only is she a homecare worker in Fresno County, she was also one of the leaders that initially got representation for herself and her colleagues back in 2002, and perhaps it is because of that she was given some space in the Fresno Bee to lay out for everyone what she thinks they should know...

I am a home-care worker in Fresno County and an elected leader of the National Union of Healthcare Workers. Over the years, I've been proud to have helped make it possible for many people to live in their own homes, which is exactly where they have wanted to be -- living in their homes, and not in nursing homes.

Right now, I work for two clients who, I know in my heart, are living longer and happier lives because of Fresno County's In Home Supportive Services Program.

I suppose I came to this work through the civil rights movement. I was just a kid when I got arrested for sitting at a Woolworths lunch counter in Little Rock, Arkansas. When the manager came over to say that they didn't serve our kind, I remember telling him, "Oh, don't worry. We're not planning on ordering anything." I had some explaining to do to my parents when they picked me up from the police station.

The home-care movement for me has been part of the history of the civil rights movement. Years ago seniors and people with disabilities began organizing under the slogan, "Our homes, not nursing homes." They said that the sad history of locking people away in institutions, where they would be out of sight and out of mind, had to end.

Home-care workers agreed. And in 2002, 10,000 of us formed a union of home-care workers here in Fresno. We wanted to work with home-care consumers to make "Our homes, not nursing homes" a reality.

We also did it to win dignity and a living wage for ourselves and our families. We knew that the work we did was important for our communities, and that it was worth more than poverty wages.

The thing that made me most proud of the union we built was that it was based on a fundamental value we learned from our friends in the disability rights movement: "Make no decision about us without us." In our union, we elected our own representatives from neighborhoods all over Fresno County, and we made the decisions about our own futures. The era of dignity and respect for home-care workers had begun. We won our current wage of $10.25 an hour and lifted thousands out of poverty.

But by 2009, some of our union's Washington, D.C., leaders had lost their way. The leaders of the SEIU, our parent union, came to believe that they were smarter than their own members, and that only they should have the right to make decisions for us. It all came to a head when they took over our local union and replaced all our elected local leaders with their appointed bosses flown in from other parts of the country.

The aftermath of that takeover has been heartbreaking. Before the takeover, we had a strong voice in our union. We were able to stop wage cuts and protect services year after year for the Fresno's most vulnerable residents.

Today we have no voice at all. Instead the only voice is that of out-of-touch SEIU officials we never elected, who this April locked us out of an arbitration over our own wages.

The workers who bargained our contract with the county were shut out, and as a result, we are now watching our wages fall and our families' sense of security collapse while we have no voice to change it.

But if there's one thing I learned from the civil rights movement, it's that you don't have to just accept injustice. So we didn't. Thousands of us signed petitions to keep our own elected leadership, under a new name, the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The leaders of NUHW are the health care workers and leaders we elected, who we trust and who respect our voices.

We are voting in an election next week to take our union back, and to return it to the principle we founded it on: "No decision about us without us."

I am excited to be voting for NUHW to put our union back on track to serving home-care workers and the people who depend on us.

She's been there. She's done that. She's been a leader, and she is leading once again. There really is no one that SEIU can stand up against this lady, is there?

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Parellel Press

One of the more interesting aspects of the Intertubes is that stories will be reported upon in English as well as in Spanish here in California. The appearance of Dolores Huerta in Fresno on Wednesday afternoon was no different, as it caught the attention of one of the LA Metro Area's Spanish online newspapers - and may well have made it into print as well. The original Spanish will appear in green, while the Google translation will appear in red. Any parts that have been altered by me (because Google translate couldn't find the word) will also appear in red but italicized...

Huerta contra SEIU

Avala formación de nuevo sindicato de trabajadores sanitarios, en nueva fase de contradicciones y escisiones intestinas en movimiento sindical

Dolores Huerta decidió entrar a la reyerta entre la dirección nacional del Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria de los Servicio (SEIU) y una fracción del disuelto Sindicato de Trabajadores Sanitarios (UHW), que ha dado pasos para crear su propio sindicato en abierto desafío a su antigua dirigencia.

Huerta against SEIU

Supports formation of new health workers' union in new phase of internal contradictions and divisions in labor movement

Dolores Huerta decided to enter the brawl between the National Union of Workers in the service industry (SEIU) and a fraction of the dissolved union of health workers (UHW), which has taken steps to establish their own union in open defiance of its former leadership.

La legendaria acompañante de César Chávez y una de las pioneras del movimiento sindical campesino se pronunció en Fresno a favor del sindicato en formación, la Union Nacional de Trabajadores Sanitarios (NUHW).

"Estos trabajadores están luchando por recuperar su sinidicato y sus salarios", dijo Huerta, y agregó que el NUHW va a conferirles la voz y la representación que necesitan para defender sus intereses.

The legendary companion of César Chávez and a pioneer of the UFW in Fresno pronounced her support of the union in formation, the National Union of Health Workers (NUHW).

"These workers are struggling to regain their union and their wages," Huerta said, adding that the NUHW will give the voice and representation that they need to defend their interests.

La próxima semana, diez mil asistentes sanitarios a domicilio que estaban afiliados a la UHW votarán en Fresno para decidir si se incorporan al nuevo sindicato.

El UHW, una organización con 135 mil miembros, fue intervenida por la jefatura nacional de la SEIU a principios del año por supuestas violaciones a los estatutos de la SEIU cometidas por sus dirigentes. Éstos, incluyendo el presidente de la seccional, Sal Roselli, fueron desplazados por la SEIU y reemplazados por un junta de fideicomisarios nombrada por la dirección nacional de la SEIU.

Next week, ten thousand home care workers who are affiliated with UHW in Fresno will vote to decide whether to join the new union.

The UHW, an organization with 135 thousand members, was taken over by the national SEIU earlier this year for alleged violations of the statutes of the SEIU by their leaders.These, including the president of the local, Sal Roselli, were displaced by the SEIU and replaced by a board of trustees appointed by the national leadership of SEIU.

En respuesta a esa acción, los sindicalistas desplazados empezarzon a dar los primeros pasos para la formación de la NUHW.

Eliseo Medina, uno de los fideicomisarios nombrados por la SEIU para manejar la UHW, y antiguo compañero de luchas de Huerta, criticó el aval .

"He conocido a Dolores por más de 45 años y siempre la he respetado, pero en este caso está del todo equivocada. Esta abogando por algo que sería extremamente riesgoso para los trabajadores sanitarios de Fresno", dijo por teléfono.

In response to that action, the displaced union leaders commenced to take the first steps for the formation of the NUHW.

Eliseo Medina, one of the trustees appointed by the SEIU to manage UHW, and a former companion in past struggles with Huerta, criticized the endorsement.

"I have known Dolores for more than 45 years and I have always respected her, but in this case she is entirely mistaken. She is advocating something that would be extremely risky for health workers in Fresno," he said by telephone.

Señaló que si alguien debe entender lo que es la unidad entre trabajadores es la ex cofundadora del Sindicato de Campesinos, y aseguró que los sanitarios de Fresno que voten por NUHW se arriesgan a perder sus salarios y beneficios que ya tienen, pues estarían alineándose con líderes "que fueron incapaces de protegerlos" en el pasado.

"Estamos en un momento difícil y lo que menos necesitan es estar aislados del resto de sus compañeros en la lucha que se avecina con el Gobernador", dijo Medina, un nombre tan respetado como el de Huerta en el terreno sindical.

He said that if anyone should understand what is unity among workers it is the former co-founder of the UFW, and said that health care workers of Fresno who vote for NUHW risk losing their wages and benefits they already have, since they would be aligning themselves with leaders "which were unable to protect them" in the past.

"We are in a difficult moment and what we need is less isolation from the rest of our comrades in the struggle that lies ahead with the Governor," said Medina, a respected name such as that of Huerta in the field of unions.

It is unfortunate that I have to say this, but this piece was so absolutely biased in favor of The Purple Plague that it almost hurts my eyes just to read it. Note that there is no actual question-and-answer pull quote from Sra. Huerta - the material from which she is quoted came from her speech at Eaton Plaza. It is also worthy to note that Sra. Huerta had some choice things to say about Scab Medina in Spanish at the Eaton Plaza speech, but none of that was mentioned in the reportage seen above.

On the other hand, this "journalist" took better than one-third of this story on Dolores Huerta to actually have some interview time with Scab Medina, even going so far as to suggest that Scab Medina's name is on par in the union field as that of Dolores Huerta.

I am willing to believe that there may be some "translation" issues here, but I don't think so.

In any event, for Scab Medina to get the last word in any story in regards to Dolores Huerta's support for NUHW is an indication in my mind that this particular news outlet, through this particular reporter, is showing just how biased they are in favor of the SEIU status quo, and just how necessary it is, and how necessary it will be going forward, for NUHW to break through the media logjam - and not just in English.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

If Kaiser Thinks NUHW Has Forgotten About Them...

...they're WRONG. Here's the lowdown on Wednesday afternoon's protest against the Kaiser facility in Stockton...
More than 100 Kaiser Permanente employees took to the hot sidewalks surrounding the health care provider's massive West Lane complex Wednesday afternoon to protest what they say are Kaiser's unfair attempts to stop them from organizing and joining a new union.

The red T-shirt-clad demonstrators - medical assistants, licensed vocational nurses, radiology technicians, member services employees and others - want to leave their existing union - SEIU-UHW, the Oakland-based local of the Service Employees International Union - and vote to join a new group, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, or NUHW.

Kaiser, in a statement handed out to some of its 165,000 county members who visited its campus Wednesday, said it "is not a party in this dispute. We have not, and cannot, take sides in this matter, or any disagreement between unions."

Kaiser spokesman Rob Veneski said, "NUHW does not represent any Kaiser Permanente employees, and it appears that the activity (Wednesday in Stockton) is part of a dispute between NUHW and SEIU-UHW, a union that represents more than 50,000 KP employees in California."

Memo to Kaiser spokesflack Rob Veneski: When you make it almost impossible for people to stop their automatic dues deductions, you are taking a side in the matter. When you have HR reps escorting people in NUHW colors to their appointments even though they are on the campus in their own time and not Kaiser time, you are taking a side in the matter. When you deny the right to vote on union membership to an absolute majority of your union covered employees, and force those employees to sit and wait for an arbitrary deadline - and then meet with SEIU bargainers without approval or vote of the people they are supposed to represent, you are taking a side in the matter.

NUHW supporters such as Robert Nevarez and Tamika Edwards, both longtime Stockton Kaiser employees, expressed sadness in the way they say Kaiser has treated them since they started standing up for the new union and said they no longer want to be represented by SEIU-UHW. They disputed Kaiser's statement.

"We strongly disagree that Kaiser is neutral in this. We are forced to pay dues - $72.90 a month - to SEIU, a union that is not working in the best interest of the worker. We're here to make sure everybody knows about it," said Nevarez, a medical assistant for 10 years. He said Kaiser has not allowed him to withhold his automatic dues payment to SEIU-UHW from his paycheck, despite several attempts to do so, citing federal rules.

"We used to take pride in the labor management partnership between Kaiser and the union, but that has gone away," said Edwards, who has worked in member services for nine years.

This is an aspect to the Kaiser story that is going very much unreported, in that a lot of goodwill was built up between the rank-and-file and management through the Labor Management Partnership, but the LMP was unilaterally tossed on the ash heap the second that Zombie UHW took over, because the Zombies cannot be bothered with such fripperies, and management was evidently jonesing on a way to get out of the LMP - and true to their nature, the Zombies made it easy on management.

"They do pride themselves on being the best place to work, the best place for care. They should have stayed neutral, because now that's no longer true. The patient ultimately suffers," Edwards said.

NUHW activist Jeff Taylor, a five-year Kaiser employee, said the Kaiser Stockton workplace has become "very chaotic. Kaiser is mistreating its workers and not protecting their rights. It is favoring SEIU, because SEIU won't fight for better wages and worker rights. We just want Kaiser to back off workers and let us organize. They should not be breathing down our backs."

Taylor said the NUHW has the support of more than 80 percent of Stockton's 800-plus union workers.

It remains to be seen whether Kaiser's short-term gains will involve long-term pains.
SEIU-UHW spokesman Pete Janhunen said the relationship between his union and Kaiser is healthy and very effective, and the NUHW has yet to prove it has any support beyond those who came out Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate.
Tell ya what, Pete: Give those folks down in Stockton the chance to vote the matter, and you will see just how much support NUHW is proven to have.

I'll let Mr. Pete Janhunen in on a little secret, though - when you have to use parliamentary tricks in order to prevent a vote, then you can pretty much bet that it is your side that hasn't proven its level of support.

Dolores Huerta's Fresno Speech

"Every worker is an Organizer."


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Video Report From Today's Rally...

Courtesy of KGPE/47, the CBS affiliate for Fresno...

More tomorrow...

Getting Ready To Rock the 5-5-9...

Photos are coming out in regards to the goings-on down Fresno way...

It looks like NUHW doesn't feel the need to warn its volunteers about an appropriate dress code.

It also looks like the NUHW folks are there in the right frame of mind, with love in their hearts...

...and smiles on their faces. There's a pretty good reason, too - they are their of their OWN volition, rather than being told by the Zombie UHW and SEIU goons that they have to be there unless there are "extenuating circumstances."

See the rest of the photos on the NUHW Photostream on Flickr. Never have so many people been so genuinely happy about being in Fresno in June.

Keep it up, crew! Give 'em NUHW Hell!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Q: When Is Image More Important Than Charity?

A: When SEIU decides one of the sponsors is just too icky for Democrats to be seen around.
Inside Baseball: Politics threaten legislative softball game

There's just no getting around the struggles between labor and business groups when it comes to California politics. Even the annual legislative softball game, an event which is supposed to be a bipartisan fundraiser for a local charity, has gotten tangled in a partisan battle, with envoys from the speaker's office shuttling back and forth to try to save the Wednesday evening game.

The problems began last week, when members of the Service Employees International Union, one of the most powerful unions in California, indicated they may urge legislators to boycott the game. The problem is that the game's sponsor, Sutter Health, is locked in an ongoing battle with SEIU workers over collective bargaining.

"We definitely have concerns about Sutter," said SEIU spokesman Allen Davenport. "I haven't talked to anybody in the Capitol who isn't aware of Sutter's history of overcharging people and attempting to monopolize the health care delivery system.

"And," he adds, "they're notoriously uncooperative when it comes to the labor organizing interests of their employees."

Just last week, the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel determined that eight Sutter Health centers broke federal labor law when they locked out union after the union's one-day strike last December.

Davenport says SEIU has not officially called for a boycott of the game, but it was something they were considering. "At the moment, we are not. But we are having discussions with legislators. We are concerned that Sutter is attempting to build up a good name in the community by attaching its name to charitable events. We fully understand Sutter's strategy and we feel legislators have been unwitting accomplices in this."

Calls to Sutter spokesman Bill Gleeson were not immediately returned. But Republican Party spokeswoman Karen Hanretty said, "the whole controversy goes to the heart of the union agenda in California, and the fact that they're more concerned with protecting their clout at the bargaining table than providing much needed financial aid to disabled children."

Monday morning, Democrats were working behind the scenes to keep SEIU from calling for an official boycott of the game. The speaker's office deployed Bob Giroux to help resolve the issue.

Hundreds of tickets to the 5th annual "Legislative All Star Game" have been sold at $10 per piece. The game, which is supposed to be played on August 24, promises a legislative home run derby, and a Democrats vs. Republicans softball game.

The game is a fundraiser for the River Cats Independence Field, a baseball field being built in Sacramento for children and adults with disabilities.

Coby Pizzotti in the Speakers Office of Members Services said there have already been more than 600 tickets sold, and estimates up to 400 more will be sold by game day. In all, the event has raised more than $42,000 for the charity, the most successful softball game yet.

When asked about the brouhaha, Pizzotti said he was confident it would be resolved.

Over the last couple of years, Republicans have gotten the better part of the Democrats. But with some new blood, and a new captain, Democrat Joe Baca, Democrats have high hopes for this year's battle.

"All these new freshman have given us new hope," said Baca, who played four years of baseball in college and coached high school baseball. "We've made a big improvement."

Aside from the game, Baca said it proves "a great opportunity to bond with legislators and get a little break from politics." But when asked about the political cloud over the event, Baca said, "As far as I know, the game is on. If that changes, then it changes."
Good job there, guys. I'm sure that the children will appreciate your assistance to the Democrats in the state Guvmint in the maintenance of their purity when it comes to dealing with one of the few corporations in the MetroSac area that actually has some extra money lying around to be able to donate it to charitable causes.

Far more important that you help the Dems keep a respectable distance from being tainted by Sutter's charity, rather than looking out for the interests of the people who are paying your collective salary.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Radio Daze...

Here's a transcript from the KPFA Weekend News for this past weekend, in which they did a story on the results of the recent Doctors Medical Center vote, as well as the upcoming vote down in Fresno. The host of the piece is Vanessa Tate, and the two interviewees are Mell Garcia from NUHW, and Nathan Selzer from SEIU. This story can be found approximately 13 minutes into the link above:

VT: Caregivers at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo have overwhelmingly voted to support a new union. The National Union of Healthcare Workers, or NUHW, won the recertification vote among 300 caregivers by nearly 83%. NUHW is a new independent union formed after its leadership had been expelled from the Service Employees International Union's United Healthcare Workers West in a dispute last year. Mell Garcia is a healthcare worker at Kaiser Oakland and was formerly an Executive Board member at the SEIU local, but was removed when SEIU put the local in trusteeship after its leaders opposed it on issues concerning bargaining and internal democracy. She is now an interim board member of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

MG: "First of all, at DMC in San Pablo, you know, 300 hospital workers voted to come into NUHW, so they essentially won the very first election to join our great new union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and it was overwhelmingly to accept NUHW and to overwhelmingly reject SEIU, 158 to 24. And what that clearly states is that when you allow the workers to speak and to vote, they will make a choice, and NUHW will win when they are allowed to speak and allowed to vote."

VT: But SEIU is claming that the election was tainted because of employer behavior, and has filed a complaint with the state's Public Employee Relations Board which oversaw the election. Nathan Selzer is an SEIU representative.

NS: "We are concerned, one was that Doctors unilaterally imposed changes to access policy that required SEIU UHW representatives be escorted at all times, where that same, that was not required of the NUHW representatives. So that is certainly one thing we want to make sure in all elections, you know, workers are able to speak to whoever is seeking to represent them freely, and not, you know, under the duress of having a security guard or someone standing there while they are continuing to have a conversation about, you know, the changes and improvements they want to make to the workplace."

VT: In response, the National Union of Healthcare Workers told KPFA that to claim an existing representative had more access than a new union was "ridiculous", and, says activist Mell Garcia:

MG: "They tried to shut down the democratic process for the healthcare workers for many, many years, and they just flat-out refused to let us vote. For them to, um, you know, now say there is something wrong with the democratic process because they're losing is very disingenuine (sic). They are trying any angle in their perception to try and block our way to freedom, and clearly like I stated before, when workers are allowed to speak, they make their choice, and they are very clear and very precise about the choice that they want."

VT: SEIU's United Healthcare Workers West currently represents some 150,000 workers in various workplaces statewide. The National Union of Healthcare Workers has petitioned state and federal labor boards to conduct recertification elections in units that contain about 100,000 workers. On June 1st, homecare workers in Fresno will begin voting in a two-week-long mail ballot election on whether they want to decertify SEIU and simultaneously certify the NUWH (sic) to represent them. Seltzer is optimistic about SEIU's chances.

NS: "The Service Employees International Union UHW is one of the largest healthcare locals in the country, actually. We have roughly 150,000 members and have a proven track record of representing healthcare workers' best interests and, you know, achieving very strong contracts. We are committed to moving this local forward, and committed to a process where members are leading the way. We are actively organizing throughout the state, and people are building their committees and are closing contracts to their benefit in a very difficult economic time."

VT: The issue of wages and the state budget is central as well for Mell Garcia of the National Union of Healthcare Workers in the Fresno campaign.

MG: "I can tell you that I am here in Fresno with hundreds of other volunteers, healthcare workers from across the state, to help our homecare workers here take back their union. We want to make sure they understand, specifically, the facts. It's been pretty scary when we've been going door-to-door, the things that SEIU-UHW has been telling them. One case in point, telling them that the leaders that are in charge that took over our union are the ones responsible for elevating the homecare workers' wage rate out here to $10.25, when in fact it's completely the opposite; it is the fired, elected and respected leadership out of UHW that are now moving forward to try to organize workers into NUHW that gained that wage rate for the homecare workers."

VT: The election will decide representation for some 10,000 homecare workers who work for Fresno County's In-Home Support Services.

Will SEIU ever get anything more across than talking points about how big they are? You can be the biggest damn company in the world and not do jack shyte for your customers - just look at the California State Guvmint for examples #1, #2 and #3 in that regard, with the Federal Guvmint not far behind.

It's also amusing to listen to them talk about all the excellent contracts they've gotten across considering their recent track record with Foresight, with the Alameda Hospital debacle, and with SEIU 1021 and the remains of its feet.

A Beatdown So Good... could cut it with a fork!

Worth Remembering...

It is on this day, Memorial Day, that we give remembrance and reverence to those who have fallen in the service of this great nation. Those brave souls, over the past 235 years, have individually and collectively given their lives to a nation - which over the recent decade or so has seen this day of gratitude devolve into the first "official" day of the summer traveling season, with many more news reports devoted to the price of gasoline or the size of the traffic jam at the Cordelia junction than to the stories of the men and women who, even to this day, give their lives such that others in this nation may live theirs in peace and harmony.

To any and all of you that have relatives and friends who are currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, may a gracious God watch over your family members until conditions and circumstances let them return to your embrace.

And to any and all of you that have relatives and friends who have given their lives in the service of this nation, you have my everlasting gratitude and respect - because that service given, and that life lost, was entirely voluntary and was given to this nation of free will. May a gracious God watch over you and your family members and friends as you tender this day to the memory of those lost such that this nation may live.

After all - it is because of the sacrifices that you and your family have made on my behalf that has allowed me the opportunity to speak in this forum, to live where I choose, to work in my chosen mode of employ, and to have the freedom to say, do, go, eat, sleep, walk, talk, work, and think in whatever fashion I choose to do (so long as it's okay with the spouse).

If you're reading this, thank a teacher. If you're reading this of your own choice, thank a veteran. If that veteran is lost, thank his or her family for what they have provided to this nation.

And may God bless the United States of America.

SEIU 1021 Foot Targeting, Round Three

It appears that the City and County of San Francisco has come to another tentative agreement with SEIU 1021 which is going to be subject to a ratification election - again. Unfortunately, they are not going to be able to avoid the initial round of layoffs because of the prior rejection of the TA by 1021 rank-and-file.

KPIX/5 has raw video of the announcement by the 1021 "leaders" and bargaining committee members, and you can see/hear their illiterate mumblings here. Word of advice to 1021 bargaining committee members - if you are going to be speaking in public, rehearse.

Not everyone, though, was entirely thrilled with the prospect of another shot at approving these concessions...

A couple dozen members of Service Employees International Local 1021 who work at the Hall of Justice called a news conference Thursday afternoon to explain their side of the ongoing saga over whether the union will agree to contract concessions.

The union rejected the contract changes that would have saved the city $38 million, prompting the mayor to announce pending layoffs of 1,000 workers. But reporters weren't the only ones who showed up to hear the members' explanations. So did Gilda Valdez, chief of staff for SEIU 1021. Union members are clearly peeved at their leaders for not adequately explaining the concessions the group voted down last week - and for not communicating about the idea of a revote next week either.

"We pay your salary!" one member told Valdez. "We already said no! Why should there be a revote?" called out another. After a heated back-and-forth, Valdez apologized to the group and promised to send a union leader to the Hall of Justice to explain any new concessions. Monica Wheaton, an SEIU member who works in the victims' services division at the district attorney's office, said members are angry that they're being vilified by the mayor for turning down the agreement when other unions aren't agreeing to givebacks either.

"We just want it to be fair, and we don't want to have to give up more than other unions," she said. Valdez said the 49-member bargaining unit is still trying to hammer out an agreement with the mayor's office to bring to the 11,000 SEIU members as soon as today.

Regrettably for the 1021 membership, what is done is already done, and the city budget has had to go forward - without the concessions desired by 1021 leadership, and therefore layoffs have already begun...

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 have hammered out a third round of contract concessions, but Newsom's budget went to the printer's at midnight last night and doesn't include any of it.

Here's the backstory: Newsom and SEIU agreed to one round of concessions, which the union leadership decided not to bring to members for a vote. Then, they figured out another package which would save the city $38 million, and the 11,000 members voted it down.

Now, they've reached a third agreement which the leadership will educate members about in the coming week and bring for a vote in the first week of June. But Newsom's budget is already done and being printed to deliver to the Board of Supervisors June 1. (No, we couldn't get his office to spill the beans on what it includes.)

That means 288 city workers are receiving pink slips today as planned, and those are unlikely to be rescinded. The rest of the 1,000 pink slips Newsom promised will go out over the coming weeks as scheduled, but will likely be rescinded if the union members agree to the concessions.

The agreement includes 10 unpaid holidays and five floating holidays over the course of the contract, extending the contract for a year to June 30, 2011, and no new layoffs between ratification and Nov. 15. Also, the mayor's office has committed to trying to get revenue measures (that means tax hikes) on the November ballot. The total savings of the concessions are $31 million.

"We're submitting a budget that does not take into account this tentative agreement," said Nathan Ballard, Newsom's press secretary. "We've entered into two tentative agreements with SEIU so far this season. We're hoping the third try's a charm."

Larry Bevan, who works with mentally ill patients at Laguna Honda Hospital and is part of the SEIU bargaining team, said he thinks this package has a better chance of passing because members understand the consequences.

"There's a huge difference when you're talking about hypotheticals and being faced with the true realities of our economic times," he said. "It's one thing to say we're looking at 1,000 pink slips. It's another thing when 1,000 pink slips are in someone's hands."

Fair enough. It's nice to see the writing on the wall, but don't complain about that writing on the wall when you gave the author the spray can with which to write it. The SEIU 1021 leadership all believed that just seeing something with the SEIU logo on the top would make the membership accept it at face value, but evidently did not feel the need to do any selling of their concession package.

Well, the "sales pitch" for the new vote can be seen in the video report above - I have a suspicion that this upcoming second try will be much closer than many folks in 1021 and the City and County of San Francisco would wish it to be.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Reading Through The SEIU Spin...

"Nobody voted for NUHW! Yeah...That's the ticket!"

As we all know by now, SEIU is now bleating to all that would listen to them that the recent outcome of the representation at Doctors Hospital in San Pablo is "flawed." The infamous PerezStern has gotten a hold of an internal Zombie UHW memo which outlines the spin that SEIU is going to attempt to put on their having gotten absolutely punked by NUHW:
From: Kim Evon
Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2009 3:54 PM
To: All Staff
Subject: Doctor's Medical Center

SUBJECT: Sent on behalf of Debbie Schneider, Deputy Trustee and Chief of Staff

We know that many of you may have already heard about the election results at Doctors Medical Center. For those of you who have not, the Public Employee Relations Board has certified that NUHW did win the vote count there. We wanted to take a moment to make sure no one loses focus on the very important facts surrounding this and other PERB elections.

Our focus on protecting the rights of homecare workers in Fresno and all SEIU UHW healthcare workers continues across the state. One tainted election that ultimately may not stand will not alter the facts: SEIU UHW is a strong union with deep resources and 150,000 members, and we have already won many prior fights to keep thousands of our members – namely at Kaiser, CHW, Alameda Hospital and elsewhere.

Make no mistake: The Doctors election was tainted. The PERB has issued three separate charges – two against management and one against NUHW – that make it clear that both the employer and NUHW acted illegally during the election. These complaints are very serious and may overturn the results of the election on appeal. The employer clearly wanted NUHW. According to PERB, management allowed NUHW organizers full access to the hospital floors while greatly restricting the access of SEIU UHW organizers. PERB also found that NUHW illegally instructed workers to hand ballots to NUHW supporters. This is a clear violation of the law and undermines the integrity of the voting process.

Contrast that with the Alameda Hospital experience. Alameda was the only other public hospital previously scheduled for a representation election. Hospital administrators stayed neutral, the members were able to build a strong internal organization, and they bargained a strong contract (You mean this contract?) – a contract finalized after NUHW was forced to withdraw their challenge because they had no support.

After we do our job, the story will be different in Fresno too. The 10,000 SEIU UHW homecare workers won’t be distracted by management collusion. In the face of California’s dire economic condition, Fresno workers know that they need:

* A powerful 150,000 member SEIU UHW
* In unison with 700,000 California SEIU members
* Supported by the 2million member strong SEIU-UHW to beat back the drastic cuts they face.

Finally, we will be protesting the tainted Doctors election. The NUHW election results may be written in sand, but they are not etched in stone.

Kim Evon
Deputy Trustee, SEIU-UHW
We have to remember here that when SEIU sent out the advisory ballot back in December of 2008, the question asked was fatally flawed, asking everyone in 521, 6434 and UHW whether they wanted a) all LTC workers to be yanked out of 521 and 6434 and UHW and plunked into a new local with appointed leadership, or b) ALL healthcare workers of 521, 6434, and UHW plunked into a new statewide mega-local with appointed leadership. The results of that election were as predictable as the sunrise - not only did people overwhelmingly NOT return their ballots, SEIU received protest cards and letters from people objecting to the premise of the election at a rate six times that of all the ballots returned from SEIU. In all, less than 8% of the eligible ballots were returned, while in excess of 45% of the eligible voters indicated by protest or letter that they wished neither of the options that SEIU was offering.

In a presser, SEIU International flacks tried to characterize that vote as a "celebration of union democracy," even though only 8% of the eligible voters actually voted, but 48% objected to the premise of the question.

And so it goes with the results from yesterday. SEIU has to do something, anything to obscure the facts on the ground about what happened. What they cannot get around, though, is this one fact: When given the opportunity to make their voices heard, only 24 out of 290 eligible voters opted to continue representation by Zombie UHW.

That result above is not written in sand, it's written in purple blood.

NUHW out-hustled SEIU, they out-organized SEIU, and at the end of the day NUHW just had a better message for the workers than did SEIU. Telling everyone you can find that you are part of the biggest, most powerful union in the world is great - but when you have a proven track record of not using that power to the benefit of your dues-paying members, eventually the word is going to get out. The only place where SEIU is winning is in the governmental bureaucracy in their continued efforts to block the voices of the actual members. Folks, that's not representation - that's obstruction. And of late, obstruction is the ONLY thing that SEIU is good at.

SEIU would do well to retune its message to its membership, because they are compiling a string of losses that is going to make a lot of people wonder just how powerful the Purple Plague really is, and whether or not it's just really a great, big, Purple Paper Tiger.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Zombie UHW Response to Defeat...

Oy, vey. They just can't take defeat gracefully, can they?

OAKLAND, Calif., May 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU UHW) is protesting the recent decision by the California Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) to allow the decertification election at Doctors Medical Center (DMC) in San Pablo to continue. The PERB issued its ruling in the face of clear violations of labor law by DMC management and organizers of NUHW, which is seeking to decertify SEIU UHW at the hospital.

"Management gave NUHW a free hand to organize in our hospital and to confuse our members about who their union really was," says Martha Torrentes an EVS at Doctors. "The same people who failed to help us get a new contract last year are now abusing the law to win a tainted election."

Sure, Zombies. It's okay when Kaiser and CHW and Sutter and DoC staffers block any kind of access for NUHW partisans, but when the folks at Doctors did NOT do so, that's when you cry foul?
The PERB has issued three separate charges -- two against management and one against NUHW -- that make it clear that both the employer and NUHW acted illegally during the election. These complaints are very serious and may overturn the results of the election on appeal. The employer clearly wanted NUHW. According to PERB, management allowed NUHW organizers full access to the hospital floors while greatly restricting the access of SEIU UHW organizers.
The people "restricting the access of SEIU UHW organizers" were the people that SEIU UHW were trying to organize, as can be seen below:

Still and all, it's nice to see SEIU having to now be on the ass-end of an appeals process.
"Everyone knows why management supports NUHW," says Jose Quinto, who works in the hospital's surgical operation. "They know they will be the ones who benefit when their workers are the only members of their own union and have no resources or clout."
Yo, Jose - everyone also knows why management supports NUHW- that's because their employees support NUHW as well, and since they actually want to have an environment where patient care comes first and warfare between management and labor comes last, it behooves the management folks to actually listen to what the rank-and-file are saying - which is that they want out of SEIU.
Adding to the damage, the PERB also found that NUHW illegally instructed workers to hand ballots to NUHW supporters. This is a clear violation of the law and undermines the integrity of the voting process. NUHW has a history of ethical violations: They misused members' money when they were in office; they harmed the union's ability to represent the workers once they left office; and they have now illegally interfered with an election.
The only thing that NUHW interfered with was the SEIU plan to take over the union destiny of 300 workers at Doctors Hospital, who have made it clear that they DO NOT WANT The Purple Plague to be their representative.


The staff at Doctors Hospital in San Pablo have officially checked out of Hotel California, and have checked themselves into some fancy new digs!

Folks, this vote wasn't even close. It went as follows:

NUHW - 158 (79.4%)
SEIU - 24 (12.1%)
No Representation - 7 (3.5%)
Void ballots - 8 (4.%)
Challenged - 2 (1%)

The number of eligible voters in this election was approximately 300, and NUHW got an absolute majority of all eligible voters, and not just the landslide majority of those who voted (6-to-1 ratio of NUHW-to-SEIU, by the way).

I'm still looking for the SEIU reaction to this absolute punking they received at the hands of NUHW. I'm sure that Baghdad Michelle will have lots to say about this one, right? (/sarc)

There's really only one thing that The Purple Plague can say about the outcome of this fight:

Bottom line: In the first direct contest between NUHW and SEIU, it is NUHW who has emerged victorious.

Now it is time to take this momentum and carry it on to the fight down in Fresno, such that we can show Our Glorious Maximum Leader what a "death knell" really looks like.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How Do You Spell "Judas"? C-N-A...

Hold on to your huevos, folks, because Sierra's going on a rant here...

At the beginning of the Great California Union Foodfight, the prior officials of UHW who broke off and formed NUHW were receiving material and much-appreciated support from the California Nurses Association. At that time, the CNA was embroiled in a years-long feud with SEIU over who was best to organize nurses around the country.

Well, back in late March, to the surprise of just about everybody in the labor world, and with no notice to NUHW whatsoever about what was going on, CNA and SEIU came to a truce. Not much was written in the meantime about what the thought processes were inside CNA that would bring them to common cause with an organization that bused in thugs to break up an appearance by their president, RoseAnn Demoro, in Dearborn, MI, back in April of 2008. (By the way, a shout-out goes to Chief SEIU Thug Dave Regan for that little piece of "union democracy in action")

The folks at Labor Notes evidently still have a cozy relationship with CNA/NNOC, so much so that one of their reporters, Mark Brenner, got an interview with CNA's co-president, Deborah Burger, in this month's issue of Labor Notes. Ms. Burger, speaking I can only presume in her capacity as co-president of CNA, and therefore as a part of the decision-making inner circle of that organization, let everyone in the labor community know just how obtuse and out-of-touch she is with reality - and just how easily her organization was able to bring itself to collect 30 pieces of silver in order to betray their former comrades-in-arms at NUHW...

LN: How did you move so quickly to reach an accord?

DB: Because we understand what our bigger goal is. We could keep feuding forever, or we could come to an understanding about jurisdiction and say, that is the past, let’s move on. Especially when you look at the organizing opportunities with the Employee Free Choice Act and with the new administration not being as antagonistic. Nurses are very practical and they understand the bigger picture.

And I think it was mainly because Andy Stern also realized, “Look, I can either continue fighting with these nurses, or I can look at the bigger picture and see that I get two-thirds, they get a third, and we’re done.”

And it isn’t a small accomplishment for us. We have exclusive jurisdiction on all nursing issues in nursing practice.

LN: Why is that important?

DB: We won’t have anybody undermining, say, our ratios bill [that mandates specific nurse-patient ratios in California]. At one point SEIU was trying to water down the ratio bill, putting forward ratios for all health care workers. We’ll fight with the employers to make sure we have the support staff we need, but when it really comes down to scope of practice, doing the medications, doing the assessments, they need to be RN ratios.

LN: What are the key advantages for CNA in this new accord?

DB: The obvious one is the end of this ongoing war with SEIU. Then we’ve agreed that when it comes to facing the employer, we will present a united front on key principles and not undermine each other’s positions on working conditions, benefits, all those kinds of things.

It frees up a huge amount of time that would be used on internal fighting amongst ourselves to go out and organize and fight the employer. Of course, with Andy, he has a unique way of dealing with the employer, but it is to his advantage to have us as an ally because we’re not afraid of speaking out against an employer.

LN: Is this going to change CNA’s approach to striking deals with employers?

DB: No, because in the agreement they don’t interfere with our internal structure, programs, and campaigns, and we don’t interfere with theirs. So the employer knows that when they’re dealing with CNA, nothing has changed in that respect.

We’re not changing our approach to the employer, our approach to politicians, to single payer. That’s the beauty of the deal. We did not have to compromise our core principles in order to have this treaty.

I can only figure that the only way CNA did not compromise its core principles is that CNA did not have any to begin with.

LN: From the rank-and-file level how did people react? One month you have a cover story on your magazine with an SEIU label on a purple poison bottle, and now there is this deal. Was it confusing?

DB: Nurses are very practical. But they understand that when there is a core principle that we need to fight for, we’ll take on anyone. We’ll take on our own employers, which is not a comfortable position to be in. If you’re a nurse in some of these communities you can get blackballed. So nurses understand taking a stand and being in a very uncomfortable position.

We’ve kept them informed on all the issues. Our nurses that are our elected leaders are also working nurses. I work at Kaiser 20 hours a week. So we have a unique position, relating to nurses in our facilities. So when we say we’re at war with SEIU because they’re going to Ohio and they’ve cut this sweetheart deal where they’re going to get the nurses, our nurses say, “Wait a minute.”

So when we said we struck a treaty with Andy, they go, “OK, that’s good. But is there an escape clause? Can you trust him?” They are saying, “Let’s move forward with our eyes wide open.” And they trust us as leaders because we have not come back and said, “Oops, we messed up and you’re all having massive takeaways and massive layoffs as a result of the deal we cut.”

If this individual has, as she said, spent 20 hours a week inside a Kaiser facility with the rank-and-file members of Zombie UHW who are now stuck in Hotel California, then for her to even contemplate the prospect of trusting Andy Stern or his minions suggests to me that she quite possibly should have her nursing license suspended on the basis of wanton blindness to anything and everything around her.

That's assuming, of course, that she is not utterly full of crap when she says that she spends 20 hours a week as a nurse in the Kaiser Santa Rosa Medical Center.

LN: How is the agreement going to work logistically in terms of coordinating with SEIU nurses?

DB: It’s complex trying to meld organizations because of the culture and the leadership and making sure everybody has a voice at the table. There are, I’m sure, nurses in SEIU that feel that they’re well represented. They’re trying to see how they fit into that structure. It’s like two separate families with kids getting married. It’s like you aren’t the youngest any more, you have to give up certain privileges and rights you had in one family structure to move into a new family.

The thing that will help us work together is that we have a common language that we use when we’re taking care of patients, when we’re fighting the employer for patient protections. In some states the protections for nurses and other health care workers in calling out patient abuses or unsafe hospital conditions are not as strong as they are in California as a result of our work. Being able to work on the ratio campaign, being able to work on comparable worth and whistleblower protections--there will be those projects that we’ll be able to bring them in on, so that they won’t feel like they are outsiders anymore. It’s more the formal structures that we have to figure out.

Let's get this on the record right now: With Andy Stern driving this bus, it's gonna be him that does the "figuring" in this relationship. But do go on...

LN: I imagine there is some work to do on the SEIU side. At the SEIU convention last summer, SEIU nurses had plenty to say about the CNA.

DB: You are at war and you say things at war that you can’t really say when you’ve worked out a treaty.

That's probably why CNA tried so desperately to make all of their anti-SEIU propaganda disappear. Too bad other organizations besides yours were taking note of what was going on between CNA and SEIU. And when in doubt, there's always the Google cache and the Wayback Machine.

LN: Lots of folks in the labor movement saw conditions over the last year pushing CNA and UHW, now NUHW, closer. There was lots of speculation about what this could mean nationally. What are the implications of your deal with SEIU for the efforts of NUHW activists to leave SEIU?

DB: We’ve had a long-term relationship with UHW. Part of it goes way back to the Summit Hospital strike, where we were striking to make sure that workers could honor picket lines. We’ve worked with them extremely closely. We’ve developed personal relationships with lots of leaders there. When we were going through our own struggle to take control of our union, and when the old CNA leadership fired our labor staff—they virtually gutted our collective bargaining program—Local 250 (UHW's predecessor) supported us. They provided us office space and and support. This allowed us to play it out in the courts with a lawyer that did brilliant pro bono work for us. So there is a loyalty there that we can’t sever because we made this deal with Andy Stern.

We are constrained by the agreement not to provide any financial assistance to NUHW and we’re honoring that commitment. But by the same token, at the facilities nurses are supporting their co-workers and their ability to get the representation of their choice. We’re making sure we don’t interfere with that. And we’re not obligated by the terms of our agreement with SEIU to interfere with that, so we are keeping hands off. Nurses who choose to help NUHW at the facility level can continue to do so. We’re not saying, “you can’t do that.”

We certainly do hope that somehow they do come to some agreement. It certainly looks like there is a lot of testosterone flying around right now. I have to think that both sides have what they perceive as principled stands.

I really don't want to bring out the WTF cat on this one, but this almost begs for that to be done. Instead, I will provide for Ms. Burger an example of all of the "testosterone flying around right now" on the NUHW side of the issue:

Wow. That's some dosage of testosterone there. I'd better get a progesterone shot in order to counteract it, otherwise I'm gonna be forced to go kill me a deer and eat it raw.

Moving on...

LN: Do you see this as a missed opportunity for you to form a national alliance with a health care union that has more in common with your vision of health care organizing than SEIU does?

DB: I haven’t seen it as a missed opportunity yet. Because I don’t see that we’ve totally blocked us working with NUHW. If NUHW and SEIU could eventually bury the hatchet, then we’d be able to work with both groups.

If you have to believe that both parties, as you said before, are operating from principled stands, then how can there be any kind of accommodation that would allow you to work with both groups? The only way that Andy Stern is going to bury the hatchet with Sal Rosselli is if he buries the hatchet in Sal's forehead. He's as much as said so, proclaiming that the Fresno IHSS fight will be the NUHW's "death knell." That doesn't suggest to me someone who is looking to compromise.

Quite bluntly, CNA has sided with SEIU, therefore they are the standing enemy of NUHW in my eyes. I will never, ever trust a CNA rep, because they've already proven that they can turn around and stab me (and my union brothers and sisters) in the back at the merest hint of what they perceive to be a better deal for themselves.

LN: The reason people raise this is because, as you know when you left the ANA yourselves, there is a window in which things take time to sort themselves out because of the way labor law works, the way the courts work. There is a real question mark in the early moments of these fights about how they are going to go. Finding allies who can provide you with institutional support or money to help with transitional staffing, that can make the difference between survival and not. Some people argue this is that critical time for NUHW.

DB: Getting an all-RN union nationally—getting that from SEIU is no small feat. We, as nurses, are not about to jeopardize that. Because we believe that [NUHW President] Sal Rosselli and Andy Stern can work out their deal.

We understand the politics of the deal we made. But we have to do what’s right for the nursing profession, what’s right for our patients, and that is to form the national nurses union. And in the long run Andy and Sal will do what they need to survive, and other unions will help NUHW. And we’ll all move forward together.

During the Obama campaign labor came together despite all of their fights, when it came to promoting a cause they really believed in. They were able to check the guns at the door. We plan on working together with both groups eventually, because at some point they will come to some kind of agreement.

We’ve been thwarted in trying to get an all-RN union for decades. We can’t let the infighting of two other unions, however principled their fight is, come between us and forming a national nurses union that will speak on behalf of social justice, patient protections, nursing advocacy—all of those things that have been put aside because we belonged to an organization that was essentially funded by the hospital association. However the other politics falls out, we have to keep an eye on the bigger picture, which is single payer.

Jaysus, lady! Have you been paying attention to what Zombie UHW has been doing at the Kaiser facilities up and down the state?!? You are letting your desire to jam single payer down everyone's throat that you are willing to sell out your once and former allies in order to make a temporary gain in an issue that will never, ever, come to pass?

Memo to Deborah Burger: THERE IS NO COMPROMISE! SEIU demands only ONE thing - complete and total capitulation. We, of NUHW, are not going to give it, because unlike you and your organization, we still have principles over which we will fight. Your outfit once was like that, as well.

LN: Under the terms of your deal, SEIU will back single payer at the state level in a few places. But on the national level they’ve been opposed to backing single payer.

DB: What they did say is that they would advocate for trials of single payer in five states. What those five states are we don’t know; it would be nice if California was one of them.

LN: You see the contradiction that people are raising about the deal on single payer?

DB: I do, but there are lots of contradictions. The world is filled with them. The reality is that single payer has been and will always be on our agenda. We won’t compromise on that. We can’t! We’re nurses and we see the problems in our face every single day.

LN: But Stern has been much more pragmatic, arguing that we can’t copy the system from other countries. People read the agreement as putting you in a much more advantageous position around state-level health care policy, but SEIU is still doing what they’ve always done.

DB: People need to stop reading too much into the agreement. It is exactly what it is. We have worked out a détente with Mr. Stern and we will go forward. It does not preclude us from being still out there on our core issues.

We could never have made that agreement if we had to compromise. It would not have happened. Our members wouldn’t let us do it, for one thing. There is too much at stake in a nurse’s daily work life to compromise on that. I could not look my patients in the eye and say, “I sold you out in order to get a national nurses union.”

That is why we organize nurses well, that’s why we have the patient support that we do, that is why we have the community support we do. It’s because we cannot compromise on those principles. Andy Stern knows that. Our employers know that.

You cannot have principles if you are willing to sell them to the likes of Andy Stern. Once you have crossed that line, there is NO TURNING BACK, no matter how much you like to frame the issue.

LN: Can the pact last?

DB: There are so many forces that are aligning right now to advance both unions, to advance unions in general. This is an opportunity, and shame on us if we miss it.

Your alignment with Andy Stern, and away from NUHW, has set your organization back several steps in the eyes of the labor world, and the shame that you have bestowed upon yourselves now and in the future will only grow greater as NUHW grows and lets everyone know that, at its moment of decision based on principle, CNA sold out to Andy Stern and his 30 pieces of silver.

When that realization comes to you, perhaps then you will know shame like you have never before experienced in your life.

And you will only have yourselves to blame.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Lady Looks Good In Red

Nation's biggest labor battle coming to Fresno; Dolores Huerta sides with NUHW homecare providers at Wednesday rally

United Farm Workers co-founder supports vote for National Union of Healthcare Workers in election for 10,000 workers to quit SEIU

WHEN: 12:00 NOON Wednesday, May 20, 2009

RESCHEDULED TO: 12:00 NOON Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WHERE: Eaton Plaza, M St. & Mariposa St. in downtown Fresno

In two weeks, 10,000 Fresno homecare providers will vote in what one journalist has called "the most important union election in the country." Providers asked the County to schedule the election so they can join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) and quit the Washington, D.C.-based SEIU, a union stained by corruption scandals that has failed to protect their wages against devastating cuts by the County and State. Hundreds will rally on Wednesday to call for a vote for NUHW, so that homecare providers can stay united with other healthcare workers at hospitals and Kaiser Permanente.

United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta—who directed the historic grape boycott that brought national attention to the plight of Fresno farm workers—will stand in support of Fresno homecare providers' effort to win their independence from SEIU.

In a desperate attempt to stop workers from leaving, SEIU has resorted to using paid outsiders to harass providers at their homes and workplaces. They are expected to send more than 500 out-of-town staff into Fresno just days before the election.

(Source: NUHW E-Blast)


I'm hoping for some good turnout down Fresno way next Wednesday - the heat down in the 559 should have abated somewhat by then, and it would be damn nice to see a sea of red welcoming Ms. Huerta to the NUHW fold during the Fresno IHSS fight. All who can make it, please do so.

And for those that do make it, pictures and reports would be most welcome. The E-mail address is "sierraspartan(at)gmail(dot)com." I will be scanning the FresBee for details next Thursday morning.

SEIU 1021 Foot Targeting, Continued...

Randy Shaw of has gotten a hold of the SEIU 1021 vote failure of last week, and pretty much sees the fault as lying in the inability of SEIU to provide enough staff to actually bring the vote home - but also suggests (as many around these parts suspect) that there is a growing disaffection for Our Glorious Maximum Leader and the SEIU brand in general...
When rank and file workers reject contracts, it’s often because the bargaining team negotiated a bad deal. But SEIU Local 1021 workers defeated a contract that kept their 3.75% wage increase, delayed new rounds of layoffs until after a November election could make them unnecessary (assuming revenue measures passed), and only eliminated eleven days of holiday pay over the next two years.

Considering that San Francisco is enduring a fiscal crisis that denies the city’s nonprofit workers any raises for a second straight year, and that requires many nonprofit layoffs, what SEIU negotiators accomplished was astounding. They leveraged a Mayor who needs their political support for his Governor’s race into a tremendous labor contract.

But the rank and file rejected it. Here’s why.

San Francisco can be like a small town. People see politicians in restaurants or on the street, and there is a sense of community here absent from many cities.

Unionized workers are part of this tight-knit community. Many SEIU Local 1021 members working in San Francisco have friends and/or family affiliated with either UNITE HERE Local 2, or the former leadership of SEIU-UHW.

Such SEIU 1021 members are angry with their parent union for its fights with these entities. This anger was stoked by the new NUHW (Sal Rosselli’s deposed former UHW team), which actively lobbied 1021 members to reject the contract; members with UNITE HERE connections did not have to be lobbied – anger against SEIU over their attacks on the local hotel union is already at a fever pitch.

When I told Andy Stern back in March that SEIU would face major blowback if they challenged UNITE HERE, he responded that this might apply to West Coast progressives, but that East Coast progressives backed the faction of UNITE HERE that has since affiliated with SEIU as “Workers United.”

Putting aside the correctness of Stern’s East Coast analysis, the SEIU President clearly foresaw major progressive opposition in San Francisco to SEIU attacks on UNITE HERE. He also knew that Sal Rosselli’s leadership team had progressive Bay Area support, and that NUHW was seeking to make inroads among Local 1021 members.

So SEIU’s international leadership should have anticipated that many Local 1021 members were angry with their union, and would oppose any contract without significant internal organizing and persuasion. An extra special effort would be needed to restore Local 1021 members’ confidence in the SEIU brand.

But SEIU took no special efforts. It devoted no resources to hiring members – known as “lost-timers”— to convince fellow members of the contract’s merits. Nor did the union engage in the massive pro-contract rallies that they used in the past, despite knowing that the SEIU brand was facing a member revolt.
The above passage should serve as a glaring warning to everyone who is a member of SEIU who is not part of Nice Scarf's "favored" East Coast locals, that eventually SEIU is going to come to a point where they either have to do the job that you dues-paying members have been paying them to do, or abdicate and pray that the SEIU "brand" will carry the day.

And going from the recent examples that we have seen down at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, and now in the City and County of San Francisco, we now see that those SEIU members on the West Coast who put their faith in Andy had better not put that faith to the test.

Update on 5-19 @4:20 p.m.: A passage above has caught the eye of some folks in NUHW, and they have issued a statement concerning this article on BeyondChron:
Randy Shaw's otherwise insightful post about SEIU Local 1021's rejection of its tentative agreement with the Newsom administration contains the serious misstatement that NUHW, "actively lobbied 1021 members to reject the contract."

This is categorically false. At no time and in no way did NUHW attempt to influence the vote of SEIU Local 1021 members on the agreeement. While some Local 1021 members have voiced concerns to us about the low level of member participation in negotiations and the agreement's lack of layoff protections over its entire term - which could result in workers being forced back to the table for another round of concessions in only a matter of months - NUHW took no action to urge its rejection.

In the context of the current fiscal crisis, it is important that public employees and the City and County of San Francisco try to reach some agreement, however difficult, in order to avoid devastating consequences for providers and recipients of healthcare and human services, in both the public sector and the non-profit sector. We can only hope, along with Shaw, that in the next chapter of this saga, SEIU's misplaced priorities will not prevent Local 1021 from engaging its members fully in the negotiation process, achieving an agreement that provides workers sufficiently secure jobs and standards in exchange for providing the City and County temporary economic relief, and discussing and debating the agreement transparently and thoroughly, in a way that will win workers' confidence in the negotiating committee's recommendation.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

SEIU Ineptitude, Arizona Style...

Back around the middle of March, a group of county employees in Pinal County, Arizona, filed for recognition of SEIU as their labor bargaining agent. To commemorate this momentous occasion, seven people (that's right, seven) gathered together at the Pinal County administration building in Florence, AZ, to submit their petitions. We even had video coverage of the groundswell of public support for ever-expanding Purple Plague...

This anemic showing on the part of the petition supporters should have been an indication of the final result...

The votes have been tallied in the election process for an authorized employee organization to represent the office and clerical employees (SEIU) and the Deputies and Detention Officers of Pinal County (PCDA).

For those who voted in the office and clerical area, the number of no votes were greater than the number in favor. SEIU will not be representing the employees in this area.

In the election process for Deputies representation, a majority voted to be represented by the Pinal County Deputies Association.

The final results will be presented to the Board of Supervisors as soon as it can get scheduled.

SEIU 1021 Aims Carefully, Shoots Self In Foot...

One of the important parts of running a union is making sure that everyone has the information necessary to make an informed decision when it comes to voting on contract matters.

Recently, the members of SEIU 1021 had an opportunity to take such a vote in the City and County of San Francisco, where Gavin "Goodhair" Newsom is attempting to close a fair-to-middlin'-sized hole in the budget. In order to do this, he needed to get some concessions back from one of the main public employee unions, that being SEIU 1021. Regrettably for Mayor Goodhair, the rank-and-file at 1021 rejected the proposal, which included some additional furlough days as well as adjustments in the holiday structure.

It looks now like Goodhair will instead be forced to institute layoffs, and his staffers are not being bashful in the least about indicating who they feel is to blame for this upcoming debacle...

Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard blamed the layoffs - which will affect workers in most city unions - squarely on Service Employees International Union Local 1021. SEIU represents more than 11,000 city employees.

That union voted 56 percent to 44 percent this week to reject an agreement negotiated by union leaders that included keeping a 3.75 percent pay increase. But the deal would have eliminated holiday pay for 11 days in 2009 and 2010 - though workers would still receive time and a half if they worked holidays and would get to accrue nine floating holidays. The deal also would have meant no layoffs until after Nov. 15.

There was more than $38 million at stake: City officials thought that if SEIU agreed to contract concessions, other unions would follow suit, saving the city a total of $90 million. Much of that money would have come from delaying or canceling planned raises.

"Because SEIU (1021) didn't ratify the deal, now we have to scramble to balance the budget, and unfortunately that means layoffs," Ballard said. "Everyone needs to do their fair share, and unfortunately the sensible tentative agreement we had entered into with SEIU fell apart."

Some of the fun can now be seen in reading the commentary threads on, including a little bit of old-fashioned Haterade being directed at The Plague from its own members...
once again, bad leadership reprenting the masses have jeopordized hundreds of families and likely has lengthened the soup lines city wide. nice work SEIU glad to see you had your memberships best interest at heart over the politics as usual mentality. It's no wonder unions are basically useless these days.
SEIU is a horrible, horrible union. Their interests are in lining the pockets of the union "leaders." Silence and keeping information from those they are supposed to represent is standard practice in that union. I ought to know, I'm a member. I do not work for the city, but SEIU is currently negotiating with my employer, and they have instructed those on the bargaining team not to tell the rank and file what is being discussed. This from the people who force me to join their union and take money from every paycheck I earn. Based on my direct experience as an SEIU member, the blame for this should be laid at the union doorstep. They have done a lot to further the loss of respect towards unions.
The tentative agreement between the City and SEIU went down because it was designed for failure. The bulk of the rank and file of SEIU 1021 are basic people trying to feed their families. The agreement they were asked to vote on was unnecessarily complex, inflammatory in asking people to give up all their paid holidays instead of asking for furlough days which would have evoked less emotion. A few simple tweaks would have turned a close vote positive.
I was a City employee for 20 years and a member of this Union for 20 years. This is one of the worst Unions in the City! They do ABSOLUTELY nothing for member. All of the business reps make more than the majority of the members and DO NOTHING for it. This is a real shame. May be the business reps will take a pay cut too or be laid off.
Very bad job by SEIU - they sure aren't earning that money they pull out of peoples' paychecks. I and five colleagues "represented" by SEIU 1021 didn't even knew when or how to vote in this. The only information we ever received about these negotiations were from our managers a month ago and we were told a vote would happen. I guess it did - while we were working...
1021 only wants the dues from the members, no interest in what the members want. 1021 couldn't get it's own dog out of the pound. time for all 1021 members to switch unions! local 21, are you listening?
Union rank and file, learned of the proposals barely a week before the vote and the wording made no sense to most members. Explanatory meetings were held but no notice was given, no directions given to where the meetings were being held and when members finally found the meeting, the room was too small to accomodate. Blame the union heads for this failing. They didnt clearly explain why a "yes" vote was necessary. Additionally, blame old workers who need a golden handshake-they voted no because they are safe from layoffs due to seniority and only care about retiring. They should be allowed to retire immediately to save younger, more productive workers....
Good work SEIU! From your pathetic attempt to make your members more money, you have just got hundreds fired. And since all the other unions were going to follow suit with 1021, you have helped in getting more city employees lose their jobs. I hope you ignorant party bosses get mugged by one of your former members one night!
I am a city employee for SEIU 1021 and pretty low on the totem poll. I voted yes for the cuts so that people would not lose their jobs-YET. Why did it not pass? because the union members were lied to, given incorrect information from ill-informed union reps and every time they gave us a revised agreement it was worse and worse. We get 9 paid holidays not 30-get the facts straight before spewing out lies please. Maybe instead of cutting services to the people who are paying the taxes we should cut back on things like Healthy SF that give free (and in most cases it is FREE) to illegal aliens who do NOT pay taxes. Making SF a sanctuary city was one of the dumbest mistakes EVER. Are the supervisors getting pay cuts or for that matter the Mayor? I totally agree with getting a new union-we need someone that is looking out for us, not for themselves! Most people i know in the union were willing to make the concessions when the first 2 agreements came out-too bad they didnt let us vote then...
One has to wonder how much attention to detail is being taken away from the organizers of SEIU 1021 because of the UHW Trusteeship fight.

A quick check of the 1021 website to get their side of the story results in the following...

I honestly feel pity for the people in 1021 for being so ill-served.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ground Zero: Fresno

Cal Winslow in this week's Counterpunch lays out the NUHW versus SEIU fight from soup to nuts, and ties together several threads that have come forth, from the Trusteeship, to SEIU's double-dealing and collusion with KaiPerm and CHW in the NLRB petitions, to the out-of-town idiocy displayed by the Zombie SEIU scab staffers, and absolutely lays SEIU out for the count:
The fundamental issues in the Fresno contest are clear then – the NUHW, if it wins this election, will maintain and build on standards fought for and won by members of the now wrecked UHW, including restoring recent Fresno County proposed wage cuts, while fighting for healthcare benefits for all, and challenging state caps on wages and benefits and a system that perpetuates for these workers a cycle of permanent poverty. Andy Stern has predicted that Fresno will be the “death knell” for NUHW. On the contrary, an SEIU win could be the “death knell” for the home care workers. SEIU has already lost in arbitration and conceded the County’s wage cut demands. SEIU sent in staff from out of state, led by Rebecca Malberg, a DC staffer who didn’t know the contract, had never handled a grievance and never witnessed an arbitration. SEIU refused to allow the members’ local bargaining team to attend arbitration hearings. Since the arbitration ruling in favor of the County, the SEIU has refused to share the findings with members, but it still calls the secret contract a “victory.”
That's just a taste - read the whole damn thing!

Ten Thousand Quatloos to Mr. Cal Winslow, a gentleman who has been there and has seen that in the labor movement going back several decades, and who makes it clear that it is NUHW who is on the side of the workers, and it is SEIU who is on the side of the bosses.