Friday, May 1, 2009

An Offer He Can't Refuse...

Our Glorious Maximum Leader, in a letter co-signed with Edgar Romney of Workers United and Bruce Raynor (soon to be formerly) of UNITE/HERE, has made an offer to John Wilhelm of UNITE/HERE, an offer which Stern and his buddies feel that Wilhelm will not be able to refuse...
April 30, 2009

John Wilhelm
1775 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

Dear John:

Our Challenge

We met today at the 100-day mark of the Obama Administration. Our country faces a wide range of new opportunities to transform the lives of working Americans. Our members expect and are counting on us to help the Administration succeed.

We are also at a time where after several years of efforts—including two formal processes with independent mediators as well as significant bi-lateral discussions—our unions have not been able to resolve either the internal differences between the leaders of UNITE and HERE or to find a shared understanding on how to move forward in the wake of the creation of Workers United and its affiliation with SEIU.

The dissolution of the merger of UNITE HERE was not the outcome anyone dreamed of, but legally, politically and practically it is a reality, we believe, we must all accept.

Moving Forward

There are now at least two ways to resolve the well-established outstanding issues of organizing jurisdiction, division of assets, and units where representation is still contested:

  1. Negotiation. We have continued to take advantage of the advice of Joe Hansen in his role as mediator. We put forward to you today a comprehensive settlement offer that recognizes UNITE HERE’s core jurisdiction and the leading union of hotel and gaming employees, provides UNITE HERE with a substantial financial package that allows it to remain a viable international union, and seeks to definitively resolve which union (Workers United/SEIU or UNITE HERE) that members in disputed areas will be a part of going forward. To date these discussions have not been successful, and we believe we must consider continued negotiations as you have proposed as well as other alternatives.
  2. Arbitration. We are prepared now or if the negotiation process is not successful, to submit all outstanding issues to an independent third party for a final-offer arbitration process. We appreciate that in any dispute there are two points of view and believe that the use of an independent third party is necessary to make a final determination if we cannot do it amongst ourselves.
We are also prepared to unilaterally take four very important steps to demonstrate the sincerity of our position. Obviously, we would expect UNITE HERE to do the same.
  1. No raiding commitment. In the interim, and in all of the alternatives, we are willing to continue to comply with the provisions of the CTW Constitution regarding no-raiding and will ask the Change to Win Presidents to immediately appoint a permanent, mutually-acceptable arbitrator who would be empowered to expeditiously settle all questions of raiding. We will abide by all decisions.
  2. Cease membership contact. In addition, we are unilaterally ceasing any contact with the approximately 200,000 uncontested members of UNITE HERE.
  3. Respect organizing campaigns. We are unilaterally willing to not interfere with any new UNITE HERE organizing efforts.
  4. Employer relations. We are agreeing not to disrupt any existing employer relationships as it relates to existing contracts, contract negotiations and dues deduction in all undisputed jurisdictions.
To reiterate, we believe there are two viable alternatives for resolution of our strongly held differences all of which can lead to a thoughtful conclusion of our dispute. We are willing to attempt to finalize negotiations, and if that is not successful, we are willing to submit to arbitration as soon as feasible.

We believe the time is now to focus on the opportunities in front of our members and our country and ask for you to join us in making America a place where the dreams of our members and all Americans still can come true.


Edgar Romney
Workers United

Bruce Raynor
General President

Andy Stern
Say what you want about the Purple Plague, but they sure do have some chutzpah. SEIU raids UNITE/HERE, breaks off a faction by means less than entirely legal, tries to move in on UNITE/HERE's main asset (the Amalgamated Bank) after having taken out a gargantuan loan from that bank prior to the raid, and then turn around and offer binding arbitration as a means of sealing the peace.

And as a "sweetener", they offer a "no raiding commitment" - with the definition of a "raid" to be determined by the Change to Stern coalition Presidents, of which Stern has a working majority - and to cease member contacts on any "uncontested" UNITE/HERE members, with evidently SEIU alone determining which of those members are "uncontested." Furthermore, they will respect existing organizing campaigns of UNITE/HERE.

The fact that SEIU had to put those sweeteners into the letter says (in my opinion explicitly) that SEIU has, in fact, been engaging in raiding, has been contacting members of other labor organizations, and has been interfering in existing organizing campaigns of UNITE/HERE.

Otherwise, why else would you promise to stop doing what you had already been doing, if what you had already been doing was entirely on the up-and-up?

I hope John Wilhelm doesn't have a horse.

Update 5/2/09: It seems that John Wilhelm is prepared to put the horse's head on the line...
The Service Employees International Union and a newly formed union offered to resolve a long-running and bitter dispute with Unite Here that threatens to distract the unions from engaging on political priorities, including health care and a bill to ease union organizing. But the offer was quickly rejected by the leadership of Unite Here, and the dispute, in which both sides have filed lawsuits, could continue for weeks or months.


Under the proposal, Workers United would also give Unite Here $20 million within two months of the execution of the agreement, and up to $46 million within five years. Each side would retain its pre-merger assets, meaning that Mr. Raynor's faction would retain control of New York-based Amalgamated Bank, the only union-owned bank in the U.S. with $4.6 billion in assets.

On Friday, Mr. Wilhelm called SEIU's offer "disingenuous at best," in a letter to Mr. Stern. He said the proposal "continues to try to hijack Unite Here members," and he rejected the financial offer as "absurd." The latest back and forth between SEIU and Unite Here emerged when mediation by Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, ended this week. Mr. Wilhelm suggested that the two sides use recommendations made by Mr. Hansen , such as letting Unite Here under Mr. Wilhelm retain all of its gaming industry members, as a basis for negotiations.

Mr. Raynor said some members who had previously belonged in Mr. Wilhelm's side of the union now want to belong to the Workers United union affiliated with the SEIU. Since Mr. Hansen's mediation failed, he said, the groups should agree to arbitration rather than letting the matter work itself through the courts, which will take longer.

Ah, so now the finally truth comes out - Workers United (and through them Our Glorious Maximum Leader) wants to get his greasy mitts on the Amalgamated Bank and its $500M or so of assets which now rightfully belongs to UNITE/HERE.


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