Monday, June 1, 2009

Fresno Updates

Click over to Perez' place for Fresno updates from the ground.

One interesting piece came to me from Sadie at NUHW, tho...
Workers fear SEIU’s violent “shock and awe” tactics on Day One of union election

SEIU has been condemned by the AFL-CIO for using violence against other unions—SEIU Trustee with record of violence tells staff,
"We gotta put them in the ground and bury them"

Fresno, Calif.—Today is the first day of a highly contested union election for 10,000 homecare workers in Fresno County who are trying to leave the Washington, D.C.-based SEIU, a union that has been condemned by the AFL-CIO for using violence in inter-union conflicts. The stakes have never been higher for SEIU officials, who are desperately trying to stop a movement of nearly 100,000 healthcare workers in California who are organizing to quit SEIU and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

Current and former SEIU organizers have reported SEIU’s use of so-called “shock and awe” teams to incite violence, including stalking, threatening and intimidating supporters of opposing unions. With 900 paid SEIU staff from across the country in Fresno County today, workers are worried about a repeat of recent violent attacks.

At an SEIU meeting yesterday, SEIU-UHW Trustee Dave Regan encouraged hundreds of SEIU staff to "administer an old-school ass-whipping" to NUHW supporters. "In other words, what we gotta do here, my old-school friends, is we have to administer an old-school ass-whipping over the next two weeks," he said. "I know everybody knows what means. We gotta give a butt-whipping they will never forget," he added. "We gotta put them in the ground and bury them."

Last April, Regan led 300 SEIU staff in storming a peaceful union conference in Michigan, injuring several workers and prompting AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to condemn the assault. "There is no justification—none—for the violent attack orchestrated by SEIU at the Labor Notes conference,” he said.

During the same conflict, an SEIU organizer reported being assigned with a team to mob CNA supporters at California hospitals and scream insults at them to provoke a physical response. SEIU organizers then called police and the media, accusing the victim of assaulting them.

Several Fresno homecare providers have recently reported being harassed with calls to their homes in the middle of the night by callers fraudulently claiming to be with NUHW in an apparent effort to incite false anger at NUHW in the days before the election. Homecare workers are concerned that SEIU staff may also impersonate NUHW supporters to harass workers in person at their homes.

Homecare providers have also reported being threatened by SEIU staff that they will lose their jobs or have their pay or hours cut if they vote to join NUHW, a threat that is illegal under federal labor law.
Of course, it can't be said often enough that Thug Regan, the individual quoted above as wanting to give NUHW a "butt whipping they will never forget", and who wishes to "put (NUHW) in the ground and bury them" is one of the individuals who was responsible for the infamous disruption of the Labor Notes conference in Dearborn, MI, in April of 2008. Regan even bragged on it about a month later. One passage of Regan's "explanation" caught my eye, though:
Union-busting is union-busting and, yes, it is disgusting. If Labor Notes and their apologists want to convince themselves otherwise, through tortured rationalizations about "democracy" or fabricated claims of "violence," so be it. We are having none of it. The votes, which were set to take place in March, would have been the largest set of private sector healthcare elections in the history of the state of Ohio. If the labor movement is to survive we need more, not less, of these sorts of breakthroughs.
Considering the scale at which Kaiser and CHW were going to have elections for their workers to determine their own futures, he really needs to take a look at the NUHW/SEIU dustup and figure out which side is interested in democracy and more democratic breakthroughs, and which side is currently "union-busting."

But it is the height of arrogance for someone of Regan's background, with his proven propensity for instigating violence, to come into a community from outside and start talking to other outsiders about butt-whippings and burying people, when the purpose of what this election is determining who can provide the best representation for a group of people who provide care to one of the most vulnerable segments of our society.

The upcoming two weeks in Fresno is about those workers, and their best interests, and not about SEIU pride.

Dave Regan should be ashamed of himself. But that, of course, would require that he had any kind of sense of shame to begin with.

A link to the unedited Regan speech can be found here.

It probably sounded better in the original German, but you can get the idea.

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