Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nervous Anticipation

Note has been made here and elsewhere of the recent article by Randy Shaw on BeyondChron, in which he states that, because of the alleged increase in the voting turnout generated by SEIU's $10M Mass Campaign of Dishonesty, that they are now expected to win the Fresno IHSS fight. My sources from within NUHW cast grave doubt on this assessment, and insist that if their counts are correct then NUHW should win.

Taking some of the numbers from the Shaw article, he states that NUHW has about "3000 identified supporters" in the Fresno group. He also states that it is expected that the total voting turnout could exceed 7000. On the other hand, when SEIU declared "victory" and pulled out of Fresno with a week to go before ballots were due, they did so claiming that they had over 5000 pledged supporters already having voted.

I have been hesitant to write about this until after all votes had been submitted, because this is a rather coarse way to look at things, but on the bottom line it is votes that count, and the goal in a situation like this is to get above 50% of all votes cast - the trick is figuring out a way to get there.

So let's look at the numbers from the NUHW point of view: If NUHW has 3000 identified supporters, and a total of 7000 people vote, then logic would have it that SEIU only needs to attract a little over 500 of the remaining voting bloc of 4000 - that's 12.5% of the remainder.

With that said, it is unlikely that each and every identified NUHW supporter (using the Shaw numbers) will vote. Quite frankly, human nature is what it is, and not everyone follows through on what they say they are going to do. However, the NUHW crowd is quite enthusiastic about their position and their organization, so it is realistic to think that a 90% turnout amongst NUHW supporters is a feasible number, even though 80% is more likely.

So, that's 2400 reliable votes to NUHW out of 7000 total - leaving a best-case scenario for SEIU of 4600 votes assuming they get 100% of the remainder. Of course, there is no way on God's green earth that this is going to happen (there's going to be vote spoilage, votes for "no union", votes for NUHW in spite of promises to SEIU turf walkers, etc.).

Looking at this from the SEIU point of view, considering what they put out on their website, they absolutely, positively have to get over 5000 votes - because this is what they said that they achieved. Otherwise, all that money and time and energy that they have put out will have gone to a tactical and PR waste. Dave Regan's desire to "drive a stake through the heart of NUHW" will come for naught.

What I suspect (and I may be wrong about this as I thought San Pablo was going to be close as well) is that this is going to be a nail-biter. I think that NUHW's solid, committed numbers are in the upper 2000's to low 3000's, and there is no doubt in my mind that SEIU's people out in the field have been largely telling their organizers back at the fairgrounds what they want to hear (because of their knowledge that SEIU does not brook dissension). I strongly suspect that SEIU's people on the ground have not been entirely truthful to their superiors, because the SEIU claim of having over 5000 people seems to me to be wildly optimistic at best.

Also, some of SEIU's vandalistic activities and staff arrogance did make the media rounds, and this type of behavior is absolutely going to poison the voting pool against SEIU - the only question is to what degree it did so.

One thing that can be depended upon, of course, is that if NUHW does end up winning this fight, SEIU cannot and will not accept defeat in this case. A victory by NUHW confers upon them instant and serious credibility that SEIU will be very hard-pressed to fight. SEIU prides itself on its size and power and basic quality of inevitability.

A NUHW victory will also send a Richter-8 earthquake through the upper echelons of SEIU, because they have put one hell of a lot of money and effort and time and PR into this fight. For SEIU, failure truly is not an option here.

A SEIU victory, however, does not carry the same negative portents for NUHW, becuase the reason why people are aligning themselves with NUHW have not changed. When placed to the test in a confined atmosphere, like a hospital, NUHW frequently piles up 60% to 70% support on petitions, and the only face-to-face vote that SEIU and NUHW have had in a hospital has gone 6-to-1 in favor of NUHW - which is one reason why SEIU is fighting so damn hard not to have elections at those hospitals.

It will also be interesting to see, if UHW wins, how quickly the Fresno IHSS people will be merged into 6434 after being implored to "stay united with UHW". Quite frankly, I figure it will be done within a month.

In any event, we all look forward with nervous anticipation to the vote count to be announced this Friday, and we on the NUHW side should all take pride in the fact that we did our best to make the issues clear, and we also made it possible for the workers to have an actual say in their future. Win, lose or draw, employees having a say in who represents them is always a good thing.

It just sucks that SEIU had to be dragged into this vote kicking and screaming.

Until Friday...

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