Monday, June 22, 2009

Shaw On Fresno: "SEIU's Vietnam?"

Randy Shaw at BeyondChron has weighed in on the Fresno vote, and he has found the SEIU effort wanting...
Just as Vietnam revealed the United States’ inability to impose its will on other nations, Fresno has exposed SEIU’s vulnerability in California. The fact that SEIU had to parachute in so many top staffers from outside California to run its Fresno campaign raises serious questions about the union’s hold on the state – which includes a full third of its entire membership.

Two years ago, Sal Rosselli and Tyrone Freeman were SEIU’s two most powerful California leaders; today, Rosselli heads NUHW and Freeman has departed from SEIU after resigning in disgrace. Tracy Zeloff, SEIU’s longtime State Council leader in California, announced during the Fresno campaign that she was resigning to pursue other interests.

Eliseo Medina and Dave Regan were brought in to run SEIU-UHW after Rosselli’s departure, but Medina has far too many other important responsibilities to focus exclusively on California, and Regan has little if any experience west of Ohio. And after Regan’s widely publicized and embarrassing pre-election call on SEIU organizers to “administer an old-school ass-whipping” to workers who support NUHW, one senses that he should have awaited the Fresno outcome before relocating his family to California.

SEIU is fighting NUHW on the latter’s home turf, and without strong indigenous leadership. That’s why SEIU’s massive effort to break the spirit of NUHW in Fresno made sense – SEIU clearly understood that if NUHW came out of Fresno with a win, or with only a narrow defeat, it was only a matter of time before much of SEIU’s health care and hospital workers voted to leave as well.

And like the United States in Vietnam, SEIU lacks the local leadership to forestall future defeats.
Most everyone who has been studying this whole situation has concluded that NUHW has withstood SEIU's best shot and have come out of Fresno marked, but still standing and ready to fight on. This is indeed a far cry from the result that Thug Regan wished for when he made his call for an "old-school ass whipping."

Perhaps Thug Regan was being inadvertently prophetic when he stated that “this is not an election that we want to win 52 to 48, or by a few hundred votes," because that is precisely what happened down in Fresno - the current margin is a 52-48 percentage "victory" for SEIU (2938 to 2705) and the margin was just over two hundred votes. There are still some votes (90 or so) that are still at issue, and there evidently is also an issue of some 500 or so ballots remaining uncounted, either because of the failure of SMCS to provide replacements for ballots that had "disappeared" or ballots which were taped shut instead of glued shut.

As a rule, I am ordinarily loath to push for legal means to displace the stated intent of voters, even if those voters were misinformed as to the consequences of their actions. To be sure, the SEIU tactics down in Fresno were underhanded at best, maybe even illegal at worst, but I would be hard-pressed to advocate a "legal" remedy to an issue where the voters have spoken - even though I wholeheartedly disagree with what the voters said with their votes.

That's not to say that the Fresno vote should not be appealed and looked over quite carefully. When you have a 200-vote margin, and there are 600 votes that have yet to be determined, there is no way anyone can realistically call the matter closed. The failure of SMCS to provide replacement ballots in adequate time is particularly disturbing, as it would be a simple matter indeed to "block" a NUHW supporter from voting by merely "disappearing" the ballot, which is easily done in rural areas.

The bottom line, though, is this: SEIU had to win this vote, bigtime.

They failed, bigtime.

And to this day, they probably still do not know the reason why they came so close to losing. So long as SEIU maintains this willful ignorance of the will of its subjects, they will continue to have to spend millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours in order to maintain an uneasy status quo that need not have ever happened in the first place.

And SEIU has only themselves to blame for that.


  1. SEIU could barely beat NUHW in Fresno, and yet they want to pick fights with UNITE HERE on OUR turf all around the country? Sad for the labor movement (wasted opportunities) but even sadder for SEIU. They are about to learn how fast their money can burn.

  2. You wrote that SEIU will have to spend more millions of dollars and man-hours "to maintain an uneasy status quo that need not have ever happened in the first place".

    I have witnessed SEIU spend what I believe is a quarter of a billion dollars over a five year period trying to get UHW and 521 homecare workers imprisoned in 6434 - or ULTCWXYZ or whatever they're calling it now.

    I may be underestimating the expenditure.


    At what point do they realize the dollars they plan to steal will not cover the amount they've spent trying to put us in a vulnerable position?

    A normal corporation would have realized by now that their audience isn't buying the product - that we will NOT go into 6434.

    So this goes beyond corruption and incompetence into insanity.

    Thank you for all your wonderful coverage. You have been a really valuable asset to the struggle.

    PS - When you look at their website, ULTCWXYZ (6434) pretty much figures they are the local the rest of us have to blend into. One of their pages refers to CUHW (California United Healthcare Workers). Is that supposed to be UHW? Or UHW-W, as the foreigners like to call it.

    A quarter of a billion dollars, five years and risking the destruction of the empire - surely this is about more than longterm caregivers being in one local. It can't just be money because they're loosing it hand over fist. So what is this really about? Like Viet Nam, we may never know the truth.

    (I hate the term "longterm caregivers" because it implies a prognosis for my patients that sometimes isn't true or helpful.)

  3. Careful. The US had its go in Vietnam way back when, but what lessons did we learn? Far as I can tell the Vietnam experience didn't do much to keep our asses out of Iraq or temper our general contempt for the rest of the world. Just how reasonable do you expect these megalomaniacs to be? How can one assume SEIU cares at all what they spend, lose, or have to steal to win?


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