Monday, September 7, 2009

Peering Into Andy's Purple Future

Herman Benson has once again given us a peek at what Our Glorious Maximum Leader has in store for the American Labor Movement, once he gets his grimy paws on the pursestrings...

Putting it together: Any local which "voluntarily" refuses to cede control over collective bargaining to the council, can be financially starved of the resources necessary to conduct its own effective collective bargaining and so forced into submission. It can't happen here, you will say? Then you don't know where Stern is taking the SEIU.

The locals have no right to their own money. The council president is endowed with sweeping financial powers. He or she is authorized to hire and fire and direct the whole council paid staff and set their rate of pay and to retain attorneys, accountants, and other consultants. The president is insulated from membership control.

Because the council is an intermediary body, not a local, the president, despite those enormous powers, is not elected by the membership but by a delegated body, in this case by the council executive board. After their four-year appointive term is up, executive board members will be elected by the locals, but that status does not give them a paid job. The president's power of the purse extends even to those who have the constitutional power to elect him or her. An executive board member depends upon the president for a paid staff job.

In the old style SEIU, the now-familiar mega locals remain formally autonomous; they collect and retain dues; their members elect local officers; they are responsible for organizing, collective bargaining, processing trials and charges --- all the authority and responsibility traditionally vested in local unions remains. With the new California janitors council, the role of locals is transformed. To sum it up:

The council takes over dues and assessments. As required by federal law, after the appointive term has ended local members will be permitted to elect local officers, but not necessarily to pay them. Money for all salaries, including for elected local officers, depends upon decision of the council. Who pays the piper calls the tune. Without independent access to money, local members lose control over their own locals. The handling of grievances and the processing of charges and trials are removed a greater distance away from the membership. The council dominates the locals; the international president, through his appointive power, dominates the council.
As they say, read the rest.

It gives Andy Stern's penchant for control a whole new level of focus.

Anyone who believes in democracy should avoid SEIU like the (purple) plague.

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