Friday, June 26, 2009
I was hoping for some hard numbers on Hawkins and Natividad before today, but that was not to be.
I will be checking comment moderation from the field for the next three weeks or so, but since we're coming up in a "lull" where the Great California Union Foodfight is concerned, and since family is more important than blog, the time has come for a vacation.
Keep up the fight. We'll see ya back soon.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The National Union of Healthcare Workers announced its intention to file charges today against rival union Service Employees International Union.Here, kitty-kitty-kitty...
The announcement comes after SEIU won the employee election 2,938 to 2,705.
In an election that brought attention to proposed budget cuts that would affect the wages of health care workers across California, several allegations have been made by NUHW against SEIU, including vandalism, violence and illegal campaign tactics.
“Some of the things I’ve heard (are) just preposterous,” said Dave Regan, an executive vice president with SEIU. “When you lose, and you tell everyone you have to win, there’s wild allegations and sour grapes.”
Sarah Jones, a spokesperson for NUHW said charges will be filed with the California Public Employees Relations Board against SEIU, alleging interference with the voting process. Charges will also be filed against the state mediation service election officer.
Both unions had representatives present to observe the ballot counting — which was done twice.
Erika Monterroza, a public information officer with the State Mediation and Conciliation Service, said 100 to 150 ballots were challenged, but both sides later agreed to drop the challenge. Monterroza said the challenged ballots wouldn’t make a difference in the outcome.
“Throughout the election, SEIU demonstrated an appalling disregard for the truth and the law,” said Jones.
Regan said SEIU is undeterred by the allegations, and the organization will continue to take steps to work for health care workers in the state.
“They predicted a victory and they lost,” Regan said. “They have to figure out a way to talk away the facts.”
Do we remember the 5000-vote prediction? Do we remember Thug Regan stating he didn't want a 52-48 SEIU victory (which it is at least for now)? Do we remember Thug Regan stating he didn't want a SEIU win by a "just a few hundred votes" (when it stands right now at 233)?
Are there any SEIU "facts" that ole Thug Regan wants to walk back from?
Er...Okay, Glorious Maximum Leader, when exactly might that be? Or should I be watching for monkeys flying out of your arse?
SEIU borrows business' anti-union tactics to fend off a rival
The Service Employees International Union alleges that the upstart National Union of Healthcare Workers is intimidating and misleading workers.
By Paul Pringle
June 24, 2009
For years, the powerful Service Employees International Union has played a lead role in the campaign for a landmark federal law that would allow workers to join a labor organization simply by signing petitions.
Now, as part of a high-stakes battle in California, the union is urging federal officials to throw out petitions signed by tens of thousands of its own members who have asked to be represented by a rival upstart group.
The David-vs.-Goliath face-off pits the SEIU, its $300-million annual budget and its legions of staffers, lobbyists and lawyers against a band of about 150 insurgents who are either volunteers or being paid from donations. Most have defected from the SEIU's 2-million-strong ranks.
In lodging legal challenges to the roughly 80 petitions filed by its fledgling competitor, the SEIU has moved to block organizing elections at hospitals, clinics and nursing homes up and down the state. And it has used some of the same tactics that employers often use to thwart union drives.
One of the giant union's allegations echoes a key argument that corporate interests make against the proposed law, the Employee Free Choice Act: that labor activists can intimidate or mislead workers during organizing campaigns.
"The SEIU is advocating free choice for every employee in the United States, unless you're an SEIU member," said John Borsos, an interim vice president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which says it has enough signatures to represent nearly 100,000 employees. "The only reason the SEIU doesn't want elections is that they know they would lose."
SEIU President Andy Stern said his union has a legal responsibility to object to the elections because it believes the leaders of the new group have violated labor laws. He accused them of stalling wage-and-benefit negotiations with employers to keep contracts open and leave the SEIU vulnerable to membership raids.
Stern said his union's actions have not undermined its position on the free choice act.
"There is a policy question and there's a legal question," he said in an interview. "This is a legal proceeding. . . . Ultimately there will be a vote."
The SEIU has turned for help to an agency that it has frequently scorned and whose ways the free choice act aims to reform: the National Labor Relations Board. The union has filed a welter of unfair-practice charges with the board, alleging in part that the new group has restrained and coerced workers in plotting to launch the breakaway organization.So I take it that the "financial improprieties" charge is no longer operative?
The healthcare union says that the charges are frivolous. It has successfully petitioned for three elections outside the labor board's jurisdiction.
Alleging improprieties, the SEIU had sought through the state to block the first vote, to represent employees at a San Pablo hospital, then lost in a rout: 158 to 24. In a second, much-larger election -- for 10,000 home-care workers in the Fresno area -- the SEIU did not ask state officials to halt the balloting. It deployed about 900 people to campaign and won narrowly, 2,938 to 2,705. The new union says it is challenging the Fresno result.
The third election is underway by mail.
Heading the healthcare union are former SEIU officers ousted after their Oakland-based local was removed from their control and placed in the hands of trustees early this year.
The Oakland officers broke with SEIU's leadership after accusing them of weakening the union through forced mergers of locals and sweetheart deals with employers. The SEIU called those complaints a smoke screen, saying the dissidents had resisted a program to modernize the union to position it for growth.
One of the SEIU's allegations in the petitions dispute has raised eyebrows in labor and Democratic Party circles. The SEIU contends that the new union is "dominated by employers," and thus illegal, because former Bay Area political consultant Clint Reilly, who employs janitors as a commercial landlord, had helped its organizers raise money before they formed the group.The only place SEIU has thrown EFCA is under the bus, as has been reported here earlier.
He "is trying to destroy our union," said Dave Regan, an SEIU executive vice president.
Reilly, who once ran for San Francisco mayor and has a decades-long record as a pro-labor Democrat, said he has worked alongside the SEIU in the past. He has managed political campaigns for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both of California. During the 2008 presidential election, Reilly said, he hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton in a building that he also made available to the new union's leaders, who at the time were still in the SEIU.
He said the janitors are SEIU members. But the accusation that his status as an employer has tainted the new union is bogus, he said, particularly because he is not in the healthcare field.
"Why the NLRB is even pursuing this as a serious claim is beyond me," Reilly said.
For its part, the healthcare union, known as NUHW, has filed charges alleging that the SEIU has colluded with employers to defeat the new group.
Starla Rollins, an administrative worker at a San Bernardino hospital, said she began circulating petitions after concluding that the SEIU had become a "top-down" organization that cut members out of contract talks. Rollins said about 400 of 600 workers signed the petitions, and "people are very upset" that the elections have been blocked.
"It is our right as workers to choose who we are represented by," Rollins said.
The free choice act has been labor's No. 1 legislative priority, seen as a vehicle for reversing the long slide in union membership nationwide.
Under current law, workers cannot unionize by signing petitions unless their employers agree to that method, known as "card check." The more common scenario is that unions collect the signatures of a minimum 30% of workers -- the mandatory threshold -- and demand a secret-ballot election.
The SEIU and other backers of the free choice act say employers routinely derail union campaigns by intimidating workers in the run-up to elections, or by engineering delays through the national labor board. The act would permit workers to have union representation as soon as a majority signs petitions.
The SEIU has thrown its financial and political clout behind the measure, although the bill's prospects are uncertain.
Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez), the House's principal sponsor of the act, declined to comment on the California fight and any implications it might have for the proposal. But Miller and two other House Democrats sent a letter to the labor board calling on the agency to process the petitions and SEIU charges in a "timely manner."Almost all of which are boilerplate exact copies no matter the size of the organization at issue, and each of those charges are designed with one intent: An intent on the part of SEIU to delay its membership from expressing its desire to get out of SEIU.
That was 2-1/2 months ago. Labor board representatives say they don't know when, or if, the elections will be held, because investigators continue to sift through the claims. The board has found that existing SEIU contracts bar elections for the time being at a number of hospitals and clinics.
"This is not your normal situation we're dealing with here," said Will Baudler, an attorney for the board's Oakland region. "This is a massive amount of charges."
He said the board is handling the case as a "top priority."(insert eye roll here)
But the interim president of the new union, Sal Rosselli, said the board appears to be dragging its feet because of the SEIU's influence with the Obama administration. The SEIU was one of President Obama's biggest supporters during his White House run.I was unsure as to when the Hawkins vote was going to occur - perhaps in all the runup to Fresno it got lost in the shuffle, which is too bad.
"The average election is scheduled in 60 days, and nothing has been scheduled here," Rosselli said, noting that many of the signed petitions were filed in February.
Baudler and another NLRB representative said they had felt no political pressure. SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette denied the union has tried to get the administration to intervene with the board.
Meanwhile, in the San Pablo election, the SEIU has alleged misconduct by the new union and the employer.
A state panel issued complaints based on the charges, and a hearing is pending. The other election beyond the labor board's purview is for a Hollister hospital and two nursing homes. The votes will be counted Thursday.
It should be illegal what Pringle has done to SEIU in the pages of the Times. I'm glad it's not, though...
Monday, June 22, 2009
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.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."
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.
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.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The bottom line: Very little got solved here, and the status quo will likely remain for the near- and medium-range future.
Homecare union election challenged
Workers in Fresno Co. will have to wait 10 more days for final results.
Published online on Friday, Jun. 19, 2009By Barbara Anderson / The Fresno Bee
Fresno County's 10,000 homecare workers have voted in a bitterly fought election to remain with their established union, according to a tally of votes Friday evening.
But the election results are being challenged.
A count of the votes Friday showed the Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers-West won by a 233-vote margin over the National Union of Healthcare Workers, said Steve Sanchez, interim program manager for the Fresno County Public Authority. The authority is the employer of record for the workers, who care for elderly and disabled people -- many of whom are family members.
The SEIU received 2,938 votes, and the NUHW had 2,705 votes, Sanchez said. Ninety ballots were being contested, he said.
The state mediator will not certify the election results for 10 calendar days, Sanchez said.
The NUHW said it had asked for a recount vote and will contest the election.
"SEIU engaged in an illegal campaign fraught with violations of state and federal law," said Kevin Hall, a Fresno volunteer organizer. "We will be filing charges against them immediately to have a re-run of this election."
In an e-mail, NUHW said Fresno County homecare providers reported scores of incidents of voter intimidation, illegal threats and ballot manipulation by SEIU staff.
"Based on SEIU's illegal conduct and flawed decisions by the county election officer, healthcare workers in NUHW will file a legal challenge to the election and not be party to certification of the results," the union said.
SEIU representative Renee Asher said the charges were baseless.
"This election was fair, and it was impartial, and we both went out there and did our best," Asher said.
The real battle is in Sacramento, where a state budget is being formulated "that effectively would end homecare in California," she said.
The Fresno County election is the first large-scale contest between the 2.1 million-member SEIU union and the upstart NUHW.
The unions have been locked in conflict since the NUHW was launched in January out of a rift over leadership of the 150,000- member United Health Care Workers West, the Oakland-based local of the SEIU. The NUHW formed a day after SEIU President Andy Stern took control of the local by removing its 100 officers and placing it under a trustee's care.
In their battle for Fresno County votes, both unions have taken credit for getting in-home care workers a $10.25-an-hour wage and 85 cents an hour in benefits.
Each union faulted the other for a Fresno County wage-and-benefit cut of $1 per hour that goes into effect July 1.
Only the tip of the iceberg has been reported thus far on SEIU's illegal activities down in Fresno. The SEIU lawyers are going to receive a graduate-level course in how to respond to MMBA and NLRA violations.
It's tough to come so close to knocking off the big dog, only to fall short by 200 votes, but this is no time for anyone from NUHW to play coulda-woulda-shoulda. SEIU had to burn considerable resources (which cannot be quickly renewed) in order to "win" this election. This is the good news.
The bad news is that SEIU will now have to start taking NUHW seriously. Prior to yesterday, thought that they could just parachute 500 people into Fresno, spend a bunch of money, and they would just chase NUHW off of the field with their sheer size. The results from yesterday showed that they were wrong - dead wrong. As such, if they have any sense of institutional survival, SEIUwill get better and they will learn from what happened down in Fresno - because if they don't, they are going to get slaughtered in the hospitals and in the IHSS votes up in the north state.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Again, the actual for-and-against numbers are not presented, but the margin is given in the release (it stands right now at 235 out of roughly 5400 total votes cast for both units.
SEIU lies, bribes, and steals to claim razor-thin advantage in illegitimate Fresno County election
Homecare providers and supporters report vandalism, threats of violence, illegal scare tactics, ballot manipulation, theft, and other violations of labor lawSEIU spent an estimated $10 million on attack mailings, robo-calls, TV and radio ads, and 1,000 paid staff flown in from across the country, but failed to win enough support from workers to win the election without breaking the law. Despite SEIU's illegal tactics, just 117 votes could swing the outcome of the election. Based on SEIU’s illegal conduct and flawed decisions by the County election officer, healthcare workers in NUHW will file a legal challenge to the election and not be party to certification of the results.
Fresno, Calif.—Fresno County homecare providers reported scores of incidents of voter intimidation, illegal threats, and ballot manipulation by SEIU staff in an election for workers to quit the scandal-plagued union and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).
"SEIU has resorted to behavior worse than we’ve seen from the worst anti-union bosses," said Sal Rosselli, Interim President of NUHW. "They will say or do anything to deny workers a free choice. But healthcare workers have proven today that their movement to take back their union is thriving and has the strength to win.”
According to reports from homecare providers and volunteer supporters:
Violence and dirty tricks were encouraged from the outset of the election by SEIU-UHW Trustee Dave Regan, who was appointed to his position by SEIU President Andy Stern. At a staff meeting the day before the election, Regan urged hundreds of SEIU staff to follow "old-fashioned rules" and "administer an old-school ass-whipping" to NUHW supporters:
- Thousands of providers were directly threatened that they could lose their wages and health insurance if they vote for NUHW. It is illegal for an employer to change workers' pay or benefits when workers change their union, and illegal to threaten that pay or benefits will change as a result of workers' vote.
- SEIU organizers used threats of physical violence, profanity, and sexually threatening gestures to intimidate NUHW supporters as they walked door to door.
- SEIU organizers demanded that providers surrender their ballots to the organizers, and many providers who supported NUHW reported that their ballots were missing from their mailboxes.
- SEIU organizers told NUHW supporters to mark the top box to vote NUHW, when it was actually the box to vote for SEIU. At least one provider who needed help reading her ballot was visited by an SEIU organizer who pretended to be a NUHW volunteer, and drove her to the post office to mail a ballot she had mistakenly marked for SEIU.
- At least two workers' doors were vandalized or defaced, and many had signs stolen which they had placed on their homes to show their support for NUHW.
- Providers were offered bribes of valuable gifts and told they could have high-paying jobs with the union if they voted for SEIU."I think when I look around the room, the group that comes to Fresno with the workboots, this is the group who all understand old-fashioned rules, this is the group that you might call 'old-school.' And I know that I've talked to a lot of people in this room and people know what that means when we talk about 'old school.' …What we gotta do here, my old-school friends, is we have to administer an old-school ass-whipping over the next two weeks. I know everybody knows what that means." (YouTube: http://is.gd/15PAo)
Regan has a history of using violence in conflicts with other unions. 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,” Sweeney said.
Regan was dispatched to Fresno to try to stop a movement of nearly 100,000 SEIU members in California who are dumping the scandal-plagued union to join NUHW instead.
Healthcare workers founded NUHW in January, after Washington, D.C. SEIU officials seized California's healthcare union, SEIU-UHW, in a hostile takeover. Before the takeover, the healthcare workers elected to lead SEIU-UHW had been reformers within SEIU, exposing corruption and undemocratic practices. In retaliation, SEIU President Andy Stern removed SEIU-UHW's elected rank-and-file leaders and replaced them with Regan and other union staff loyal to the Washington office.
Since SEIU's takeover, workers at more than 360 healthcare facilities including Kaiser Permanente have petitioned for elections to quit the SEIU-controlled union and join NUHW instead. This Fresno County election was scheduled after 2,500 Fresno homecare providers filed a petition with the county to allow them to join NUHW.
The narrow margin is an embarrassing blow to SEIU, which spent an estimated $3,000 for every vote they claimed, outspending NUHW 50-to-1. At the beginning of the election, Regan announced that “this is not an election that we want to win 52 to 48. This is not an election that we want to win by a few hundred votes… We want them to believe when we are done here that it is hopeless… so they don’t even think they can take this mess outside of Fresno and bring it anywhere else.”
Instead, 35,000 homecare providers in Sacramento and San Francisco counties are already looking forward to their own elections to join NUHW. Under state and county labor laws, they will be able to petition for elections in September. The counties are both NUHW strongholds, where NUHW has protected homecare wages and benefits against the governor's budget cuts in recent weeks while SEIU squandered workers' dues fighting caregivers in Fresno.
Oh by the way - it has cost SEIU $10M to achieve a margin of 235 votes out of 5400 (that's 4.2%), and the cost to SEIU for each marginal vote was somewhere north of $42,500.
I'm hoping that Dave Regan will come out and explain just which body part SEIU managed to plunge a stake through.
Fresno Homecare Workers Vote to Stay with SEIU UHW
Fresno County home care workers have voted to stay in our union, SEIU UHW. Mail-in ballots were counted by election officials today in Fresno.
Members decided that staying united with SEIU's 2.1 million members makes them stronger and is the best way to fight the threat of state and county cuts to the home care program.
The tally comes after two weeks of mail-in balloting and vigorous informational efforts by SEIU UHW and a group led by ousted union leaders seeking to convince workers to change unions. Nearly a thousand SEIU activists from Fresno, other California communities, and across the nation came to support Fresno workers.
"As in most elections, the voters have a way of cutting through the noise and sorting things out," said Eliseo Medina, an SEIU Executive Vice President and SEIU UHW Trustee. "Their votes speak loudly that SEIU UHW members want a strong, united union so that together they can build a better future for themselves and the consumers they serve."
This is actually remarkably understated considering the level of importance that SEIU has put on this election. However, it is ironic that Esquirol Medina is talking about "cutting through the noise" when it is his organization that was making all of the noise in this election.
Note again that even though they are ahead in the polling, they were not willing to provide the actual numbers - probably because the actual numbers stand in stark contrast to what Thug Regan was promising SEIU would generate in his infamous speech.
This voting population was a worst-case scenario for NUHW, and they have taken SEIU all the way down to the wire, despite SEIU's efforts to depress the vote (not to mention their effort to suppress the actual counting as well).
This result, even if negative, bodes extremely well for the future fights coming up in Sacramento and San Francisco, as those battles will be being fought on NUHW's home turf, and in areas where it is a part of the record that NUHW has won successes in protecting salary levels in benefits whilst SEIU stood by waiting for their lawyers to do all the work.
Expect SEIU to try to spin this as a Great Purple Victory against the Evil Red Horde. They may even try to resuscitate their 5000-vote garbage, even though that claim was demonstrably false from the get-go.
So let the spin cycle begin, and let the run-ups to the next vote take place.
And to my former brothers and sisters in Zombie UHW, as well as their corrupt leadership, know this:
NUHW ain't going ANYWHERE!
2:30 PM -- The last of the mail pallets with ballot envelopes are on the tables. All three tables are opening them.
2:45 -- Official word from NUHW: "With 75% of the ballots sorted,this looks like a close race."
3:05 PM -- The vote counting area is being cordoned off.
Both sides have grown to over 18 people in the room. The officials demand that both sides get back to 18.
Vote count to begin soon.3:20 The vote count is about to begin.
At each table one vote counter counts groups of 25 Ballots from a sorted pile, then a second vote counter verifies those ballots. The ballots will be sorted into blocs of 25 by vote and turned over to officials.
3:25 PM The counting has begun.
3:35 PM This will be the fastest aspect of the process. It is going very swiftly.
3:45 PM The room is mostly silent at this point.The count continues. Blocs of 25 votes are being handed in every minute or less. (Comment by Sierra - at this rate, we probably will not have a final result tonight. Hopefully the counting process will go a bit faster than what Paul is reporting.)
3:55 PM Still counting.
4:30 The election official has announced that there is an exact 200 vote difference between the sides. One "unit," he does not say which,has 2769 and the other "unit" has 2569.
There are hundreds of set aside and contested ballots. They are discussing those totals now.
4:45 The number of ballots yet to be counted is still being determined. There are hundreds of them and there are numerous categories of ballots that were set aside and not counted. (For example, ballots not sealed in the green secret envelope, ballots damaged in the mail, ballots sealed with tape.)
5PM The leaders on both sides have retreated to strategize how to follow through on the remaining ballots.
Now both sides have returned and are stating what they will and won't accept, and will or won't challenge.
The election officials have agreed to count an initial 300+ ballots that both sides agree upon counting.
Having counted those ballots the officials will weigh whether the margin has closed or not and whether any remaining ballots that stand uncounted could change the outcome.
5:15 PM This goes without saying...but it's clear in the room that the Fresno homecare workers whose election this was are hanging on every decision and every word.
5:35 They've begun counting 290 ballots that were mailed in the retrun envelope but not in the secret ballot envelope.
6:00 The ballots in that pool of 290 are being tallied and we have a new margin shortly...NUHW 119 SEIU 155 was announced to the room with the balance no union or spoiled.
6:10 They now announce that SEIU was the union with 2769 ballots and NUHW was the union with 2569 ballots. The net margin is now being recalculated.
6:25 SEIU-UHW is taking this lull in the action to videotape some celebrations. Both sides are still in the room awaiting the margin announcement.
6:30 SEIU's lawyer claims victory with the new margin and asks that the counting stop. (There are around 100 votes left at issue.) NUHW asks that all the votes be counted and indicates that we want all the ballots protected for a recount. NUHW's lawyer also mentions that there are grave legal issues raised by SEIU's conduct in this election.
More will be added as updates filter in...
NUHW: Fresno Ballot Count Good morning from the Fresno ballot count!Please go to Part Two for continuation of this LiveBlog...
Today represents the official count of the ballots cast by Fresno homecare providers in an election that took place between June 1st and 15th in.Fresno County. The outcome of this election will determine whether NUHW or SEIU represents 10,000 Fresno homecare providers...9AM --So, no wireless here at the County Office Building, so this is a mobile liveblog, forgive my thumbs!
9:15 AM -- Both sides fill the room. We're upstairs in a small, windowless 30' x 30' room. The ballots are rolled on two carts by the officials. Some of us are going to have to leave...looks like we're down to 18 audience members from either side.
9:30 -- A warm cheer goes up from the NUHW side, Toni Landin, an NUHW activist who was injured in a car accident during the election is wheeled in.
10:00 AM -- They are slicing open envelopes and the ballot counters are working at three tables with an obsever from each side.
10:15 AM -- We have official news. Just under 6,000 Ballots were received by the County. (Comment by Sierra - Looks like SEIU's claim of 5000 votes was out-and-out BS after all...)
10:45 AM -- Outer Ballot envelopes are still being opened.(The stamped envelopes that contain the secret ballot envelopes, which contain the ballots) Piles of green secret ballot envelopes are rising on each table. Conversations in Hmong, Spanish and English fill the room as the envelope opening machine whirs.
11:15 AM -- The ballot counters take a break..No secret ballots have been opened yet.
11:30 AM -- They are opening the green secret ballot envelopes by hand and making piles of ballots face down on the table. (For folks out there wondering...there's no counting involved in this process, just opening ballot envelopes by hand and removing ballots.)
12:00 PM -- They are still opening ballots by hand. Some of the ballot counters are breaking for lunch. Bear with us here, this process will take some time. This election is well on its way to breaking record turnout.
A big hello goes out to the NUHW supporters who've found some shade in front of the building.
12:30 PM -- More and more ballots are on the table. Still no news or ballot counts. Take out coffees slowly are making an appearence. Apparently this office building also has an affordable and friendly cafeteria. The grilled chicken and vegetables gets a big thumbs up as does the Turkey Breast Sandwich.
12:50 PM -- I'd like to take.a moment to thank Mrs. Hall of Fresno who hosted this blogger on short notice last night. Thank you and enjoy the Irish Dance Competition!
1:15 PM -- Here's the first official quote from NUHW, "With approximately 20% of the ballots sorted this looks like a close race."
1:50 PM -- Second official quote from NUHW: "With 30% of the ballots sorted this still looks like a close race."
2:05 PM -- The sound of ballots being unfolded is non stop. Envelopes are still being opened by hand. Folks on both sides have started standing up to watch the ballots sorted into piles.
2:15 PM -- Since you all don't have visuals...let me try to describe what everyone in the room is seeing. There's one table opening ballots and two tables unfolding and sorting those ballots into piles. There's no official ballot counting at all yet.Each side's observers can look from their position at the sorting table...but the ballots are piled up on the sort piles very quickly.
2:30 PM -- The last of the mail pallets with ballot envelopes are on the tables. All three tables are opening them.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The fact of the matter is that it SEIU’s activity in CA has nothing to do with unionism, not even corrupt unionism, though Freeman is certainly corrupt. SEIU's farce in Fresno, which is just a subset of its larger treason to 150,000 healthcare workers throughout CA and everyone for whom unions matter, stems from a cancerously flawed vision. Stern and today’s SEIU have embraced a philosophy of growth at any cost, based on the assumption that larger membership automatically means more power for SEIU. (Note the uncomfortable distinction here between the workers and the union; this is a theme that will resurface.) But no membership organization stripped of the capacity to fight (more on that later) can somehow magically turn itself into a union when circumstances call for it. The relationships that comprise a real worker’s organization take time to build.Take ye some time and go over and truly appreciate Seth's work - it is nothing short of magnificent.
Stern and his allies are doing nothing short of using what was once a worker's organization, SEIU, to entrench corporate and state prerogative in the workplace. Since its seizure of the offices, resources, and name of UWW-West, SEIU has colluded with management to have elected stewards and bargaining-committee members fired, agreed to massive and unprecedented contract cuts in wages, benefits and working conditions, and spent something close to $10,000,000 of union members' money to try to break the union in Fresno. What Stern fails to see is that a union is not its offices, name, or even its budget. A union is nothing more and nothing less than workers standing together to hold employers accountable. NUHW is nothing more and nothing less than healthcare workers and their allies standing together to hold healthcare providers, profit, non-profit, and state-run operations alike, accountable to their workers, patients, and the larger communities in which they operate.
The growing healthcare-workers movement in CA caused a major problem for Stern and his faithful: workers who have experience in holding corporations accountable are not prone to submission when corporations say that they won’t or can’t do something. The facts are that they do when enough pressure is applied by workers (strikes) and their allies (pressure campaigns), and they only say they can’t or won’t to get rid of the pressure. This experience is one thing that separates the wheat from the chaff in the so-called "labor movement," and arguably something that distinguishes unions from governments as available accountability mechanisms in society. When Andy Stern started making far reaching template-contracts, agreements made by SEIU with corporations prior to and hence altogether without worker involvement, healthcare workers in CA said no. Even if those template-contracts hadn't included capitulations like: SEIU's agreement to represent only where those corporations allowed, SEIU's submission to gag-orders that precluded public criticism of employers (and thereby corporate campaigns), "no-strike clauses," and mediocre standards in general, the member-led Executive Board of UHW-West still wouldn't have played along.
In a real union, democratic organization and direction is every bit as important as what workers win. In fact, workers involved in a real union understand that they are only able to win by organizing and fighting for accountability and standards in their relationships with employers. In its template-deals, SEIU doesn’t merely circumvent worker action (strikes and pressure campaigns), SEIU make worker action impossible. This is not “a rose by any other name,” and SEIU is not revitalizing the labor movement. Stern and SEIU are developing the antithesis of unionism in the union’s house and calling it the union. Those template contracts, SEIU’s principle tools for growth, tie the hands of the workers who wind up subject to them: this sells out both the workers that Stern purports to represent and the communities in which they live.
Andy Stern and the SEIU organizers carrying their message are all working to break a union that already exists, and in so doing they undermine the accountability and standards that the union’s members and their allies fought hard to win. CA healthcare-workers and their allies won those standards and that accountability through working relationships with their allies and elected leadership, and the accomplishments of those relationship have been realized with stubborn persistence and a scrappy readiness to fight. Stern's locals, on the other hand, can't claim either to honor democratic practice or to have achieved anything in terms of real standards for workers. In fact, all of SEIU's activities in CA leading up to and following it's bogus trusteeship amount to either outright union-busting or capitulation to employers, neither of which is subject to the criticism, much less approval, of actual union members.
In the one place that workers have been able to vote, Doctor's Medical Center in San Pablo, the result was a landslide victory for NUHW: 85% of the union members there voted to leave the old name behind in order to keep control of their union, making NUHW the third name it has had in recent history. In Fresno, odds are slim that the contest will produce such a blowout if for no other reason than the enormous disparity in resources between the two organizations. On the ground in Fresno, the significance of the resource question is every bit as palpable as SEIU's systemic and duplicitous avoidance of accountability or honesty. For example, the contract between homecare-workers and the Board of Supervisors in Fresno County clearly lists the individuals who negotiated the contract for the Union's side; 100% of those individuals are now working as NUHW volunteers to help keep democratic principles at the core of the organization they've built. Yet UHW's trustees, appointed by Stern, take all the credit for that contract, which was settled in 2006, 3 years before the trusteeship. SEIU's message to homecare-workers in Fresno, like its message to healthcare-workers throughout CA, depends on this kind of misrepresentation, and SEIU's organizers are instructed to tell workers they should "stay with their union, the union that won them health insurance and increased wages," as if the union were just a brand, instead of a group of people that has already been working together to improve their lives for years. But in opposition to SEIU’s massive resources stand working relationships, and a history of democratic legitimacy. NUHW’s volunteers, and at this stage, everyone working for NUHW is a volunteer, are staking their efforts on the notion that actual relationships and democratic legitimacy are more important than any amount of resources that a company-union can use to brand itself and throw at a campaign.
At the end of the day, SEIU's campaign depends largely on such brand recognition. SEIU's strongest organizing tools to date include mailers, media spots, billboards, and roving signs on trucks. Such were the tools SEIU used when it tried to co-opt a teachers' union in Puerto Rico last year by colluding with officials in the Puerto Rican government. Those teachers, as volunteers and without a budget, out-organized SEIU's multi-million dollar machine, and beat SEIU, decrying its attempted intervention as a form of imperialism. SEIU's activity in CA is no less a project of empire, and though it's impossible to know exactly how much SEIU has wasted on its union-busting in Fresno, it's almost certain that the amount it has spent on nearly 900 paid staff, hotel rooms, rental cars, billboards, and countless radio and TV adds, could have been used to eliminate the pay cuts to which SEIU unilaterally agreed, pay-cuts that will be reflected in Fresno County homecare-workers' paychecks as of July 1st. Meanwhile, NUHW has worked out deals with officials in San Francisco and Sacramento to preclude such cuts, despite the slashes in funding from California's Governator. SEIU hasn't been able to stop the cuts; in fact, it hasn't even tried. Very likely it's too busy union-busting to contemplate a course of action that matches up with workers' interests.
In terms of field staff, NUHW volunteers were outnumbered by SEIU staff approximately 10-1, and that says nothing of the budget behind SEIU's deceptive media buys and mailers. A running joke among NUHW volunteers runs like this: Who spends money on billboards in the poorest neighborhoods in Fresno? Casinos, liquor companies, payday-advance lenders, and SEIU. SEIU has earned itself impressive company in this regard. Under Stern's leadership, SEIU has become not just a parasitic organization that sucks resources from some of the most vulnerable members of the community, but one that ties the hands of those for whom it purports to advocate, making it literally impossible for them to fight to improve their own circumstances. In short, Stern has turned SEIU into a union-busting machine of the kind that corporations could only dream: now business has a “union” to do its union-busting, and the most perfect of ready-made, company-unions to act as business’s front line in the interaction between employers and workers. If unions exist to hold employers and businesses accountable, Stern's SEIU doesn't just fail, it precludes such accountability altogether. That's not unionism, it's at best a farce, and at worst, it's social-facism.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
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.
Friday, June 12, 2009
We've been hearing about the "brain drain" that has happened ever since UHW became Zombie UHW, with the lion's share of that experience going over to the NUHW side.
However, the SEIU "drain" just keeps going unplugged. The Plague has most recently lost Josie Mooney to the
Now, with all this shuffling around and people in very high positions going on to greener (or at least drier) pastures, you would think that the Zombies would make sure that they keep the long-term employees who stayed through the trusteeship transition around, if for no other reason than they are familiar voices and names that the members would recognize, and further that they are the familiar voices and names that the managers would recognize in the event of necessary representation activities.
But of course, for SEIU, all that was predicated on two things: 1) Taking the SEIU Loyalty Oath, and 2) Doing anything and everything that Thug Regan and Esquirol Medina tells ya to do. Dissension in the ranks is not to be tolerated, see? Rats such as this need to be tossed off the ship even if they may want to stay on until the last, final moment.
And so we come to the case of Greg Tegenkamp, a long-term Zombie UHW field rep and organizer who goes back to the Local 250 days, but who decided to stay on with Zombie UHW instead of leaving in protest when the trusteeship was imposed. As matters evolved, he was being asked to do more and more things that he felt were not in the interests of the people he was charged to serve as a field rep and organizer.
It took being required to partake in the Fresno IHSS fight - and the process of SEIU phone banking in that effort - to bring matters to a boil for Mr. Tegenkamp, as he relates in his E-mail to Thug Regan:
May 31, 2009__________
Dave Regan, Trustee
United Healthcare Workers West, SEIU
560 Thomas L. Berkeley Way
Oakland, California 94612
Dear Mr. Regan:
This letter is to inform you of my decision not to participate in the Fresno Home Care Blitz and to help you understand the reason for my decision, First, I must tell you a little about myself and my involvement in the labor movement.
In 1997, I started working for Local 250, one of the few Unions whose vision inspired me to apply. ‘When I started, Local 250 had around 30,000 members and today, it has close to 150,000, with about 100,000 in the former jurisdiction of 250. When I started, we were at the early stages of changing from a business union to a member-driven union. Martinez Kaiser, one of my facilities, had only two stewards. Walnut Creek had about a dozen, but one really controlled everything. I received upward to 20 calls a day from members, on average. At the time of the trusteeship, these facilities had about 30 and 50 stewards respectively. I now receive less than 10 calls a week from members. Some facilities are better organized than others, and there remains a vestige of the old servicing model in some. In Southern California, the transformation started later and the growing pains have been hard, but real progress was being made and people were getting past the feelings that the North was imposing its ways on the South.
UHW before the trusteeship, was a vibrant organization that really did put members first and did really believe in Union democracy. For two years prior to the trusteeship, we all know the International and UHW were engaged in an internal dispute about policy and direction of the Union. No matter how that dispute is framed and no matter what side one may have been on in that dispute, one thing is indisputable: the International Union spent an unprecedented amount of resources attacking one of its Local Unions. I have been active in the labor movement for over 30 years and I have never seen anything like it. Some of the glossy mailers sent to our members' homes and even sent to non-members who we were attempting to organize were worse than anything I had seen from union-busting law firms. To this day it is hard for me to fathom how someone who is the leader of a large international union could endorse such action.
Nonetheless, I did not resign from UHW upon trusteeship, as many of those who I admire did. I knew there would be chaos and I knew there would be confusion, mistrust and anger among our steward leaders and members. I feared that representation of our members would suffer and I chose to stay in order to do what I could to avoid this from happening. I did not quite know what to expect from the trustees, but I hoped they would accept me for my contributions and in return I would keep an open mind and perhaps, in time, through their actions, they would earn my trust.
I suppose I hoped for too much. What I see is some of the stewards and staff least respected by members being promoted to positions of authority, solely because they have an ax to grind with the previous leaders. What I hear is the current leaders referring to members as “idiots” because they support NUHW. What I don’t see is very many real leaders stepping forward in support of SEIU. What I don’t hear is any commitment to real democracy. Sure, you want more members on the Local Organizing Committee than were on the previous Executive Board, so you can say how inclusive you are, but it is very clear that the only voice these members will have is to repeat what ever message the trustees decide, which is currently "Destroy NUHW at all costs". If you cannot pledge to carry that message don’t bother applying. The Executive Board set policy, the LOC can only follow the policy set by the trustees.
This all brings us back to the Fresno Blitz and my decision not to participate. Simply, I refuse to lie to members to get them to do something, because this is manipulation. Furthermore an organizing campaign that relies on manipulation evinces no more than a cynical disrespect for members. The telephone script for the Fresno phone-banking contains many misrepresentations and some straight, flat out lies. It is a lie, for example, that the former leaders "were removed for misusing members' money." The truth, and you know the truth, is that the former leaders were removed for not co-operating with the transfer of the long term care members to a local where the leader was removed for misusing member's money to enrich himself, his wife, his wife’s family and his friends. It is also a lie, although one of omission, not to tell the members that if they vote to "remain" in UHW they are really voting to be moved out of UHW into Tyrone's old local. If SEIU is indeed the better choice for the Fresno Homecare members, why are we not focusing on the reasons they should remain in SEIU? Why do we need to lie and misrepresent and vilify the opposition leadership?
The other day while phone banking, I sort of got into it with somebody named James Hunter. I had overheard him leaving a message, saying that the NUHW folks were taking peoples' ballots from them and if they tried to take "your ballot" to call some 559 number. I asked him where this was on the script and how could they be taking ballots when ballots hadn't even been mailed yet. He showed me where the script said they would "probably" engage in this behavior. He also said this was how NUHW won the Doctor's Hospital election, by going door to door and taking people's ballots. I asked rhetorically if this was how a 7:1 victory was achieved. He said he worked on the campaign arid his experience talking to workers, the election should have been about even.. He went away for a few minutes and care back citing Kim Evon’s e-mail as proof of his assertions, since Kim said at least three times that the election was "tainted" it must be true.
I avoided repeating the lies and misrepresentation when I phoned, but I overheard others, with unchecked imaginations, expanding on what was on the script. I cannot blame them, because they have been whipped into a state of frenzy by you and others in high positions within the trusteeship. I have heard you exhort the troops to share your "righteous indignation" right after you told us all that we were "doing the Lord's work" (your frequent religious sermonizing I find personally offensive, by the way) by fighting to destroy NUHW. The former leaders of UHW have been called thieves, liars, power hungry, self-aggrandizing, opportunistic, satanic and worse. For those of us still with SEIU who know the former leaders, we know these to be lies. And the latest epithet being bandied about is that they are "union busters". I guess that makes Dolores Huerta, an icon of the labor movement, a union buster, since she supports NUHW. Does it make Andy Stern a union-buster? How are the raids of UNITE-HERE or, in the past, CNA, different front what NUHW is doing?
You talk to us about the values of UHW and speak of your admiration for Nelson Mandela for not seeking retribution against those who imprisoned him and tell our lost-time members to hold out an olive branch to NUHW supporters. Yet you follow that up with saying you are not done yet with efforts to get Josh Wiser removed from his position with SEIU 1000, simply because he was a former UHW staff member who left in support of NUHW. No retribution there. And for a different audience, you said that SEIU's attorneys would be thoroughly examining every document returned by the former leaders and it was your hope that they would be caught withholding something so they could go to jail where they belonged. I guess one day it might be New Testament and turn the other cheek, but for now it's all Old Testament and an eye for an eye.
I refuse to compromise my values and principles by being part of a dishonest campaign. Furthermore, I have yet to hear anything to convince me that SEIU is the better choice for these members. How can I be expected to sell SEIU when the only facts I can rely on are SEIU has lots of members and lots of money and NUHW doesn’t.
Shortly after the trusteeship I was placed on paid administrative leave because I refused to sign a sort of "loyalty" letter. After 30 days, I was allowed to return to work with the understanding that my role would be centered on representational issues within Kaiser, not only at my facility, but also in assisting other areas who had no experienced reps and assisting with regional bargaining. I understood it to be a condition of my employment that I support SEIU but I also made it clear I would nor do anything unethical or morally repugnant. I expressed it as my sincerest desire to remain with SEIU so I could continue to organize the members at Kaiser to fight the boss (albeit in the peculiar way we fight the boss in the LMP), and not to be embroiled in the Sal v. Andy dispute. I know I have been performing my role well and I wish to continue doing so, without being required to participate in the negative campaigning. Perhaps this is not possible and you will wish to terminate my employment. I can accept that consequence for myself. But 1 will be touched with added sadness for the members whom it has been my privilege to represent for the last 12 years, as their immediate interests continue to be neglected.
Please let me know your decision. I will be reporting to my facility tomorrow.
Lead Field Representative/Organizer
Cc: Mary Grillo Greg Maron
Greg Tegenkamp was fired by SEIU on Monday, June 8th.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
This is a lady who has put a face and a name to some absolutely shameful, and IMHO borderline criminal, tactics on the part of the Purple Plague - all for the purpose of trying to get their way.
“They ignored my doctor’s orders”
Virginia is a homecare patient who is confined to her bed due to a variety of illnesses, including the need for constant bottled oxygen due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In just the last few days, SEIU has harassed and threatened Virginia and her family so many times that her health has been negatively impacted. Here is her story, in her own words:
“My family has begged SEIU to leave me alone, but they have refused. We’ve explained to them that I’m confined to my bed because the doctor thinks it’s too dangerous for me to walk. Almost every day they’ve come to my door and demand that I come and speak to them. My family even said to them, don’t you understand that every time you knock on our door you wake her up, and she needs her rest in order to heal.
“Instead of respecting my doctor’s orders, they started yelling at my niece. I could hear them from my room. Two women from SEIU said that if I didn’t come out and talk with them by the end of the month, I would no longer be eligible for services.
“If I weren’t eligible for homecare, I would probably end up in a nursing home. It makes me upset and scared that they would threaten me with that. No one wants to live like that. I’d rather be dead than end up in a nursing home. Honestly I think it has affected my health. Every time I think I hear a knock I’m afraid it’s them again. It’s awful.
“NUHW is fighting for my right to live in dignity in my home with my family. They’re fighting to make sure that those who need it continue to receive the services we need. SEIU is using it as a threat. SEIU needs to stop these aggressive tactics. There’s a lot of very ill people in Fresno, and if SEIU is this aggressive with other people too, I’m afraid of what could happen.”
These are NOT the actions of an organization that is confident in its mission.
These are NOT the actions of an organization whose first and primary purpose is to serve its constituents.
These ARE, however, the actions of an organization that has absolutely lost its bearings, and believes that only the transient possession of power over people's wallets will serve their perceived need.
Given the above story, there was no earthly way that this lady's caregivers were going to vote for SEIU, but instead of either quietly trying to persuade, or accepting the judgment of that particular worker, the SEIU reps in the story above decided, instead, to invade the harmony of a home where people are just trying to get well and to get by.
In short, the SEIU reps in the story above were yelling at the family of a critically ill woman because they would not vote the way SEIU wants them to vote.
It is personally sickening to me to have to send SEIU money every month in order for A-holes like that to have a job.
For what it's worth, on behalf of the actual rank-and-file current members of Zombie UHW who are now stuck in Hotel California, and who are thus by extension funding the salary of those reps in the story above, I would like to publicly apologize to Virginia and to her family for what SEIU has done to them in order to, as they put it, "protect worker rights."
Folks, there are no "worker rights" that need protection enough to engage in conduct like we saw outlined above. Whomever is responsible for the above acts should be immediately and publicly terminated by SEIU. Alas, Thug Regan will probably just give them a big, wet, sloppy kiss for what only he would perceive as a job well done.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
One thing of note is that Perez's imitator has now decided to apply the "racist" label to anyone who is pro-NUHW or anti-SEIU. This is usually the type of verbiage that is left to someone who hasn't got anything else of substance to argue, but that individual hasn't had anything of real substance to report nor has he been able to back up his spew in almost his entire miserable existence in blogging. With that said, and in the interest of full disclosure, I offer the link to that individual's site here, in case you want to go over and enjoy his artful "contribution" to the issues at hand in the labor movement.
Other than that, it's pretty much down to the wire for the Fresno vote. NUHW is still on the ground in Fresno (with The Plague having pulled out last weekend), and we'll have a result from the Fresno IHSS vote within about a week or so. Posting may be slow in that time, but do bear with us.
Monday, June 8, 2009
The former UHW, now populating the higher echelons of NUHW, is using the former approach and is getting results by defending IHSS programs, first in San Francisco and now most recently in Sacramento...
After weeks of grassroots advocacy by National Union of Healthcare Workers, IHSS Public Authority staff will recommend budget proposal to preserve 100% of current wages and benefits for homecare providers despite deep cuts from the Governor.This isn't just a Q-and-A session - this was an actual news conference at which Supervisor Dickinson showed up and spoke at the NUHW lectern...
Supervisor Roger Dickinson joined Sacramento homecare providers and advocates today in announcing a breakthrough victory to protect homecare services in Sacramento County. At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Public Authority staff will recommend a budget package to preserve homecare providers' wages at $10.40 per hour with all current health benefits.
The proposal is the result of weeks of grassroots advocacy by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) to maintain and improve wages and benefits for homecare providers using federal stimulus funds, and the Board of Supervisors is expected to approve it in a vote on Tuesday. This comes on the heels of a victory last week by NUHW in San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin Newsom’s administration proposed a budget for 2009-10 that uses a costing model proposed by NUHW to maintain San Francisco County providers' wages at $11.54 per hour.
“I thank the National Union of Healthcare Workers for their work to achieve this solution to save IHSS wages and benefits,” said Supervisor Dickinson. “I believe that Sacramento County is ready to protect vital services for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as providers’ wages, with no added cost to the budget.”
IHSS is a homecare service funded jointly by state, county, and federal funds that allows frail seniors and people with disabilities to live with dignity in their own homes, rather than in more expensive institutions. The funding solution proposed by NUHW allows counties to maintain or raise homecare providers' wages and benefits despite Gov. Schwarzenegger’s devastating cuts to state homecare funding—largely by back-filling the loss of state funds with additional federal Medicaid funds available to counties through the Obama administration's economic stimulus package.
Frances Gracechild, Executive Director of Sacramento-based disability advocacy group Resources for Independent Living, said the wage protection would also protect the quality of care delivered to residents.
“The workers and leaders of NUHW have raised wages for providers in Sacramento and around the state, and shown that when providers earn livable wages and benefits they can provide consistent, higher-quality care,” Gracechild said. “NUHW’s victories to protect homecare services in Sacramento and San Francisco are great news for all of us who rely on the vital care homecare workers provide.”
Bill Camp, Executive Secretary of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, called NUHW’s advocacy proof of the strength of the 18,000 homecare workers in Sacramento County.
“The leaders of NUHW were so crucial in helping homecare providers win their union in the first place,” Camp said. “And today they are helping homecare workers win again, and protect their wages and their jobs even in a time of economic turmoil. NUHW and Sacramento County are delivering economic security for providers in Sacramento and hope for providers across the state.”
Ella Raiford, a Sacramento homecare provider and elected leader of NUHW, said uniting with other healthcare workers gave homecare providers the voice they needed to protect their wages.
“Our victory shows that we can protect our wages when we’re united with Kaiser workers and hospital workers in a strong, democratic union,” Raiford said. “That union is NUHW. At the same time SEIU-UHW is spending millions trying to divide us, we’ve been meeting with Supervisors and the Public Authority to advance a real plan to preserve funding.”
NUHW’s recommendations to protect and improve homecare services have detailed the specific changes in IHSS funding that would result from the combination of state cuts and federal enhancements, and explained how each county could maintain and improve workers' wages and benefits at no additional cost.
In order to foster this type of agreement, a framework has been proposed by the NUHW leadership - the people with actual experience in working with the elected powers-that-be - and such examples can be found here, here and here.
Not surprisingly, there are no Zombie UHW reps to be found in the above photos, nor are there any concrete IHSS funding plans to be found on the 'tubes that were generated by Zombie UHW or the Purple Plague. Of course, this set of inconvenient facts does not stop Zombie UHW from trying to take credit for someone else's actions, though...
The members of the SEIU UHW bargaining team representing homecare workers inNote from the above that there are NO quotes from anyone who is not in the pay of SEIU-UHW on some level. There are NO links to any concrete proposals made by Zombie UHW. There is nothing in the above Zombie UHW presser except for a regurgitation of the same stale, tired talking points shielding a desperate attempt to yell out one thing: "Me, Too!"
Sacramento Countyare lauding an agreement with the County that will guarantee current wages and healthcare benefits in the face of economic distress. County officials have worked with the union to offset losses in local revenue with federal stimulus funds to assure no loss of pay for homecare workers.
"This is a perfect example of what we can accomplish when our union and local officials work together," said SEIU UHW bargaining committee member and homecare worker
Martha Cobos. "This decision means that those who care for society's most vulnerable will be able to keep doing this important work."
The current wage for homecare workers in
Sacramento Countyis $10.40an hour, plus $.70for benefits. All across the state, politicians - including the governor - have threatened to slash homecare pay and benefits to make up for losses in state and local tax revenue. SEIU UHW has maintained that the federal stimulus money is designed to offset exactly this kind of deficit, and Sacramentoofficials agree.
"This is the model for all county officials and the state government to follow," said SEIU UHW Trustee
Eliseo Medina. "The wrong place to cut costs is on the backs of homecare workers, for both moral and financial reasons. Remember, homecare saves vital taxpayer money that would otherwise be spent on more costly institutional care and unemployment for displaced workers."
In another positive development for County homecare workers, County officials have agreed to work to settle a new contract for homecare workers well before the
November 30expiration date. Negotiations are scheduled to begin in late July and SEIU UHW bargainers are optimistic that a progressive contract is possible.
"We are a strong union and will work hard to defend and increase our pay and benefits," said
John Campbell, who is also a member of the bargaining committee. "We look forward to working with the County to hammer out a contract and take care of our members so they can focus on their important work."
UHW is truly a pathetic shell of what it once was.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
The term "astroturfing" has come to another meaning besides the laying down of fake grass where real grass had grown before. It also means the attempt to show that there is being made an attempt at political, advertising or public relations campaigning, with the goal of creating the impression of spontaneous "grassroots" activity.
And so it goes with Zombie UHW, who rarely passes up any chance for their leaders to flex their Madd Intertubez Skillzz. As we all know by now, Flo Furlow had an op-ed piece in the Fresno Bee last Saturday. This, of course, could not be let to stand by itself, so out come the letters to the editor.
First, there is Tracy Robinson and Jackie Peppars on Tuesday...
In the United Healthcare Workers West of the Service Employees International Union, we have a saying: We're stronger together. That's why we have to respectfully disagree with Florine Furlow ("Home-care workers take their union back," Valley Voices May 30) when she writes that she trusts the National Union of Healthcare Workers.Then there was Lisa Brown on Friday...
NUHW has continually lied to us and delivered false promises about what they can do for workers. The truth is the former leaders who were booted out of UHW for misusing our dues money still just see dollar signs when they see us home-care workers. But we're not falling for the lies this time.
This week, we have a simple choice: Stick with UHW SEIU — the union with the strength to fight back against the terrible cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, or go with the organization that's tried to divide us and that's lied to us over and over.
We have the protective umbrella of millions of UHW SEIU members standing with us. We owe it to ourselves to vote UHW in this election.
Finally, there was Charles Taylor today...
Florine Furlow is a fellow homecare provider in Fresno with an interesting perspective [Valley Voices May 30] regarding the upcoming election over union representation for In-Home Supportive Service workers.
Yes, the civil rights movement correlates well with disabled and elderly people being supported to live in their own homes.
Tragic and devastating cuts are being proposed that could change home care for all time. Ms. Furlow seems to feel those former leaders of our local have “magic” to stop these cuts.
What stopped them from taking action? Why weren’t they using their magic before Feb. 2, while they were in power and before they voluntarily resigned to form a different union?
I’m choosing to fight to protect the aged and those with disabilities, like my son. He, like so many others, may well end up in a long-term institutional placement if services are cut and is a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit brought by our union, UHW-SEIU, against our governor and county to seek an injunction from July’s planned cuts.
We need to unite to fight back together against these cuts. Let’s join arms and redouble efforts to turn this around. It’s hard work, not magic. Tomorrow may be too late!
First letter: NUHW Lies. Second letter: Former UHW (now NUHW) leaders did nothing. Third letter: Choose to stay with the big dog.
This week and next, 10,000 Fresno home-care providers are making a decision that will change our lives forever.
As we face devastating state budget cuts, will we choose to abandon fellow workers from across the state to join a fledgling group with no members? Or will we stick with UHW SEIU, the largest home-care union in the country, which is leading efforts to stop the budget cuts and build us a better, more secure future.
For me, someone who has dedicated my life to in-home care, the decision is clear. United we stand. Divided we fall.
To save our jobs and protect our wages so we can continue providing quality care to seniors and people with disabilities, Fresno home-care workers must unite with our brothers and sisters from across the state and stand with SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West.
I know firsthand the power and the promise of a united 300,000-strong union of home-care workers.
I first became a UHW SEIU member five years ago when I was providing in-home support for my sister who was a diabetic and had a severe heart condition. Before she passed away two years ago, my sister depended on me to feed her, wash her and ensure she kept up with her medications and doctor visits. Because of the in-home care I provided, my sister lived out her last days in peace and dignity.
None of this would have been possible without the strength of UHW SEIU. You see, when I began caring for my sister, I earned $7.15 an hour without health insurance. Back then, I struggled to make ends meet, taking on multiple clients and working 80-hour weeks, just so that I could support myself and my family.
Despite my love and dedication to caring for some of Fresno's neediest, I knew that I could not continue to live at poverty wages unless something changed
Then in 2006, UHW SEIU led a historic campaign to increase our wages. As a bargaining unit member, aided by home-care workers from across the state and resources from UHW's years of experience winning better wages for workers, we were able to increase wages for Fresno home-care workers from less than $8 an hour to $10.25 an hour.
Through the strength and resources that came from fellow UHW SEIU members fighting similar battles across the state and across the country, we achieved more than I could ever have imagined, including health care for many of our members.
It's this kind of dedication and unwavering support that Fresno home-care providers need today. The cuts to home care that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing could push as many as nine out of 10 home-care providers out of work.
We need union leaders who will keep their eye on the ball and not get lost in their own personal power grab. NUHW is trying to convince us that the battle is between home-care providers -- that the battleground is in Fresno, not in Sacramento or in Washington. Don't be fooled.
We have everything to lose by isolating ourselves and diminishing our strength. But we have everything to gain by sticking with a 2 million-member-strong union that is fighting on the airwaves, in the courts, in the Capitol and in the White House to protect our future.
We have a once in a life-time opportunity through June 15 to join forces to defend our way of life and build a united movement of home-care workers across the state and across the country to ensure we save the jobs we love. The stakes are too high to choose a false prophet. Choose solidarity over disunity. Choose your future. Vote UHW SEIU.
In other words, folks, the above three letters read like a ghost-written three-part harmony depicting EXACTLY what SEIU's "rap" has been down in the Fresno IHSS fight.
It is also quite surprising to see people's names attached to verbiage that is almost straight off of the SEIU Fresno BS-generation site. If this is an attempt to appear "grassroots", then it is a ham-handed one at best.
Friday, June 5, 2009
I honestly do not know what to make of this one, but should you wish to partake of this "offer", then you can click directly over to the ad by pressing here.
It's official: The SEIU Local 1021 this morning announced that its workforce of roughly 11,000 San Francisco employees ratified a wage concessions deal with the city -- staving off more layoffs (for now) and giving the city around $25 million in savings to apply toward some of the myriad cuts in the stark proposed budget.The process to avoid further layoffs, notwithstanding this pact, now depends on a "revenue" measure - read as tax hikes - that will go to the ballot this November in San Francisco. Such measures usually have to pass 67-33. It has been done before, but usually for a very narrow focus item, not a citywide budgetary fix.
A full 86.4 percent of the union's workforce opted for the deal -- roughly double the percentage who voted for a doomed, near-identical pact in mid-May. The union's spurning of that deal -- which is excessively sweet as wage concessions go; workers still receive 3.75 percent raises which are made up by additional unpaid days off -- led to Mayor Gavin Newsom dismissing 288 SEIU employees last month. That -- and the ever-sharper focusing of the city and state's dire financial picture -- seems to have induced a change of heart for SEIU employees to take what they could get.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Paul Garver unloads on SEIU, and this is delicious in the extreme from first to last...
The question truly does beg to be asked after this article - why is SEIU fighting so hard, and pressing themselves in such a manner, to the end of keeping 10,000 people in their clutches?
Eight hundred organizers from SEIU locals in California and other states have flooded into the small Central Valley city of Fresno. Rallying at the Fresno Fair Grounds (site of the first of the California internment camps for Japanese-Americans in 1942), the conscripts were provided with SEIU T-shirts and purple paraphenalia, water bottles, and speeches (view report on speech by SEIU-UHW trustee Dave Regan) exhorting them to kick the asses, whip the butts, and drive a stake through the heart of the rival National Union of Health Workers (NUHW). They will make daily house calls on the 10,000 homecare workers who are currently members of SEIU-UHW, which national SEIU put into trusteeship in January. The workers have petitioned for representation by the NUHW, founded by deposed UHW leaders and shop stewards. UHW first organized the Fresno homecare workers and won a good first contract in 2002-2003.
A much smaller number of volunteer organizers represent the NUHW. One of their elected leaders within the Fresno homecare unit is Florine Furlow, who was arrested at a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Little Rock in 1960, who in an op-ed article in the Fresno Bee views her union struggle as a continuation of her campaigns for civil rights and disability rights. Other volunteer organizers include Dana Simon, who had coordinated the original 2002-3 organizing and contract campaigns in Fresno and a month ago resigned his SEIU position as lead organizer for Massachusetts hospitals to protest SEIU’s actions in California. Another is Fred Ross, Jr., a long-time union organizer beginning with the UFW, who also wrote of his resignation from SEIU on Talking Union. As reported by Randy Shaw on this blog, former UFW leaders are divided. Delores Huerta supports the NUHW, while Eliseo Medina is SEIU-UHW’s co-trustee along with Dave Regan.
The 10,000 homecare workers are mailing back their ballots from June 1 to 15 to choose between SEIU-UHW and NUHW as their collective bargaining representative. In a sense they are choosing between Goliath and David. Goliath has the troop numbers and the deep pockets. David lacks these resources. In other respects as well, the battlefield is favorable for Goliath. The fiscal crisis in California is posing an imminent threat to the precarious gains of the Fresno homecare workers. SEIU-UHW already lost an arbitration to maintain the wage level, but claims that its political connections in Washington and Sacramento can help restore them. Inundating Fresno homecare workers with house calls, television messages and other propaganda may not persuade them to love or support SEIU, but as every union-busting management consultant knows, you do not have to persuade workers to get them to vote against change – you merely have to confuse them and paralyze their wills. In the tumult and stress of a chaotic campaign, many will choose “no union” -or in this case the “incumbent” union- in a desperate attempt to ease the tension. The unit of Fresno homecare workers is relatively new to the labor movement – its members work in isolated individual households and lack the work relationships that facilitate communication and can bolster group solidarity among co-workers in hospitals and nursing homes.
The stakes are high both for SEIU and for the NUHW. The NUHW might survive an electoral defeat in Fresno, and live to fight on at Kaiser and other large institutional settings where its support is more firmly based. And if SEIU fails to “drive a stake through the heart” of NUHW in Fresno, it will surely keep on trying. But even SEIU’s resources are not infinite. Some of its 800 conscripts in Fresno are already proving reluctant and might be hard to mobilize for a similar effort in the future. Local 99 SEIU staffers, for instance, signed a letter demanding neutrality in the SEIU/NUHW conflict and picketed the union office in protest against assignment to Fresno. Others are posting critical reports on the pro-NUHW PerezStern blog site.
Moreover SEIU is increasingly engaged on another costly national front, against UniteHere. SEIU has had to loan $1 million to its Workers United conference that split off from UniteHere to support its internal battle with the larger group that remained within that union. Workers United has only about 100,000 dues paying members, and will likely have to seek further relief from making per capita payments to SEIU. So long as a settlement is not reached over financial issues, control of the Amalgamated Bank and jurisdictional issues, SEIU may find its battle against UniteHere to be more draining than expected.
This is probably why SEIU has chosen to run such a massive effort amounting to overkill to crush the NUHW insurgency in Fresno. But even electoral victory in Fresno would not in itself restore SEIU’s moral legitimacy that is being eroded by its repeated involvement in fratricidal inter- and intra-union conflicts. SEIU had amassed considerable political, financial and moral capital over decades of organizing workers and fighting progressive campaigns over issues.
Would it be tragic for SEIU and for the entire progressive movement if the “real SEIU” is represented only by the face of Dave Regan talking trash on the Fresno fairgrounds? Is the “real SEIU” better represented by Flo Furlow, Dana Simon and Fred Ross, Jr? Read their articles and listen to their speeches on the links provided to answer these questions for yourself.
Probably because even SEIU now knows that once one or two groups of people break free, the floodgates will open, and the weaknesses of the SEIU management-friendly union approach will be laid bare for all to see.
SEIU believes that the strength of the union is in the leadership, while NUHW believes that the strenght is found in the membership.
The contrast could not be more clear.