SEIU Drops the Other Shoe -- And Has It Thrown Back
Last Friday the Service Employees International Union announced that its executive board had voted to merge three of its California branches of long-term health-care workers into one mega-local. This would add 90,000-members from SEIU state locals 6434 and 521, to the union's 150,000-member United Healthcare Workers-West unit (UHW).
"The International Executive Board of the Service Employees
International Union," crowed an SEIU press release, "today voted overwhelmingly to adopt the
recommendations of an outside hearing officer."
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Left: SEIU president Andy Stern
Although the release was issued Friday, many SEIU members had the feeling it had been typed two years ago -- when a rift over the merger between UHW head Sal Rosselli and SEIU president Andy Stern became public. The
Oakland-based Rosselli and his members boycotted a December election on the merger issue,
which they claim to have been illegitimate. Basically, Rosselli's group
wants to remain autonomous in the face of Stern's policy of creating
super-locals out of SEIU's more independently minded units.
That election was the first shoe to drop -- SEIU's Friday merger announcement was the second. UHW, with members in Northern and Southern California, soon had a
shoe of its own to drop -- but instead threw it at Stern within
hours of SEIU's merger announcement. UHW claims it has enough member
signatures to hold a vote to disaffiliate from SEIU, an announcement
that drew instant rebuke from the International.
"UHW leaders," charged a second SEIU press release Friday, "are apparently unwilling to accept the democratic processes
of this union and are instead hiding behind opposition that they
manufactured after a months-long campaign of scare tactics and
misrepresentations to their members."
is the country's biggest and fastest-growing union, but has recently
been beset by corruption scandals triggered by allegations of
wrongdoing committed by disgraced Los Angeles leaders -- including Tyrone Freeman, with whose former local Rosselli's members are to merge; SEIU
even figures into the investigation of disgraced Illinois governor Rod
Blagojevich. The fight between the Stern-controlled SEIU international
and Rosselli's rebels promises to be long and bitter.
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