A press release just issued by the Washington headquarters of the Service Employees Union International announced it has served trusteeship papers on its rebel health-care workers local, known as the United Healthcare Workers-West. The Oakland-based UHW, headed by its president, Sal Rosselli, has been engaged over the last few years in a struggle with SEIU's executive board, led by its president, Andy Stern, over the latter's program of consolidating the union's locals into more centralized mega-locals. In particular, Stern has ordered that 65,000 UHW members, who care for home shut-ins, be removed from Rosselli's control and placed into one giant local of long-term-care employees, based in Los Angeles.
Above: SEIU president Andy Stern
At a teleconference yesterday, Rosselli sounded both conciliatory and
defiant as he declared his willingness to follow the recent recommendations of
an outside arbitrator regarding the increasingly toxic relationship
between UHW and its parent organization. Yet it was clear that Rosselli
was offering an olive branch only on his own terms, which seemed to
promise renewed conflict with Stern.
And, sure enough, Stern and SEIU's
international officers announced today they were ordering Rosselli to cede control of UHW and its assets. That
order calls for the removal of Rosselli and all of UHW's elected
officers, who will be temporarily replaced with Stern appointees. The
press release did not, however, explain how SEIU intended to enforce its decree if UHW ignores the trusteeship order. A teleconference has been
called by SEIU for noon, Wednesday, Pacific Time, to explain its side
of the unfolding drama.
Update: UHW has responded to the SEIU announcement with its own press release. The statement, among other things, declares, “Today's action by Andy Stern imposing a trusteeship against the members of United Healthcare West has the effect of declaring martial law against those advocating for the right to vote and other democratic principles in their own union.
UHW has rejected this imposition.”