Tuesday, February 26, 2008

SEIU: A House Divided Against Itself

McQ points out that the Service Employees International Union is pulling out all the stops to help Barack Obama. At the same time, the SEIU is facing an internal rebellion against charges that union boss Andy Stern has put his own power and reputation ahead of the goal of improving work conditions for SEIU members. The basic complaint among the union rank and file is that Stern has negotiated agreements to unionize with employers, guaranteeing them labor peace by conceding worker conditions. That way the SEIU member rolls and contributions expand, even if members don't actually see any benefits:

According to an inside source, this “strategy” would gain for the union 300,000 members, but under the condition of template contracts, and in exchange for continued support of a bad-for-workers national health care bill that could provide a windfall for the hospitals. Plus, though the members would receive representation form the locals, they would be directly signed up to the International to avoid future jurisdictional problems.

This is the direction that the SEIU is headed: a streamlined, top-down, lobbying machine with many members with few rights.

The fight culminated in the recent resignation of Sal Rosselli, the leader of a 150,000-member local in California -- who formerly headed the more than 600,000-member SEIU California State Council:

Rosselli's basic complaint is that Stern and top SEIU officials have sidestepped local union leaders to make critical decisions and have merged locals without giving members a voice.

"Over the past two years, a stark difference has evolved between SEIU's projected image and its real world practices," he wrote to Stern. "An overly zealous focus on growth, growth at any cost, apparently has eclipsed SEIU's commitment to its members."

The anti-Stern dissidents have established a website to build support for (excuse the expression) 'change. The fight may be worth watching as the 2008 campaign unfolds, and we see just how effective SEIU is in delivering the votes of its members.

Hat Tip: Freedom's Watch

1 comment:

Adam Glickman said...

This article in the SF Chronicle suggests that Sal Rosselli isn't as interested in union democracy as he claims. It’s hard to take him seriously when he is guilty of the things he accuses others of. Seems to me he is hurting the members that he represents with his personal ambitions and scurrilous attacks.