We have been reporting on the clash between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and it’s California subsidiary the United Healthcare Workers (UHW). We have talked of the battle between the two, how the SEIU has strong-armed or dismissed the elected members of the UHW board, and how at last thousands of members of what was the UHW are attempting to leave to start a new union to rival the SEIU.
But, it appears that the SEIU is a tad unhappy that so many of its California members would quit to form a new union. And so, in order to stop the rival union’s birth, the SEIU is using what the L.A. Times is snickeringly referring to as “anti-union tactics” to stop the bleeding.
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 irony is rich, isn’t it? Maybe not irony. Maybe just straight out hypocrisy.
The SEIU, it appears, is doing its level best to quash any possibility that hospitals and healthcare outlets that currently operate as SEIU union strongholds in California might be permitted to call a vote on whether members wish to stay with the SEIU or to join the fledgling new union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers.
In fact, according to the LATimes, the SEIU is using the very same argument that many businesses use to disparage unionizing efforts: that the NUHW is “intimidating or misleading workers” during the decertification vote. And the SEIU wants federal officials to stop the attempts at voting on the matter.
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.
The irony is not wasted on the members of what might be a new union:
“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.”
What’s the saying? “It all depends upon whose ox is getting gored”?
There is another very amusing thing the SEIU is doing and it smacks of desperation. The SEIU is accusing the new union of being “dominated by employers” because one of the consultants for the NUHW is a fellow named Clint Reilly. It turns out that Mr. Reilly employs some janitors that happen to be members of the SEIU in some commercial real estate he owns.
But check out Mr. Reilly’s pedigree:
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.
This guy is a long-time Union hack, yet the SEIU, the most powerful union in the country, is trying to paint him as an adversarial “employer” to stop its own members from deciding what union they want to belong to? Now THAT is desperation.
So, one might think that the biggest slave to unions that ever set foot in the White House would be intent on getting this settled. Think again. Barack Obama has allowed his National Labor Relations Board to sit on this, to slow things down, to try and run out the clock giving the powerful SEIU all the time it needs to kill the new union movement.
Quid pro quo. The SEIU donated millions to Obama and Obama is helping the union destroy its rival… even if it does mean that another union is the target and even if he is making sure the worker’s voices cannot be heard.
It isn’t about the workers with Big Unions. It isn’t about helping the economy with Barack Obama. It’s about control of the huge pot of dues money. That is the first and last matter and all that Obama and the SEIU is concerned with. And we all know that money is power.
Workers be damned.