Why is UNITE HERE shipping its war to Canada?

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Sudbury Solidarity
Why is UNITE HERE shipping its war to Canada?

These letters arrived at my office today.  I saw people were talking about this before but this is a whole new kettle of fish.  Why the hell is UNITE HERE suing other unions or telling bosses to keep workers money when there are real problems to be solved, like so many people being laid off? 

Letter from Workers United

Dear                                                     Monday, May 11, 2009

With deep regret, I must let you know that UNITE HERE is aggressively attacking Workers United here in Canada.  Please find attached at letter I sent last week to Paul Clifford, President of UNITE HERE Local 75 and John Wilhelm, President/Hospitality Industry, UNITE HERE detailing their actions.

In addition, Paul Clifford and Nick Worhaug, Canadian Director of UNITE HERE launched a law suit against me and Workers United, claiming all the assets of our union -- built by generations of low-waged garment workers -- as their own.  That Paul would make such claims on garment workers' assets, after members here in Ontario already facilitated the retirement of almost $2.5 million of Local 75's debt, is greed at its worst.

The failed merger of UNITE HERE is deeply regrettable.  Throughout, we have worked hard to keep ugly, public discourse about this split out of the Canadian house of labour.  In March, we negotiated an agreement with the former HERE Local 75 to separate our two unions in Ontario. Now, Paul and Nick want to flame the fires of this conflict and bring this divisive fight to Canada by ripping up that agreement.

We did not wish for this conflict but neither will we back down from this blatant attack.  Our union has been here since the days Toronto's sweatshops were first organized and we will answer UNITE HERE's attack campaign with all the vigor our history demands.

In Solidarity,

Alex Dagg,
Secretary Treasurer, Workers United

2nd Letter that was attached

John Wilhelm, President/Hospitality Industry, UNITE HERE

Paul Clifford, President, UNITE HERE Local 75

This week, through your counsel, Jim Hayes of Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre & Cornish, you have written the employers represented by the Ontario Council of Workers United, instructing them to no longer recognize almost 9,000 workers' union representatives.  You have even suggested that employers take the dues money paid by those members and instead of sending them to the union, as required by more than 100 collective agreements, keep the funds.

We feel this is union busting at its worst and it will be answered by those same members of the Ontario Council of Workers United, who voted unanimously to leave the failed UNITE HERE merger and form Workers United. 

But the actions you have taken against workers at two newly organized hotels in the Niagara region, instructing hotel owners to not bargain first collective agreements with their union, puts you in league with the most virulent anti-union employers. 

At the Courtyard Marriott in Niagara Falls, an area your union represented for years and never organized in, workers fought a long hard battle for the union last fall.  A small band of hotel workers signed cards, fought back against the employer and won their right to bargain a collective agreement in a vote by the Ontario Labour Relations Board.  Your actions at the Courtyard Marriott have succeeded in stopping first contract negotiations.  Where the employer failed to deny hotel workers their right to organize and bargain, you have temporarily succeeded.  If, in the name of the incredibly divisive, bigger internal conflict in UNITE HERE, you wanted to hurt the right of hotel workers to organize, then you have succeeded and congratulations would be in order, though only hotel owners would give them.

At the Holiday Inn in St. Catharines though, your interference is even more despicable.  There, as many in the Ontario labour movement know, workers trying to organize were subjected to a vicious anti-union campaign that saw Diane Barnim, a key leader of the organizing committee, fired from her job.  A strong legal fight and campaign by the Ontario Council (now of Workers United), supported by labour activists across Canada called "I Stand with Diane", won her not only her job back but automatic certification of the union, as allowed for under the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

Now, as we've been working to prepare for first contract negotiations, you John Wilhelm, the President of Hospitality of UNITE HERE International, instructs the employer to not recognize Diane's union.  What did Diane Barnim, a housekeeper in St. Catharines, who has shown remarkable courage, do to deserve this?  Why would you ever think to stoop so low as to put low-waged hotel workers, struggling to organize a union, in the middle of the much-discussed UNITE HERE/Workers United conflict?  Why, instead of Standing with Diane would you instead use her as a pawn in your international union's internal conflict?  You, and Paul Clifford, International Vice-President of UNITE HERE and President of Local 75, who supported these actions, should be ashamed of yourselves.

With these actions, you're clearly telling hotel workers in Niagara that they have to fight their employers to organize and also have to fight union leaders like you to win their union. 

I am writing to you today to tell you these workers have won the hard fight against their bosses and they will win against you as well.

On behalf of the members of the Workers United Ontario Council, I want to make it clear to you that we STAND WITH DIANE and the workers at the Holiday Inn and Courtyard Marriott who want their union and will get their union, despite your pathetic attempts to deny them that right.  We do not stand with you.

In disgust,

Alex Dagg, Director, Ontario Council

Secretary Treasurer, Workers United

Vivienne

Wilhelm and Clifford's methods are disgraceful. We at Worker's United Local 2347 successfully organized the Courtyard Marriott and won a fight against a crappy employer in St Catharines and for them to assume they can now come to Niagara and as a HOSPITALITY UNION stop bargaining. That IS NOT the type of Union I want to belong to. Neither Wilhelm nor Clifford had anything to do with Niagara and in fact when they got what they asked for back from Ontario Council they DID NOT want Niagara back. They were UNSUCCESSFUL in taking our dues and will be UNSUCCESSFUL in getting us back. I am a dues paying member of Worker's United, Ontario Council Local 2347. The type of Union that organizes the unorganized and doesn't step on the toes of the unorganized. Wilhelm and Clifford should be ashamed of themselves. We are not property, we are human's. Member's who negotiated our contracts and chose what Union we wanted to represent us and you at UNITE HERE are not now nor will you ever be our Union again I do believe there are many members out there that feel the same way as I do

Vivienne

Wilhelm and Clifford's methods are disgraceful. We at Worker's United Local 2347 successfully organized the Courtyard Marriott and won a fight against a crappy employer in St Catharines and for them to assume they can now come to Niagara and as a HOSPITALITY UNION stop bargaining. That IS NOT the type of Union I want to belong to. Neither Wilhelm nor Clifford had anything to do with Niagara and in fact when they got what they asked for back from Ontario Council they DID NOT want Niagara back. They were UNSUCCESSFUL in taking our dues and will be UNSUCCESSFUL in getting us back. I am a dues paying member of Worker's United, Ontario Council Local 2347. The type of Union that organizes the unorganized and doesn't step on the toes of the unorganized. Wilhelm and Clifford should be ashamed of themselves. We are not property, we are human's. Member's who negotiated our contracts and chose what Union we wanted to represent us and you at UNITE HERE are not now nor will you ever be our Union again I do believe there are many members out there that feel the same way as I do

Oshawa Activist

Please help me understand how Workers United could have organized anything last fall if it did not even come into existence until two months ago?

3to1majority

Vivienne:

Alex Dagg's second letter says that the members of the Ontario Council unanimously voted to leave UNITE HERE and form Workers United.

When did the members vote to leave UNITE HERE?  How many of the thousands of members voted?  What were the results?

When did the members vote to form Workers United?  How many of the thousands of members voted?  What were the results?

 

Does the UNITE HERE International Union Constitution allows Local Unions or Councils like the Ontario Council to secede?

 

Are your comments approved by Andy Stern's SEIU public relations department?

global_crisis

3to1majority:

Since you're in the mood to post red-hearings, answer me this batman:

How many members of the UNITE HERE Local 75 executive board are staff and have never worked in a hotel?  I can name two.

How many members of your solidarity committee were elected and not apointed by the inner circle?  What exactly IS the process to get on your solidarity committee anyway?

Why do staff of your union regularly appear in public (the media, demos, etc) and speak on behalf of members?  Why can't your members be allowed to speak for themselves?

When do you have elections for your shop stewards?  What happens to the shop stewards who bring forward things that you don't like?  How many stewards is it that you have removed because you don't like their challenging questions?

Why has President Paul Clifford been president for more than 16 years now?  Maybe that's a normal time in the union movement, but can you name anyone who has been allowed to launch a serious election campaign against him since he came to power?

I think it's kinda of funny for UNITE HERE supporters to throw out the democracy card when the UNITE HERE local right here in Toronto has some serious questions to answer about their democracy.

And no, this message was not approved by any public relations department.

PS.  I think it's time that this war be finished.  Obviously the merger didn't work.  There is a global crisis happening.  Working people in the hospitality industry need unions that are actually going to do something about that.  HERE needs to just let it go and allow Workers United to get to work doing the organizing etc that they refuse to do.

TW

@ Sudbury Solidarity

Nice leading question as the title for as a discussion thread... For the record, UNITE HERE is an international union, representing members in both Canada and the US. 'Workers United', the illegally-formed so-called 'union' also claims to be an international union. In fact, days after Alex Dagg attempted to disaffiliate from UNITE HERE, she was selected as second-in-charge of the Workers United international body at a gathering in Philadelphia, PA. I'm not a geographer, but I think Philadelphia is in the United States.

I'm sure you guys at Workers United have a long list of things you'd like to throw against the wall in the hopes something will stick. You should probably scratch 'petty nationalism' off the list.

 

@ global_crisis

I think it was Willow, Vivienne and others who raised the issue of democracy when they claimed that 150,000 UNITE HERE members have voted to disaffiliate, form Workers United and join SEIU. Again, we're still waiting to hear more about those votes. How were they conducted? Who was notified in advance? What were the results (in total numbers, not percentages)? We've been asking again and again on babble, and no one seems to be able to answer. I see you're a new member - you should go back on various threads and count how many times we've asked to find out more about these 'votes.' Instead of hearing answers to these important questions, all we get is ad hominem attacks and unsubstantiated claims.

 

We're still waiting...

Sudbury Solidarity

TW I know these unions are international.  What I don't like is this bad for the labour movement fight is now going on here in Canada as well as in the US.  There was a deal to split the union here and now UNITE HERE is launching law suits? Why would they do that?  Who does that help?  What union would tell management to keep workers' dues? Workers need unions now more than ever.  They need to be fighting at work and not in court rooms.  This whole thing is just crazy and bad for everyone.  UNITE HERE should follow the deal and leave those workers alone.

Vivienne

It's like beating a dead horse TW and 3 to 1 Majority you are stuck on how many voted to dissaffiliate. We signed petitions to leave. Past experience with Local 75 told us in Niagara we DIDN'T, DON'T AND WON'T HAVE OR WANT anything to do with Unite Here. THE MERGER FAILED. Unite Here is just once again going after the MONEY and they as an INTERNATIONAL HOSPITALITY UNION should dissolve themselves for the antics they are trying to pull down here in Niagara. You call us an illegal union what the heck do you call Unite Here demanding our employer's don't pay our dues to Ontario Council. The same Ontario Council that absorbed over 2 million dollars of Local 75 debt. The same Ontario Council they made a deal with and got what they asked for back and now they come along and stomp on 1st contract negotiations, try and tell our employers who OUR, THE MEMBER'S, UNION is and what to do with our dues money. If this to you is a LEGAL UNION then I'm sorry I'D RATHER BELONG TO THE ILLEGAL WORKER'S UNITED, THEY CARE ABOUT MEMBERS, UNITE HERE CARES ABOUT MEMBERS DUES MONEY WHETHER IT BE THEIR MEMBER'S OR ANOTHER UNIONS DUES BUT JUST THE DUES........We have new member's to protect why can't we get on with that.......Once again Unite Here got what they asked for from Ontario Council now they're reniging when will it end???????

stop raiding

Vivienne - I agree, it's time to get on with it. WU has a new affiliate - the extremely functional, democratic and well resourced SEIU. Just move on and let the courts resolve any residual issues on both sides of the border.

global_crisis

No one from UNITE HERE have answered any of MY questions.  Funny that.  Maybe tomorow.

 

TW:

Would you like some tartar sauce for your red hearing?  Are you a staff member at UNITE HERE?  Or should I add "posting to blogs" to my list of things UNITE HERE members are not allowed to?

Vivienne

Stop Raiding We at W U HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET ON WITH IT. Right down to negotiating a deal with Unite Here Local 75 and giving Paul Clifford everything he asked for. He DID NOT ask for Niagara back and yet now starts a lawsuit and sends letter's to our employer's. As always with HERE it comes down to MONEY. They can't get on with it they don't have the income so they come after us. We in Niagara haven't been a part of Local 75 for a few years and yet now they do this.......Stop Courtyard Marriott worker's who chose LOCAL 2347 NOT LOCAL 75 to represent them, stop bargaining at a hotel where our Union was attacked because of the issues with the employer firing the back bone of the organizing drive and being ordered to take her back and the campaigne "I Stand With Diane" being bashed in other blogs. Yet now here comes Unite Here Local 75 to stop negotiations. Yes Stop Raiding it is time to let us go and get on with it. YOU ALSO NEED TO LEAVE OUR AFFILIATION OUT OF THIS IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. As is being proven once again the HERE side wants it all and they don't want to have to do anything to get it. They figure the courts will give it to them......Obviously that's not working for them in the States so now they're here trying to take us over WHEN WE WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM...I do believe we at Worker's United have been trying to get on with it and now HERE is trying to stop us why??????

 

TW

@ global_crisis

To answer your questions:

I know of only one Local 75 Executive Board member or officer who wasn't at one point a hotel worker. It's kind of a misleading question, however. UNITE HERE believes that all unions benefit when they have a program to bring more and more members into leadership positions. I would guess there isn't a union in North America with more rank-and-file members in leadershp positions (per capita) than UNITE HERE. However, that doesn't mean if you weren't at one point a hotel worker, you don't have the chance to be a leader in the union. Working people are all engaged in the same fight everywhere, and we grow more powerful when we join together, not when we fight a holier-than-thou battle for worker cred. Besides, I'm not sure your own leadership stands up to the standard you set - I wonder if Bruce Raynor or Alex Dagg have ever made a bed or sewn a garment.

As you probably know, the Executive Board is Local 75's elected leadership group. Along with the officers, they are the governing body for the Local. Executive Board members are elected through a general membership vote. Any member in good standing can run for a position. The Solidarity Committee is an informal group of active, voluntary leaders that meets along with the Executive Board. The Solidarity Committee is a way to continually grow our group of leaders, to share leadership experience and to increase member involvement and participation.

I've gone back through dozens of articles online, and I find Local 75 members are almost always the spokespeople in press encounters.  I simply don't agree with your characterization re who speaks for the union. The confusion might partially be that many Local 75 staff used to be rank-and-file members...

Elections for Shop Stewards occur when positions are available.

Paul Clifford has been President for as long as has because he keeps winning elections for the position. It's as simple as that. You don't have to be "allowed to launch a serious election campaign" if you want to run for any elected position in the Local - you can just get nominated, and then run. That's about it...

Local 75 has a really high level of membership involvement at every level. The Local has an amazing reputation as an active, engaged, member-driven union. I think if you ask around you'll find that to be true.

So, global_crisis, I've answered your questions - how about you, Vivienne and others anwer my questions:

  • How many workers, by shop, voted to disaffiliate from UNITE HERE in Ontario? (total numbers, not percentages) How were these votes conducted?
  • How many workers voted to affiliate with SEIU? How were these votes conducted?
  • Are you really the victims of this fight? Dagg's staff, along with help from SEIU in the US, aided an attempted raid of a Local 75 hotel this past winter. Unite partisans, Workers United, and SEIU in the US have sent anti-union leaflets to our members, robocalled them at home, and visited them at work. You have attempted to occupy offices, change locks at local offices in the US and tried to seize assets and property across North America. Who are the aggressors in this fight?

 

@ Vivienne

I'm glad you've finally admitted that Workers United was illegally established. I guess it's a start...

 

Finally, Bruce Raynor was suspended today but he's refusing to leave.

Least. dignified. exit. ever.

Rambo Megaphone

I am SO SICK of UNITE HERE people!!! Who cares about STUPID VOTING anyway?!!! Everybody knows the workers didnt vote to leave!!!!! Everybody knows the workers didnt vote to join SEIU!!!!!!  DUH!

HERE thinks its "CONSTITUTION" is so important? What does a constitution matter? If I disagree with the majority in a union obviously I can break away. If your going to lose you just leave. Thats the way it goes. Thats how new unions start. DUH!!

Plus, Andy, Bruce and Alex wanted it this way. DUH!!!

TW, who cares if Bruce Raynor and Alex Dagg werent workers first??!! That doesnt mean people cant still accuse Paul Clifford of never being a worker. Some people can be good never-worker-leaders and some people just cant be never-worker-leaders. Anybody can see the difference.  DUH!!!!

Are you going to tell global_crisis Alex Dagg has been DIRECTOR of her union longer than Paul Clifford????  Will you say global_crisis is a hypocrite?????  Hypocrisy doesnt matter.  Only beating HERE matters!  DUH!!!!!

Vivienne

TW I never said Worker's United was illegally established I was being facisious. We were no more illegally formed, then the deal with Unite Here Local 75 to leave Ontario Council. 

You say

As you probably know, the Executive Board is Local 75's elected leadership group. Along with the officers, they are the governing body for the Local. Executive Board members are elected through a general membership vote. Any member in good standing can run for a position. The Solidarity Committee is an informal group of active, voluntary leaders that meets along with the Executive Board. The Solidarity Committee is a way to continually grow our group of leaders, to share leadership experience and to increase member involvement and participation.

Seems to me you're saying the same thing I said about how we came to demerge from Unite Here without the numbers or percentages. You do the math if 80% of 150000 people signed the petitions that leaves what number???? 120000 is that what you want or would you like the signed petitions posted as well. As I said GET OVER IT WE ARE WORKER'S UNITED ONTARIO COUNCIL YOU ARE UNITE HERE.......

Are we the victims in this fight....When I as a steward get told my step 2 grievance meeting has been cancelled because Unite Here reared it's ugly head in Fort Erie after OUR ONTARIO COUNCIL  gave Paul Clifford what he asked for back I'd have to say a BIG YES WE THE MEMBERS OF LOCAL 2347 ARE THE VICTIMS IN THIS FIGHT along with our newly organized hotels that can't negotitate with us and all the other BROTHER'S AND SISTER'S OF WORKER'S UNITED  because another UNION stepped in and demanded OUR MEMBERS DUES BE HELD BY THE EMPLOYER AND THAT UNITE HERE CALLS US ILLEGAL where in God's name do you think we aren't the victims...........We never went near Unite Here EMPLOYER'S, we regrettably left behind member's that Paul Clifford wanted back.......

My experience with Local 75 was absolutely nothing like what you discribed......

Finally did Unite Here follow the constitution and bylaws when they suspended the President??????? I somehow don't think they did least wise not the original bylaws and constitution....

Vivienne

Oshawa Activist Unite Here Ontario Council Local 2347, which is now Worker's United Ontario Council Local 2347 in Niagara organized the 2 hotels last fall in Niagara. Unite Here Local 75 DID NOT organize these hotels.

global_crisis

TW:

You got back to me and made appearances to answer my questions.  Too bad you are mostly spewing rhetoric and empty slogans that are not proven on the ground.

Firstly, you made an assumption. And we all know that making assumptions makes an ass out of you and me. Well, in this case, mostly you but I digress. You assume that I'm a member of Workers United and that Alex Dagg and Bruce Raynor are my "Leaders".  I never said I was a member of Workers United.  Dagg and Raynor are certainly not my “Leaders”.  People I tend to look to for inspiration tend to be of a much more revolutionary in nature.  But I’m not here to talk about Workers United or myself; I’m here to talk about YOU and Local 75.

With your insistence to talk about “Leaders” I could not help but be reminded of something.  Ever watch the Simpsons?  The episode where Homer and family go join the Movementarians, a religious cult?

It's season 9 episode 13, I looked it up.  See, I can be a “researchorganizer” too!  Re-watching that episode (via this link: http://www.123video.nl/playvideos.asp?MovieID=508850&CatID=11&mnu=3&CatOms=Tekenfilm%20&%20Animatie) made me laugh. 

The similarities are striking.  TW have you ever sat in a “Circle of Shame”?  It sounds awfully familiar to some things I’ve heard go on inside the HERE machine.  They even talk about the “ultimate weapon, our lawyers” which certainly seems to be the case here considering the path of destruction your lawyers are strewing all over Ontario these days. 

And of course, once confronted, the leadership of the Movementarians is not interested in tending to their followers, they just try to take the money and run.  Luckily, via their own ineptitude and greed, they are not successful which seems likely to be the outcome here.  Only thing missing from the episode is a reference to keeping records on the mental weaknesses and presure points of members and staff so you can better manipulate them otherwise known as Pink Sheeting (something your [name removed by moderator] is well known to practice).

But enough with the late night TV watching and back to my original questions.  Okay, so if it’s so possible to run for election in Local 75 without authorization… name me three people who have mounted serious campaigns against Paul Clifford.  And don’t tell me that everyone loves him and so they don't run; Paul is not that handsome.  Okay, fine I’ll go easy on you, you just have to name me one.  And tell me what percentage of the vote they received.

I also think you may be confusing member driven with using members as props.  I have watched the leadership of Local 75 for a long time and I rarely see members being treated as more than props.  And you didn’t answer the question about the solidarity committee: What is the process for getting on the committee?  I’ve heard that the phrase “they have to earn their place on the committee” used by some leaders of the local.  Doesn’t sound very democratic to me.  Earn to whom?  If it was to their fellow workers, then elections would reflect that.  But you can’t have the “wrong” people on your solidarity committee, now can you?

As for staff talking on behalf of workers, take a look at this newspaper article from just the other day (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/632963) for an example of where staff is talking for the membership.  I’m sorry but being a member of the union while you work at Yale doesn’t qualify you for speaking on behalf of Toronto hotel workers.  Just because your staff pay dues doesn’t make them legitimate members.

I do think that you have done a very good job at fostering a reputation as this super duper local.  It’s somewhat shocking then, for progressive people like me, to be confronted with the reality of the situation.  I used to believe in the spell you cast of a member driven local but it turned out to be so much hot air.

Maybe someday, hotel workers in Toronto will be able to not have to choose between a mobbed up local or a local run by a cult and have a local that is actually run by the membership.

 

Unionist

Hello, all.

It's sad for me to see workers fighting over institutional allegiances, although I appreciate it may be more than that.

Just a question of information, when anyone has a moment. Could someone please list for me all the factions at play here (SEIU, UNITE, HERE, UNITE HERE, Workers' United, hard for me to get the full picture) and just say which ones are branches of internationals and which are purely Canadian?

Thanks.

TW

@ global_crisis

Your message = UNITE HERE is a cult

My response = yawn

(ps: still waiting for answers to my questions re the disaffiliation votes!)

(pps: finding one example of something doesn't disprove a general claim)

(ppps: I love the Simpsons too!)

 

@ Vivienne

So, Vivienne, your assertion is that 120,000 UNITE HERE members signed petitions to disaffiliate from UNITE HERE. Really? Because I haven't even heard Stern, Raynor or Dagg make that claim. Are you sure you want to try to convince the readers of this discussion thread that 120,000 members either signed a petition or voted to leave UNITE HERE, form WU and then affiliate with SEIU? I'll take up your (sarcastic) offer, and suggest you post some kind of evidence to support this claim... Otherwise, watch this: Hey everyone, 28 million Canadians just voted to give me a solid gold Cadillac! Yay! Bring on the golden Cadillac! What? You want proof? But I just typed in the words above - isn't that enough?

 

@ Unionist

UNITE and HERE were both International Unions before the merger, and the UNITE Ontario Council was the Ontario entity of the UNITE IU in Ontario. After the merger of UNITE and HERE to form UNITE HERE, the Ontario Council was an affiliate of the UNITE HERE IU. Sometime in late winter/early spring of this year, factions of UNITE HERE (most of them loyal to the former UNITE-side leadership) from places across the IU attempted to disaffiliate from UNITE HERE. They claimed to have formed a new international 'union' called Workers United.

The Ontario Council now claims to belong to Workers United, which was 'founded' in Philadelphia. SEIU in the US has stepped into what would otherwise be an internal dispute, and is attempting to take over as much of UNITE HERE as they can. Workers United in the US has affiliated with SEIU in the US. The same is supposed to be true of the Workers United Ontario Council and SEIU Canada, but I'm not sure the arranged marriage here has been such a success. I think SEIU Canada is dealing with their own "Made in Canada" problem in the form of Dagg and the Ontario Council.

TW

@ Rambo Megaphone

You and Vivienne seem to be fixated on Paul Clifford and UNITE HERE Local 75. There are 450,000 workers across North America whose standard of living is at stake in this fight (never mind the countless unorganized workers yet to join the union). It's not always about Paul Clifford all the time. Honestly... I'm sorry you think only beating HERE matters.

global_crisis

No TW, my point is NOT that HERE is a cult.  My point is that Local 75 is UNDEMOCRATIC.  

At least in a cult, the followers have the hope that they will end up in a better place once they die (or commit suicide or whatever).  

Local 75 members are trapped into paying dues into an organization where they know they have no say over how money is spent (organizing programs that don't organize anything for years on end, [name removed] expense account that includes $1200 dinners for 5 of his friends, etc).

PS.  Maybe someday, we can change this local for the better.

PPS. In the meantime, can you just do me one favour?  Stop opening up your solidarity commitee meetings with the chants of "Paul, Paul, Paul"

TW

@ global-crisis

I think you misheard the chant. We were discussing the actions of Raynor, Dagg and Stern, and were chanting "Appalled! Appalled! Appalled!"

CommCwby

First I would like to state that this will be my only post. I will not read your responses. I would rather be out organizing to keep my union together. Second, I haven't but glanced over the posts, so I am not responding to any specific questions, but rather the general tone of this thread. Here are a couple of articles to give a little perspective on the situation (one of which written by an SEIU organizer that has since defected):

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-0e-meyerson13-2009may13,0,3791945...

http://talkingunion.wordpress.com/2009/05/09/crossing-the-line/

I know that these articles do not speak to what is going on in Toronto and local 75, but they do give a sense of the ugliness of the whole fight. A huge part of this fight is about money and the nearly $5 billion dollars in assets that is the Amalgamated Bank. So now that we have a fight over money, we might as well use the opportunity to try to coopt the industry of our friends (sense the sarcasm?) because we don't know how to organize our own industry, so we should try to steal theirs.

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/5/1/seiu_takes_millions_in_loans_from

Listen, nobody here on this thread seems to have any idea of what is actually going on in the shops and on the ground in this fight (not even those members here that are posting). I am not claiming to have any idea either. But I do plead that you try to figure it out. And not just by asking your WU rep or PR person. By please try to get the full perspective. Go talk to the people at Local 75 yourselves and ask THEM why they are suing instead of asking WU why UH is suing. That might actually get you somewhere other than fed by propaganda. You can publish all of the Workers United letters that you want, but it's not going to help you to get a full picture of what is going on.

Once you ask around and get the full picture, stop and ask yourself what you believe in and what kind of union you want to be a part of. Personally, I don't understand how anyone could want to be part of a union that is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to try to destroy another union (for example, $60 million to subsized dues to try to lure UH members to SEIU/WU for a cheaper dues package). And I don't understand why anyone would want to be a part of a union that is concerned more with membership numbers than actually fighting for its members. (Just look to California where SEIU's 3rd largest local has seceded. Now this is not to say that there are not fighting locals within SEIU/WU, but I am generalizing the whole of the union). But those are decisions for you all to make as individuals once you have become informed.

As a final note to all of you (especially TW): STOP INDULGING THIS PETTY BICKERING ON THIS THREAD, STOP SITTING ON YOUR HANDS, AND GO GET INVOLVED IN THIS. IF YOU BELIEVE SO STRONGLY IN THE SIDE THAT YOU ARE DEFENDING, THEN GO GET INVOLVED AND BE A PART OF THIS FIGHT.

Sincerely,

CommCwby

Rambo Megaphone

VIVIENNE is right! The ONTARIO COUNCIL IS ALWAYS THE INNOCENT VICTIM! DUH!

In April 2008 UNITE HERE Local 75 defeated the Ontario Council when it tried to take over and destroy Local 75 (it was only 48% of the Council membership - worth destroying).  Local 75 had the nerve to force Alex Dagg and Bruce Raynor to give autonomy to Local 75 within the Ontario Council so that it could keep doing its stupid rank-and-file leadership development program and what they call "HOTEL WORKERS RISING"!  You see: LOCAL 75 VICTIMIZED THE ONTARIO COUNCIL! DUH!!

In July 2008 UNITE HERE Local 75 defeated the Ontario Council's behind-the-scenes support for a Local 75 dissident (small dissident groups are always right, obviously) to form a front union called CHEW (Canadian Hospitality and Entertainment Workers) that raided Local 75 during contract negotiations at the the Fairmont Royal York hotel. Local 75 (cult) won less rooms for housekeepers and a 2-year contract so the 900 Royal York workers will be in "city-wide negotiations" next year with the rest of GTA hotel workers. (Local 75 just cares about Toronto anyway!)  Once again: LOCAL 75 VICTIMIZED THE ONTARIO COUNCIL! DUH!!!

In January 2009 UNITE HERE Local 75 defeated a new raid by CHEW (staffed with American SEIU organizers) on 5,000 workers in 30 hotels during the open period. What could be more clear: LOCAL 75 VICTIMIZED THE ONTARIO COUNCIL AGAIN! DUH!!!!

Any time the Ontario Council tried to smash Local 75, Local 75 ended up making the Ontario Council into victims! DUH!!!!!

Case closed. The Ontario Council is the victim. DUH!!!!!!

Hey global_crisis, I don't know about the "Paul, Paul Paul" chant, but don't you love the Ontario Council bandanas that say "Alex!" all over them? Local 75 has their cult leader, but the Ontario Council has a better glorified leader. DUH!!!!!!!

Vivienne

So the new member's who started to negotiate their contracts and were stopped dead by a letter sent to the employer by a Union that these member's never met AREN'T THE VICTIMS IN THIS..........Truely aren't all the member's victims when we have to fight to have our dues paid to our Union instead of dealing with 2nd step grievances or bargain first contracts. I do believe it is time to get on with what we're suppose to be doing not fighting to prove we are a Union and do function as a Union when left alone to do so and I do believe that is what Worker's United has and is still trying to do just get on with it. As for the, it should've been close to 80% and yes yesterday it was said that the percentage was almost 80...I'm sure Paul Clifford heard that number yesterday behind his locked building's doors.......So to correct myself the math equals almost 120000.

The Toronto Star story about the failed organizing campaigne is just about what happened to Diane, except instead of threatening to fire employee's this employer did fire his employee Diane...........Why is Unite Here stopping us from negotiating a first contract with this employer when they are having the same issues.......

What about the fact that Unite Here Local 75 got what they asked for back from Ontario Council and AREN'T SATISFIED WITH WHAT THEY ASKED FOR.

 

SO NOW CAN WE GET ON WITH IT........THE MERGER FAILED AND NOW BOTH UNIONS NEED TO GET ON WITH WHAT THEY'RE SUPPOSE TO DO......WE HAVE BEEN TRYING

winny pillow

Vivienne,

I have a couple of tips for you on the subject of making persuasive arguments.

Some claim the best way to package your argument for maximum effect is to employ proper spelling, punctuation and grammar. But you don't need me to tell you how wrong-headed that is, you know this well already.

In fact, the key is to use more capital letters, italics, and bold print.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking you are saying something stupid. Then I notice the point I was missing is right there in front of me, BOLD, ITALICIZED AND CAPITALIZED - and I realize you were right all along.

For extra emphasis, I recommend you check out another ultra-persuasive formatting tool, underlining.

 

 

Oshawa Activist

Winny Pillow

A good education and natural ability with words and style are lovely. For the rest of us, solid, honest content is all we can really manage. If you can't handle our painfully imperfect educations and writing abilities, try another site.

 

3to1majority

Vivienne:

If the letter from UNITE HERE to your employer is incorrect or illegal, why is your employer honouring it?

If you disagree with your employer's position, why don't you take action?

Why are your members not marching into your bosses' offices demanding that they ignore UNITE HERE's letter?

Why are hundreds of Workers United Ontario Council members not picketing the entrances to your workplace - Fort Erie Racetrack - demanding that your employer deal with Workers United Ontario Council?

When the then-UNITE HERE Ontario Council sent letters to UNITE HERE Local 75 employers last spring instructing them to bar Local 75 organizers from the properties, UNITE HERE Local 75 members took direct, militant action on the shop floor to force the employers to disregard the Ontario Council's instructions: why aren't your members doing the same?

If your employer cancels a grievance meeting or stops bargaining just because it received some letter from a union you say doesn't legally represent you, how much respect does your employer have for the strength of the Workers United Ontario Council?

Wouldn't now be the time to show your employer just how organized, strong and united the Workers United Ontario Council membership really is?

Rambo Megaphone

Hey 3to1majority don't be silly. Union members shouldnt have to fightDUH!

Union members should be represented and serviced. Workers United Ontario Council members expect service and representation. DUH!

Ontario Council members pay dues in exchange for service from Workers United. DUH!

Now the BOSSES ARENT LETTING WORKERS UNITED ONTARIO COUNCIL REPRESENT AND SERVICE! DUH!

Me, Vivienne, Willow, Jumping Janice and global_crisis we get it -  workers should not have to fight! DUH!

IT'S JUST NOT FAIR TO ASK WORKERS TO FIGHT FOR THEIR UNION! DUH!

Vivienne

3 to 1 majority it took LESS then a day to have our employer ignore the letter......My point is WE SHOULD NOT HAVE HAD TO SAY ANYTHING TO OUR EMPLOYER. IN FACT THE LETTER SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN SENT TO ANY PROPERTY THAT WASN'T ON PAUL CLIFFORD'S WANT AND GOT LIST. AND IT WAS PAUL'S WANT AND GOT LIST NO-ONE ELSES. And that TW is not being fixated on Paul Clifford. He's the one who sent the letter April 2008 demanding certain properties be released by Ontario Council and Ontario Council did that March of this year and Paul Clifford signed the agreement in late March. We in Niagara weren't on the list so WHY IS HE DOWN IN NIAGARA REARING HIS UGLY HEAD?????????? Why is he interfering in our Union????????? I also don't believe we should have to fight another Union for our Union......

3to1majority

Vivienne:

Are you so sure Paul Clifford himself personally wants the Niagara properties?

Do the letters claim that Workers United Ontario Council members belong to Local 75?

Aren't the letters to Ontario Council employers from the UNITE HERE International Union (of which Paul Clifford is only one of more than 30 Vice Presidents)?

And isn't it UNITE HERE's position that the individual locals - like Niagara Local 2347 - legally remain affiliates of UNITE HERE, not of Workers United Ontario Council (which has no legal standing)?

And aren't the employers directed to put the members' dues in escrow so that each Local's elected leaders can follow the law and stop paying dues to an illegal entity (Workers United Ontario Council)?

Isn't it now up to the membership and elected leaders of each Local union to take control of the situation?

Vivienne

WE THE MEMBERSHIP AND ELECTED LEADERS OF EACH LOCAL HAVE OR ARE IN THE PROCESS OF TAKING CONTROL OF THE SITUATION...As I said we in Fort Erie took less then 1/2 a day to get control back.......What makes us illegal???????Isn't it in the constitution that any Local can disaffiliate??????? As a past member of Local 75 I have no knowledge of their International Union so who in the HELL ARE THEY TO HAVE LETTER'S SENT TO MY WORK PLACE?????????? WHO IN THE HELL ARE THEY TO AID AN EMPLOYER EFFORTS TO STOP OUR ORGANIZING????????????????????AS A HOSPITALITY UNION, THEY CLAIM TO BE YET NOT THE UNION CONTACTED BY THE PROPERTIES IN NIAGARA, WHY ARE THEY STOPPING HOTEL WORKER'S FROM NEGOTIATING THEIR FIRST CONTRACT???????????IS THAT LEGAL?????????????????????


AND THE BIG ONE PAUL CLIFFORD TOLD ONTARIO COUNCIL WHAT PROPERTIES HE WANTED RELEASED HE GOT THEM.........SO WHY IS UNITE HERE ANYTHING BOTHERING ONTARIO COUNCIL??????????ONTARIO COUNCIL WASN'T SO ILLEGAL WHEN THEY MADE THE DEAL WHAT MAKES IT ILLEGAL NOW BECAUSE YOU SAY SO???????????

TW

@ Vivienne and others

I'm a little confused. You keep referencing an agreement between Paul Clifford/Local 75 and Workers United - is there really such an agreement? Before you respond 'yes' immediately, ask yourself if you've actually seen the agreement, or just heard about it from others. Or, was an agreement signed between UNITE HERE Local 75 and the UNITE HERE Ontario Council, before the Ontario Council attempted to (illegally) disaffiliate and (illegally) form Workers United? The timing here is critically important.

Regarding your question about what makes the Workers United Ontario Council illegal, I think you need to quote me the exact passage in the UNITE HERE constitution that permits factions of a union to hold unmonitored, unrecorded and unsupervised 'votes' and 'petition' drives, split from the union - while attemtping to take property, assets and members - and then attempt to raid UNITE HERE units and disrupt UNITE HERE activities. You find me that passage, and I'll stop arguing the disaffiliation is illegal.

By the way, there's another great article online about SEIU's disasterous mis-use of its own dwindling financial resources (to all the WU folks out there who are currently surviving on hand-outs from SEIU, this should be of special interest).

 

3to1majority

Vivienne:

You ask some important questions I am sure many people are thinking about:

Doesn't the Constitution allow disaffiliation?  No.  The UNITE HERE International Constitution is clear that disaffiliation is not allowed.  The Constitution makes secession or fostering secession violations for which members or elected officers can be brought up on charges.  Moreover, the Constitution says that the property of any affiliate that secedes immediately becomes the property of the UNITE HERE International Union.  The Constitution was ratified by vote of the democratically elected delegates from both the former-UNITE International Union and the former-HERE International Union at the merger convention in Chicago, Illinois in July 2004.

What makes the Ontario Council illegal? When several UNITE HERE affiliates - regional groups of Local Unions called "Joint Boards" in the U.S. and "Councils" in Canada - claimed they had disaffiliated from the UNITE HERE International Union to become Workers United/SEIU, the highest governing body of the UNITE HERE International Union, its General Executive Board, voted to declare invalid and revoke the charters of those affiliates.  The Ontario Council is one of those affiliates.  According to the Constitution, therefore, the Ontario Council has no legal standing.

If the Ontario Council is an illegal entity, how did Local 75 reach an agreement with it?  When UNITE HERE Local 75 reached a separation agreement with UNITE HERE Ontario Council in mid-March 2009, both were legally affiliates of the UNITE HERE International Union.  The separation agreement resolved various issues - bargaining rights, staff, finances, etc. - between two UNITE HERE affiliates on a local and provincial level.  Shortly after reaching that separation agreement, the Ontario Council claimed to disaffiliate from the UNITE HERE International Union.  According to the Constitution, the Ontario Council's charter immediately became invalid and was revoked, all its property became property of the UNITE HERE International Union and the Ontario Council became an entity with no legal standing.

Why is UNITE HERE sending letters to Ontario Council employers?  When the Ontario Council left UNITE HERE, it lost all legal standing and was, in effect, dissolved.  It no longer has any legal existence.   The letters advise the employers that, if they send the members' dues to the Ontario Council, they are sending workers' money to an illegal organization; they are asked to put the money aside.

What should Local Union members and elected leaders in Ontario do?  The many Local Unions that made up the Ontario Council - like Niagara Local 2347 - still have legal standing as affiliates of the UNITE HERE International Union because they have not individually disaffiliated.  The former Ontario Council Local Unions are now directly affiliated with UNITE HERE because the Ontario Council no longer exists.  Local leaders should contact the UNITE HERE International Union about how to move forward as legal organizations within UNITE HERE.

Philadelphia Local 634 is a good example for Ontario UNITE HERE Local Unions.  The 2,000 Philadelphia School District cafeteria workers of UNITE HERE Local 634 were part of the UNITE HERE Philadelphia Joint Board that claimed to disaffiliate from the UNITE HERE International Union.  Instead of following the Joint Board into an illegal non-existence, the Local 634 President, Executive Board and membership chose to remain affiliated with UNITE HERE.  When the School District recognized UNITE HERE Local 634 instead of the Joint Board, the Joint Board filed charges against the District.  The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board dismissed those charges on May 12, 2009, writing that the Joint Board "does not have standing to allege that the District violated" the Public Employees Relations Act.  Those 2,000 workers - part of the alleged 150,000 members of Workers United - remain members of UNITE HERE.

Unionist

Quote:
The UNITE HERE International Constitution is clear that disaffiliation is not allowed.  The Constitution makes secession or fostering secession violations for which members or elected officers can be brought up on charges.  Moreover, the Constitution says that the property of any affiliate that secedes immediately becomes the property of the UNITE HERE International Union.  The Constitution was ratified by vote of the democratically elected delegates from both the former-UNITE International Union and the former-HERE International Union at the merger convention in Chicago, Illinois in July 2004.

Good Lord.

With respect, how can anyone cite something like this approvingly?

Every union constitution should explicitly provide for the inalienable right of groups of workers to secede, based on a fair process of attempt at dispute mediation, and ultimately referendum vote if that fails.

Workers will leave, whether these cursed constitutions say they can or not. Might as well earn their support instead of trying to enforce it.

 

winny pillow

Unionist,

You seem to be a principled democrat, please help me understand your point.

The legitimacy of the Constitution

Whether you (or I) like it or not, the Constitution was approved by elected delegates representing workers from both sides of the merger. The former-UNITE representatives never claimed to oppose any part of the Constitution; in fact, some of its provisions are based on the Constitution of the former UNITE. Only when the Raynor faction realized it was facing democratic defeat in this summer's convention did they decide to secede. I am curious whether the Constitution of "Workers United", or SEIU for that matter, explicitly provides for the inalienable right of groups of workers to secede? I'm sure you are aware of how Andy Stern (Raynor's current patron) treats local leadership that shows any sign of independence - much less attempts to secede from the union...

Secession in democratic organizations

Tell me Unionist, if John McCain realized in advance that he would lose the US election, would he have the right to secede from the Union? Could he seize Arizona and Texas, call it "States United" and start collecting taxes from the citizens of those states? Let's even pretend that thousands of Texans signed petitions expressing support for McCain, would that give him the right to seize control of the state's property? Is that your understanding of democracy?

Analogies aside, do you truly believe that disaffected groups have the inalienable right to secede from organizations, unconditionally? What about an individual member who decides to stop paying dues, for whatever reason - should that be a legal or constitutional option? Because that's how it works in those worker utopias south of the border known as "Right to Work" States...

Options for losers

Losers within democratic organizations face numerous options beside secession. If Raynor had any confidence in his own leadership, he could have focused his efforts on mobilizing support among the membership for his candidacy. Or he could have accepted defeat with honour, and re-grouped to fight again another day. I know I'm a dreamer, but maybe he could even have acknowledged reality and retired to make way for new leadership. Instead he has made every effort to destroy the union, disrupt its activities, steal its assets, and divide the labour movement. And to this moment, he is pathetically clinging to power as "General President" of UNITE HERE, the very union he has set out to destroy, despite his humiliating suspension by the General Executive Board of UNITE HERE. I don't know if you call that fairness, democracy, dissent or something else. I call it being a sore loser.

Eagerly awaiting your thoughts, Unionist.

Unionist

winny pillow wrote:

The legitimacy of the Constitution

Whether you (or I) like it or not, the Constitution was approved by elected delegates representing workers from both sides of the merger.

Please be clear that I know little or nothing about any of the factions involved here and certainly don't side with any of them. IMHO, any union constitution, no matter how adopted (even if by referendum vote, which the one you're describing doesn't appear to have been so adopted), which seeks to "prohibit" a group of members (say, a bargaining unit) from seceding by free majority decision of those members, cannot be described as democratic. Just my opinion. I believe workers are sovereign, and attempts to dictate to them, no matter how well clothed in "legality" and "constitutionality", will inevitably fail.

Quote:
Secession in democratic organizations

Tell me Unionist, if John McCain realized in advance that he would lose the US election, would he have the right to secede from the Union?

No, I don't believe that any old group of citizens has the right to carve out a piece of a state and secede - unless they constitute a nation which freely and democratically determines that it no longer wishes to form part of some larger political entity.

But we're talking about trade unions here, not states. There is simply no parallel. I belonged to an international union for many years. When our Canadian members were unable, after many attempts, to have our concerns addressed within that framework, we voted (by secret universal ballot - not by delegate action) to "secede" and go our own way. We lost all (all) of our assets in so doing, right down to filing cabinets and typewriters (it was a while back). We had to squirrel away files and whatever we could hide or carry. There was, quite simply, no vehicle for peaceful and amicable separation within the international constitution.

You can declare the workers' will unlawful, but my goodness that's a hard one to enforce.

Quote:
Analogies aside, do you truly believe that disaffected groups have the inalienable right to secede from organizations, unconditionally? What about an individual member who decides to stop paying dues, for whatever reason - should that be a legal or constitutional option?

Absolutely not. Individual members who don't want to pay dues can quit their job and go work elsewhere, or not at all - their "choice". I'm talking about groups of workers within an enterprise or sector. I realize there may be grey areas, but I think, lacking a better criterion, the level of bargaining unit is a useful measure. That's the one recognized in Canadian law as having the right to choose or change unions, and I'm comfortable with that.

To sum up, I think bureaucratic methods are neither warranted nor effective in keeping unions together. I've seen much change in my working life. Those who relied on rules and regulations rarely succeeded in blocking that change. Union constitutions (IMO) need to provide for dispute resolution mechanisms, negotiation, mediation, etc. - and, when all else fails, orderly provision for secession through free and secret ballot.

3to1majority

Vivienne:

Winny Pillow and Unionist seem to have gotten into an interesting theoretical discussion that takes us a little off the topic at hand.  What are your reactions to my anwers to your questions?

TW

@ Unionist and winny pillow

You both raise some very good points. I totally agree with you especially, Unionist, when you say that "individual members who don't want to pay dues can quit their job and go work elsewhere, or not at all - their "choice". I'm talking about groups of workers within an enterprise or sector. I realize there may be grey areas, but I think, lacking a better criterion, the level of bargaining unit is a useful measure."

One thing I'd like to add to your discussion is the question of just how you determine the collective wishes of a bargaining unit. The most obvious ways are probably votes, petitions and card sign-up drives. One of the difficult parts about the situation between UNITE HERE and Workers United/SEIU is that many of the disaffiliation votes and petition drives don't stand up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. We've heard a lot of talk about '150,000 members have chosen to leave' but no one - not a single person - has been able to show any evidence there's actually a sincere will to disaffiliate on the part of a huge chunk of UNITE HERE members.

Remember a case mentioned in an earlier thread where the WU side claimed workers in a Philadelphia local voted to disaffiliate by a 4-to-1 majority. In fact, only 75 or 80 workers voted in total (in a poorly advertised, partisan-run meeting) out a unit of 2400 workers. In other words, about 2.5% of the membership voted to disaffiliate. Still, that didn't stop Raynor and WU from claiming that a 4-to-1 majority of the entire unit wanted to leave.

This might all sound pedantic and tiresome to some outsiders, but it's really important. It's why people like me seem fixated on the nature of the disaffiliation votes and petition drives that took place in Ontario (Willow, Vivienne, Rambo Megaphone, global_crisis - we're still waiting for those answers!). Is there really a massive outcry among 150,000 workers to leave UNITE HERE and form Workers United? Is it really the case, as Vivienne claims, that somewhere out there, there are 120,000 signatures on petitions or x's on ballots in support of disaffiliation? I just don't buy it... If they are basing the legitimacy of their "union" on this claim, the burden of proof is on them to show that kind of support. We haven't seen any proof yet.

Instead, I think there's a core group of increasingly paranoid and desperate leaders trying to cling to power, trying to bring as many bargaining chips with them to secure new jobs at the top of SEIU.

 

 

Rambo Megaphone

Vivienne don't do it!

Don't let them trick you into THINKING! DUH!

THINKING is just what they want you to do! DUH!

ONLY RACIST, YALE GRADUATE, HERE people think! DUH!

DO YOU THINK ALEX WANTS EVERYONE TO THINK?! DUH!

If you start thinking, you might realize what Workers United is doing is anti-union, unethical and illegal! DUH!

Whatever you do, DON'T ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT ONTARIO COUNCIL VOTES! DUH!

REPEAT the line that 120,000 Workers United "members" "wanted" to "disaffiliate"! DUH!

REPEAT the line that the "merger is over" and it will be true! DUH!

Just ACCUSE LOCAL 75 and UNITE HERE of doing EVERYTHING WORKERS UNITED DOES! DUH!

If Workers United RIGS AN ELECTION, accuse UNITE HERE of rigging an election. DUH!

If Workers United and SEIU RAID UNITE HERE HOTELS, accuse UNITE HERE of raiding. DUH!

If Workers United LOSES A LEGAL CASE (Philadelphia), accuse UNITE HERE of losing the case. DUH!

Those UNITE HERE people will never figure out the STRATEGY. DUH!

JUST FOLLOW ALEX! DUH!

ALEX KNOWS WHAT IS BEST! DUH!

ALEX and BRUCE were going to LOSE their positions, so you HAVE TO PROTECT THEM AGAINST DEMOCRACY! DUH!

"TRADE UNION PRICIPLES" don't matter! DUH!

Only BEATING UNITE HERE MATTERS! DUH!

stop raiding

 

An interesting article with an analysis of some of the internal criticisms by SEIU Locals on the mayhem being caused by Andy Stern. If you don't want to believe the UNITE HERE partisans on Babble then listen to the words of committed trade unionists within SEIU slamming their own leadership. How much more evidence is required? Their own union members are condemning them for raiding UNITE HERE.

 

http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/SEIU_s_Misplaced_Priorities_Upend_San_Francisco_Budget_6934.html

 

Excerpt:

 

"Rather than invest in ensuring that the [SEIU] 1021 contract was ratified, SEIU is allocating staff and money raiding the jurisdictions and bargaining units of UNITE HERE.

Don't take my word for it. Local 1021's Executive Board and staff union passed a resolution last week preventing the local from spending resources raiding or interfering with UNITE HERE's membership.

Local 1021's staff union stated that SEIU is "mis-using scarce resources to fund a campaign undermining other unions," and concluded that SEIU's "divide and conquer tactics and decisions to attack the UNITE HERE elected leaders and members are weakening the labor movement instead of strengthening it."

@ Unionist - I would be interested in your take on the crticism of the SEIU leadership by its members.

TW

Another view from inside the rapidly unravelling International Union of SEIU...

 

Viewpoint: SEIU Staff Fight for their Union

Malcolm Harris

President of the Union of Union Representatives (SEIU Staff Union)

Labour Notes

http://labornotes.org/node/2281

 

In early March the Service Employees (SEIU) announced plans to lay off 75 organizers and other field staff represented by the International’s staff union, the Union of Union Representatives (UUR). The “reorganization” is another step in the increasing centralization of SEIU.

All non-senior organizers, nearly a third of our unit, were targeted. The announcement came less than a month before our contract was set to expire on March 31.

SEIU has tried to justify the layoffs by citing the “Justice for All” program, passed at the 2008 convention, which shifted more responsibility for organizing on International campaigns to the locals. SEIU has said that members voted for “Justice for All” knowing it would result in layoffs, but we have yet to speak with an SEIU member or delegate who was aware of this.

Many suspect the layoffs actually arise from SEIU’s financial precariousness. The union did say budget problems led to the layoffs of dozens of managers and Office and Professionals union-represented headquarters staff. Its net assets suffered a drastic drop last year, while at least one of its staff pension plans fell into the “red” zone, indicating severe underfunding.

Meanwhile, the union has recently taken on millions of dollars in new financial obligations to subsidize Workers United, the new SEIU affiliate made up of former UNITE HERE members.

FRUITS OF CENTRALIZATION

After years of merging locals and installing loyal leaders, President Andy Stern and the International Executive Board are now asserting their authority to direct local union staff to work on International campaigns—anywhere, anytime, for as long as they deem necessary.

Local staff have been relocated to California to work on the trusteeship of United Healthcare Workers-West. Others have been dispatched to distant states for health care reform and Employee Free Choice Act campaigns. Who knows how SEIU will staff the new Workers United campaigns?

The reorganization also reveals SEIU’s cynical view of organizers and organizing. While it lays off experienced and dedicated International organizers, it is outsourcing our work to non-union contractors and hiring dozens of temporary staff for health care reform efforts.

Many of these employees receive less pay and less training, and (like local staff) have limited rights to visit home during the course of lengthy campaign assignments. SEIU has also hired or promoted so many “managers” that managers outnumber the UUR members they supervise. Taken as a whole, these actions have the feel of a traditional boss campaign to crush the union.

Another disturbing aspect is that a disproportionate number on the layoff list are people of color and older staff, which led UUR to file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Some UUR members threatened with layoff rose through the rank and file to become paid organizers, like Helen Sanders, a 58-year-old former security guard who left a stable SEIU-represented job eight years ago to organize full time.

Those laid off are not guaranteed job placements in the International or the locals, and SEIU knows there are not enough local jobs available that match the skills and geography of laid-off staff. As a result, Helen and other staffers face unemployment during an economic crisis already Depression-like for workers of color.

Faced with disappointment over SEIU’s hypocritical and heartless layoffs and its belligerent bargaining position, we made the difficult decision to make this a public issue. UUR members have leafleted SEIU headquarters and educated SEIU members about what SEIU is doing in their name.

We have filed unfair labor practice charges against SEIU over its refusal to bargain over the layoffs, the erosion of our bargaining unit, and the threatened termination of staff who try to organize SEIU local staffers into UUR.

We are proud of our work to build SEIU and through these efforts hope to rescind the layoffs, win a decent contract, and push SEIU to uphold the values it claims to represent—dignity, respect, and fair treatment of workers. Then we can get back to our real work, building the labor movement.

Rambo Megaphone

Hey, Vivienne, global_crisis, Willow and Jumping Janice,

I can't wait for the next WORKERS UNITED RALLY! 

Everyone can do these NEW CHANTS (some are set to traditional union melodies so it will sound like a legitimate union from a distance):

******

Everywhere we go.

No one wants to know.

Who is WooUoo?

But we tell them.

We're the illegal union.

The criminally liable union...

******

Hey hey what do you say?

WU members have no say!

******

The Workers United,

Will never be a union!

******

We're WU members

See our flag?

What do we do?

Dump Raynor and Dagg!

*******

WU says it represents,

But in negotiations,

WU barely gets 5 cents.

********

Watch the Constitution

Burn, baby, burn.

All of it funded

By Andy Stern.

Unionist

stop raiding wrote:

@ Unionist - I would be interested in your take on the crticism of the SEIU leadership by its members.

Can't do it - I don't know enough. I have come to believe, however, that those who raid and those who defend against raids both tend to be overlooking more important issues - such as exploring the genesis of worker dissatisfaction and uniting to resolve it. When I hear someone attacked because they are raiding, and with that as the primary reason, I tend to turn off. Likewise, when someone launches a raid, and having done so refuses to sit down with the recognized leadership of the target of the raid and look for amicable solutions to problems raised by workers, I also turn off. I have been in all these situations and more. I am not impressed by squabbles over property, finances, constitutional legalities, etc. Workers don't care about those things. I distrust partisan loyalty to one union over another.

Ok, enough true confessions. Sorry, it's hard for me to take sides in a dust-up like this. I do think, however, that any thread about Canadian workers that talks about Washington or Pennsylvania or California ought to maybe join the 21st century and ask our southern masters to Let My People Go! That's not the be-all, of course, but it's kind of essential, don't you think?

Sudbury Solidarity

Wow Rambo Megaphone you sure know how to gain support for the Workers United people.

Little childish don't you think? 

Good luck Workers United.  I'm understanding why you said the merger was broken the more that people who've stayed with UNITE HERE post stuff like this junk.

3to1majority

Good question, Sudbury Solidarity.

Workers United Supporters:

Why exactly do you say the merger was broken?

Rambo Megaphone

WHAT??!!

I SUPPORT WORKERS UNITED! DUH!

I STAND WITH Willow, Jumping Janice, Vivienne and global_crisis! DUH!

I think what they think! DUH!

Ontario workers need SERVICE and REPRESENTATION, not SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES! DUH!

Ontario workers NEED ANDY STERN'S $$$! DUH!

Down with UNITE HERE! DUH!

Rambo Megaphone

Uh-oh, some of the Raynor-Stern-Workers United internal documents were leaked:

http://perezstern.blogspot.com

TW

Regarding the internal memo detailing Workers United's financial struggles, see the full mess here.

My favourite is the mention of the need to "right size" WU staffing levels once the affiliation with SEIU is complete. WU uses corporate lingo when referring to massive lay-offs of its own staff.

Also, more light is shed on WU's habit of inflating their representation numbers (103,000 is a far cry from 150,000!).

Another great quotation shows WU and the former UNITE side's usual financial acumen: "Unfortunately, the financing provisions of the agreement were not negotiated with any real assessment of a budget for Workers United being conducted. No estimates of staffing needs or fixed costs were prepared. It is now clear to me that the financial support necessary to support an orderly integration with SEIU cannot be met by the current arrangement."

global_crisis

It's funny how this thread has gone.  Much like what I've seen happen in Local 75 for the last few years.  Someone raises a concern about something and they are shouted down, belittled, and ignored while the staff (and I assure anyone reading this that everyone one writing for the HERE side of things are staff of Local 75) tout their own horns and deliver the 'correct' message.  What a bunch of pompus assholes.

Since this conversation has become a circle jerk of HERE staffers talking to themselves (Rambo Megaphone, I think you may have posted one of your tirades under the wrong name) I think I will spend my time on more productive things and post no furthur.

TW

First, another update: according to this press release, it appears that supended General President Raynor will resign from office today.

Second, @ global_crisis

I'm sorry to hear you're leaving this discussion. A few things before you go...

Several folks have made the accusation (?) that some of the commenters on this board might be Local 75 staff. If it's true, I'm not really sure why that's a terrible thing - the staff should be passionate and involved, and should participate in discussions like these.

Also, you can try to mis-direct people's attention all you want, but no one - still not a single one of you (I'm looking at you again, Willow, Sudbury Solidarity, Jumping Janice, Vivienne etc etc etc) has been able or willing to anser ANY of our questions about how Workers United was formed. The fact is, no one needs to belittle you or shout you down - you completely and constantly undermine your own position with your lack of reasonable responses to these questions.



Spin, spin, spin all you want - make jokes about Starbucks drinkers, Kool-aid drinkers (gosh, we sure do drink a lot, huh?), make petty, defamatory accusations (UNITE HERE are racists, assholes, thieves), make totally unsubstantiated claims (150,000 members? 120,000 votes or petition signatures?)  - but please don't play the victim in this fight. You can take your toys and go home if you want (like Raynor, see above), but please do not even try to play for sympathy.



If you decide to come back to this discussion, I would ask you to first answer the same questions we've been asking all along:

How many UNITE HERE Ontario Council members chose (through votes or petition signatures) to leave UNITE HERE?

How many UNITE HERE Ontario Council members chose (through votes or petition signatures) to form Workers United, and then immediately affiliate with SEIU?

What were these votes like? Where were they held?

Where are the signed petitions?

Do you have any corroborating evidence whatsoever?

How many members does Workers United claim to represent in Ontario? in North America?

What's the difference between a worker-led democratic change in unions, and a leadership-driven, attempted coup?


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