Why is UNITE HERE shipping its war to Canada?

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TW

I can't wait to see the "democratic" process by which Raynor becomes head of Workers United....

 

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20090529/FREE/905299990

 

global_crisis

TW:

Okay, one more post since you didn't seem to read the last one.  I can't answer your questions about Workers United.  I'm not a member of Workers United.  My concern here has been, and will continue to be: what happens in Local 75!

Wow... still not listening.  I guess I shouldn't have expected more.

TW

@ global_crisis

Sorry, I guess I must have misunderstood when you claimed in your first post, "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."

I guess it just seemed like you were taking a position on the UNITE HERE internal fight, and advocating in favour of Workers United. I must have mis-read your quotation above. You're not a member of Workers United and have nothing to say about that "union" (Though I note you carefully avoid claiming not to be a WU staffer - gee, I wonder why?)

In fact, you are the conscience of UNITE HERE Local 75, looking down on us from on high, making sure we're on the right path. Well in that case, global_crisis, thanks for your interest and commitment! We definitely appreciate the constructive criticism. I think discussions like these are very healthy for unions and labour activists in general, and I'm glad you have been participating!

stop raiding

It's about time Raynor stepped down. The level of dishonesty, hypocrisy and shameless self-interest is arguably unparalleled in the labour movement. His strategies, tactics and leadership skills (and those of many of his sycophants) would be better suited in the corporate sector than in the trade union movement. Workers deserve better than these bureaucrats.

stop raiding

"Union shocker: UNITE-HERE boss faces ax in labor war"

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/money/2009/05/29/2009-05-29_union_shocker_boss_faces_ax_in_labor_war.html

 

The only shock was that anyone would have the gall to stick around as President after you masterminded the attempted sabotage of the organization you are purportedly leading.

stop raiding

Excerpt from the above article:

 

"Veteran labor watchdogs like Herman Benson of the Association for Union Democracy have been stunned by the ferocity of the fight between Stern, Wilhelm and Raynor.

"SEIU is bankrolling a secession inside another union," Benson said. "That's just not done. As for Raynor, he set up his own dual union, which is considered one of the biggest crimes by organized labor. No wonder they want to throw him out."

 

pbandj

Rambo Megaphone wrote:

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!!!!!!!

 

Do you like the bandanas, Rambo? They were made in 2003 when John was retiring as Canadian President of UNITE, and were used as a tool ( like campaign buttons and tshirts are used by our government elected officials to get their name out to the public) to show people that Alex was running for the position. Awww, did I burst an urban myth?

pbandj

Rambo Megaphone wrote:

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!!  

 

Correction, my friend. Even though there was 25 members on the executive board (12 from local 75, 13 from the remainder) the President of Ontario Council can only vote vote on issues that are tied. Henceforth, because of job obligations and employers not giving executive members the time off to rightfully participate in their elected capacity as the Ontario's Council's representatives, most meetings ended up having equal numbers for both "sides", making the ablility to perform union business almost impossible.Victimization? Possibly, but when every member of the executive board from Local 75 stands up and makes almost carbon copy statements on an issue, you tend to wonder.

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!!!!!!!

pbandj

Did I neglect to mention that the Ontario Council's annual meeting was held in limbo for almost a year because certain leaders with Local 75 did not like the original agreement set up in 2004, stating that the next Onatario Council's general election would be an open slate, allowing all rank and file members to run for office, irregardless of what local they were affiliated with? Which could have ended up with less of one party being represented at the executive level than the other. No skin off my nose, but someone was extremely worried about the possible outcome, and wanted the rules changed to suit their agenda. Democratic? Um, not in my eyes? Pot meet kettle.

pbandj

And... last time I checked.... UNITE HERE was the merger of the textiles union and the hotel union. When did it turn exclusively into hotels? Does the manufacturing sector not have the right to have their concerns addressed as well, or were they to be quashed because they were the minority, and henceforth didn't count as much?

 

pbandj is waiting for answers....

3to1majority

pbanj:

Have you read the letters from UNITE HERE to the leadership of Local Unions from the former Ontario Council?

All Local Unions of all industries - manufacturing, food service, gaming, hotels - all legally remain affiliates of UNITE HERE (see comment #33 above).

As part of a strong UNITE HERE that is free of Alex Dagg and Bruce Raynor, couldn't the manufacturing Local Unions fight for more than the wage freezes and concessions that Dagg and Raynor bargained for years?

Which annual Ontario Council meeting was held in limbo by Local 75 for a year?  Didn't one take place in May 2006, 2007 and 2008?

global_crisis

TW:

Oh zing!  Oh burn!  You've got me!  Found out my secret identity.  I disgaree with you so I must be on the payroll of the Workers United.  No "member" of Local 75 could ever posibly disgaree with the staff.  I put member in quotes because while I may be paying dues into that organization, I certainly don't feel like I have much say over how it runs.

Tell me something TW, if you welcome debate and participation... what exactly is the role of the Solidarity Committee?  They are selected by staff when they "earn" a place there.  And yet your executive board meetings are held simultaniously to Solidarity Committee meetings and everyone gets to vote on everything.  That means that people who were selected by staff have the same vote as the people selected by the membership.  Where is the democracy in that exactly?

Answer: there isn't any.  

I hope one day my co-workers and I will be able to join a good strong union.  Like the Steelworkers.  My hope for Local 75 is nill.

pbandj

3to1majority wrote:

pbanj:

Have you read the letters from UNITE HERE to the leadership of Local Unions from the former Ontario Council?

Yes I did... started my bbq with it. Food left a bad taste in my mouth.

All Local Unions of all industries - manufacturing, food service, gaming, hotels - all legally remain affiliates of UNITE HERE (see comment #33 above).

My question hasn't been answered. Sounds like old retoric I've been hearing for the past year or so. If interested.... come for a visit.

 

As part of a strong UNITE HERE that is free of Alex Dagg and Bruce Raynor, couldn't the manufacturing Local Unions fight for more than the wage freezes and concessions that Dagg and Raynor bargained for years?

Have you had experience in negotiating contracts for manufacturing industies? Last set of negotiations I attended, i don't seem to recall seeing Alex or Bruce at the bargaining table. The local comittee and our business rep was. seems someone assumes too much about the bargaining process that occurs in the manufacuring sector that used to be part of the union. No consessions, no freezes. Actually, we did pretty good.

Which annual Ontario Council meeting was held in limbo by Local 75 for a year?  Didn't one take place in May 2006, 2007 and 2008?

Dear lord.... memories are short. 2008. And I said almost a year. Question answered.

stop raiding

Pbandj, you seem to be very good at answering questions. Could you please answer the questions listed below that babblers having been asking almost daily for the last couple of months. Once answered it would allow folks to finally move on from those irksome questions in relation to members' ability to be fully informed, make educated decisions and have access to a fair democratic process where all members voices are heard. It seems that no one wants to answer these questions. However, you are like a breath of fresh air laden with a lot of dates, numbers and inside knowledge - the perfect person to finally answer these very significant questions that are at the heart of grassroots, democratic trade unionism.

"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?"

pbandj

Ah, grasshopper... we seem to be stuck on numbers. Why? You must have read the same articles that I have read. Must you assume that they are incorrect, or is that Doubting Thomas looking over your shoulder?

 

I can assure you, that if the members chose not to change, then things would be as they were. Do we ask for evidence from your meetings and voting?

 

However, I do have some questions to ask of you....

 

What are the plans for representing the non-hotel sector members in the manner that they are entitled to? Who will be their business reps? What value will be given in exchange for those pesky union dures that are demanded to be put in escrow? What about education, representation and grievences? Why, now that the die has been thrown and the results have been made public does UNITE HERE cry foul? Did the leaders believe that we would just suck it up? Why, all of a sudden, is there a pressing interest in the world outside of Toronto? We merged in 2004.... was interest in manufacutring shown since then by the leaders from the hotel sector? Nay, I say. We may have merged, but the lines were firmly embedded in the sand, and if one dared to cross that line to see how the system worked for the hotel workers, there was Hades to pay. To me, it felt like that there was a rivalry that could not be mended."Stay on your side of the fence. Mind your own business. No, we do not want or need your help." Yes, I heard that message loud and clear. Why was it that we tried to include our hotel brothers and sisters from 75 in the rallies, the campaigns, the picket lines, only to be ignored, or resented for trying to include them (American Eagle ring a bell?) but, I found out about 75's rallies, campaigns and picket lines through the media after the events were held? How about tranperency on where and what dues were being spent on? I will not get into "pink sheeting".

 

I have only scratched the surface on answering a question that was asked earlier in this thread.

 

My members chose to leave. Numbers aren't going to satisfy you.

stop raiding

pbandj,

I can't answer your questions as I am neither a UNITE HERE staffer, member and/or elected leader (or an employer - i think that covers the gamut). I am a member of another Union unrelated to WU, SEIU, or UNITE HERE.  I have been around the labour movement for a few years and have developed a strong predilection toward the old HERE for it's innovative grassroots programs and a degree of contempt for UNITE'S top-down, business unionism. There lies the lens I look through.

My interest, oh wise one, is in the process that the faction disaffiliated and whether it was truly democratic. That interest has peaked due to the complete unwillingness of any WU'er to indicate the process and numbers. Generally Unions are quick to disclose the fairness in the process utilized and the outcomes of the process used. Actually, clearly defining the process utilized, the questions posed and the specific results will indeed satisfy me. Try me, I promise you will have one satisfied grasshopper if you answer the questions posed above and preferably not with more questions. 

stop raiding

global_crisis - Was that you I saw at Ryerson this weekend?

pbandj

stop raiding wrote:

pbandj,

I can't answer your questions as I am neither a UNITE HERE staffer, member and/or elected leader (or an employer - i think that covers the gamut). I am a member of another Union unrelated to WU, SEIU, or UNITE HERE.  I have been around the labour movement for a few years and have developed a strong predilection toward the old HERE for it's innovative grassroots programs and a degree of contempt for UNITE'S top-down, business unionism. There lies the lens I look through.

My interest, oh wise one, is in the process that the faction disaffiliated and whether it was truly democratic. That interest has peaked due to the complete unwillingness of any WU'er to indicate the process and numbers. Generally Unions are quick to disclose the fairness in the process utilized and the outcomes of the process used. Actually, clearly defining the process utilized, the questions posed and the specific results will indeed satisfy me. Try me, I promise you will have one satisfied grasshopper if you answer the questions posed above and preferably not with more questions. 

 

My apologies. This thread has become a snipe war, of which I am as guilty as the rest of participating in. I assumed, and turned out to be the ass. I will see if I can come up with what you seek, but I cannot make promises. However, I turn my inquiries to my dear friends who do belong to UNITE HERE. 3to1 and Rambo.... are you reading?

 

Even wise ones sometimes have feet of clay. Or a bad case of athelete's foot. I'm not sure which.

stop raiding

pbandj

Although these issues are obviously very serious to the members, the staff and the larger labour movement - I do appreciate your sense of humour and your willingness to address questions. I am quite partisan in this matter so your assumptions are understandable thus making you "assless".

global_crisis

stop raiding:

No, I was not at Ryerson this weekend.  Why?  What was going on at Ryerson?  I suspect that this is a joke but I'm missing something.

stop raiding

global crisis,

Check out advertising banner at right-top of page on rabble/babble - it has been there since you joined. I thought your revolutionary politics might have drawn you there

titled:

global crisis, global resistance - festival of resistance  www.marxism2009.ca ryerson may 29-31

 

global_crisis

stop raiding:

Sorry, been on the net for years... learned to ignore advertising.  I don't think the Marxists have a trade mark on the phrase 'global crisis'. That's the shame of this whole mess is that while the staffers are fighting away (both on the HERE side, and the UNITE side) the industries, including hotels, are shrinking like crazy due to the economic crisis and the membership is getting fucked.

As for your comments to pbandj, you say that you "have developed a strong predilection toward the old HERE for it's innovative grassroots programs and a degree of contempt for UNITE'S top-down, business unionism". My point in participating in this debate is that members of Local 75 hear a lot of theory (if we hear anything at all) that sounds great but the reality on the ground is members end up being ignored, some contracts go on for ages un-negotiated, and a there is a tight grip held on the political process by those currently in charge in the name of having the correct analysis. I understand your distaste for business unionism and I certainly share it but sometimes the tangible acts of filing a grievance or getting a contract signed is important.

In other words, Local 75 has a great rep but under a closer look... it's not so fun to be a member of the organization.

stop raiding

pbandj,

I can;t answer your specific questions, as previously stated, but I may be able to respond to some of your statements.

pbandj wrote:

We merged in 2004.... was interest in manufacutring shown since then by the leaders from the hotel sector? Nay, I say. We may have merged, but the lines were firmly embedded in the sand, and if one dared to cross that line to see how the system worked for the hotel workers, there was Hades to pay. To me, it felt like that there was a rivalry that could not be mended."Stay on your side of the fence. Mind your own business. No, we do not want or need your help." Yes, I heard that message loud and clear. Why was it that we tried to include our hotel brothers and sisters from 75 in the rallies, the campaigns, the picket lines, only to be ignored, or resented for trying to include them (American Eagle ring a bell?) but, I found out about 75's rallies, campaigns and picket lines through the media after the events were held? How about tranperency on where and what dues were being spent on? I will not get into "pink sheeting".

You obviously have your issues with UNITE HERE and you lay a number of them out:

- disinterested in manufacturing sector
- sectoral divisions
- lack of integration and communication
- lack of transparency

I may have the wrong read on you but you seem to take a fairly levelled -headed approach to this breakaway and the new affiliation. So I ask you - do you really think SEIU will give a flying fig about manufacturing? Do you really think WU will be involved in healthcare or any of the key growth sectors of SEIU (perhaps food/multi service or raiding UNITE HERE properties)? Do you really think any Local leader is going to trust WU'ers after what they have seen/heard/read about  the secession campaign and all the egregious tactics used? Do you really think think Andy Stern is big on transparency, especially with a costly breakaway group that only represents about 1/25th of his Union?

I believe SEIU will let WU's manufacturing sector go down the shitter as they will see it as a shrinking sector with no returns. WU will be left on the margins to flounder in retail, laundry or custodial sectors with limited resources allocated and sizeable staff cuts due to the affiliation and the poor finances of WU and SEIU. A significant buffer will be ccreated between WU and SEIU so that the WU ego's are kept in check, under wraps and any ideas of jumping ship again will be tightly controlled by isolating and dispersing the power-driven corporate types. The top dogs will be given token posts and some financial guarantees. In the end you will be gobbled up by the big fish. And on the transparency front, the WU bosses will be told what they need to know.

What does all this mean in my humble opinion? WU members have been LED out of the pan and into the fire. Sadly, if my speculation is right then the members will truly suffer from this top-down, backroom deal. On the WU sde it will be a mish-mash of bargaining units without any sectoral density and absent of any real power other than what they are able to muster on a workplace by workplace basis - similar to the old UNITE. And the remaining staff willl be wondering not if, but when they'll be unceremoniously dumped. I'm not quite sure what pink sheeting is but if I were a WU staffer I suspect I would prefer a pink sheet to a pink slip.

As for this grasshopper, the tea leaves seem pretty clear and they are telling me that many woes lie ahead for you and WU.

pbandj

Thank you for the complement, stop raiding. I try and am trying to keep a level head through all of this.... the multiple crises we all find ourselves does not make it easier for anyone. The best we can do is duck when the fecal matter makes contact with the ossulating rotator. Woe and contraversy will always haunt the labour movement... it's learning from it that sometimes is a bitter medicine that must be swallowed. However, that being said, I honestly believe moving forward is the only viable option for everyone involved, and let the cards fall where they will. My priorities lay in the best interst of my local that resides in a small square of this big blue marble. I just wish my crystal ball wasn't so foggy.... and I seem to see the words "Gone fishing" when the clouds periodically break away.

stop raiding

pbandj,

 perhaps we'll run into each other fishing off a shore someday and we can discuss this at length. i'll bring the pbandj sandwiches.

stop raiding

 Bruce Raynor Elected President of Workers United, SEIU

 pbandj,

 Shouldn't Romney have carried on as Prez until a convention could be held and the new WU Prrsident is coronated through some process that at the least gives an appearance of a member-wide election? It is quite bizarre for a leader to resign from Union A on Friday and be appointed President of Union B on Monday. At what point do the members get to have a say? Also on the topic of members, the WU internal memo to Raynor dated May 11 and summarized below has me a tad confused:

 "Workers United/SEIU Chief of Staff Keith Mestrich writes in a memo to Bruce Raynor that much more money is needed from SEIU to make Workers United (WU) a viable operation. Among other things, the memo reveals that WU has just 103,000 dues-paying members and falling, not the 150,000 members Raynor falsely claims. Consequently, WU has revised its monthly net income projections from a $1,365,000 surplus to a -$314,000 deficit. This just 6 weeks after its merger with SEIU."

While today's press release indicates:

"Workers United, SEIU is a union of 150,000 people in the US and Canada who work in the laundry, food service, hospitality, gaming, apparel, textile, manufacturing and distribution industries."

 I don't want to seem like a stickler over numbers but in anybody's books that's a rather large discrepancy. It seems like WU has their inhouse count and then their public spin. The difference betwween 150,000 and 103,000 (and possibly falling) is quite dramatic and the discrepancy seems quite worrying (and probably for SEIU as well).  These Presidential coronations and these massive discrepancies in membership numbers continue to cause people like me to wonder how above board this whole breakaway has been and why I and othes persist in trying to determine the process and the numbers as they relate to members in Canada. It all seems...well...rather fishy. 

Vivienne

TW, 3to1 Majority, Stop raiding could you please pass the below message on..............

 

To Paul Clifford and John Wilhelm,

You and your union were in Niagara. After the Merge, we in Niagara formed our own Local because we were disgruntled with Local 75 and the lack of representation, education or anything else. We then decided to demerge during which time our LOCAL 2347 was contacted by two separate hotels wanting our LOCAL to represent them. These worker's DO NOT know who you or your Union are and today even although you have so far stop OUR LOCAL from negoitating at this time, they still DO NOT know who you are other then a SUPPOSED HOSPITATLITY UNION that is just as bad if not worse then any EMPLOYER could be, because of your antics. Your Union just had another DECERTIFICATION by a HOTEL.....While you try to take us, WHOM YOU ARE WELL AWARE DO NOT WANT ANY PART OF YOUR UNION, you are losing members you claim want to be a part of your UNION. Don't you see it's time you LET OUR PEOPLE GO and get on with representing your OWN MEMBERS before you have none. We in Niagara will not go back to Unite Here. Not only is it our fundamental right to form a UNION OF OUR CHOICE, we can also DECERTIFY OR DISPLACE A UNION WE DON'T WANT. Is that what you truly want????????????????

 

 

TW

Vivienne, I'm a little confused...

I did a little digging, and could only find two hotels in the Niagara Region where organizing drives have taken place recently. In both cases, the applicant union was UNITE HERE (the Holiday Inn St. Catharines and the Courtyard by Marriott).

Once again, what you're saying on this forum just doesn't seem to relfect the actual evidence at hand.

What's going on?

winny pillow

TW,

You dig too deep with all this reading of articles, posting of links, citing of facts and searching for evidence.

Vivienne's arguments are airtight. What could be more persuasive than writing in block caps, bold AND italics - and following up with a dozen question marks?????????????

If that doesn't convince you, nothing will.

Unionist

Just dropped in to say a word in favour of our side. The other side, by the way, are a bunch of corrupt crooks and traitors, with no care for the workers. Our side? Well, it's just the opposite. The key in understanding the goals of our side is the absolute essential necessity never to give an inch to the other side. Because if we did that, for the sake of some phoney unity, the workers might say: "So which side is right and which side is wrong? I'm confused. Maybe both sides are no good?" Then where would we be?

Thanks for listening.

 

triciamarie

I must say being fairly earnest by nature, I find all this sarcasm awfully hard to follow.

stop raiding

 

Interesting letter from Wilhelm indicating a "Path to Peace" and clearly stating why binding arb is not an option.

 

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/06/15/18601781.php

 

 

Letter to Andy Stern, president of SEIU

June 15, 2009

To: Andy Stern

From: John W. Wilhelm, President

THERE IS A PATH TO PEACE

I am responding to your latest in a long line of calls to solve the UNITE HERE - SEIU dispute through binding arbitration.

First, let's recap.

Notwithstanding your repeated attempts to characterize this as an "internal" UNITE HERE struggle, beginning last fall if not earlier, you and other top SEIU officers conspired to split UNITE HERE, promote secession of thousands of members, remove assets, and organize in UNITE HERE's core hotel, gaming, and food service jurisdictions. You enlisted your long time confidant Steve Rosenthal, who was paid by Bruce Raynor $500,000 in UNITE HERE dues money to conduct a months long massive communications program that directed hundreds of thousands of mailers and phone calls into our members' homes all across North America. Top SEIU officers, including Anna Burger, Tom Woodruff, Mike Fishman, and you, advocated secession at UNITE HERE membership meetings. You used a private investigator to pry into my family's personal affairs as well as the personal affairs of other key leaders of UNITE HERE.

You used "shock and awe" in hopes we would submit, so you could steal UNITE HERE's members, jurisdiction, and assets.

We publicized these well-worn SEIU tactics in a research report, titled "Growing Pains," which documented no fewer than seven separate raids by SEIU on other unions since 2001(http://oneunitehere.org/documents.asp). So we understand the SEIU raid game plan.

Now that we have control of our own International Union offices in New York City, we have ample documentation of all these matters, and also of the fact that Bruce Raynor emptied the Union's treasury in his drive to split the Union, in violation of our Constitution and Federal law.

It is extraordinary that you have the audacity to say that we are hurting workers, when it is you who sponsored and carried out this raid. Indeed, UFCW President Joe Hansen, who worked so hard to mediate this dispute, stated in a recent letter that SEIU's involvement has made a solution more difficult.

Now, you have launched a public relations offensive to persuade us to arbitrate UNITE HERE's membership, jurisdiction and treasury. An analogy comes to mind.

Suppose a burglar broke into your house, stole your property, and demanded ransom. Then the burglar contacts you to demand that a third party be given the right to divide up the stolen property. Would anyone accept such an offer?

You and Raynor plotted to break up UNITE HERE, remove assets from the Union's control, and organize in UNITE HERE's traditional industry jurisdictions. Having made this attempted burglary you now want to have a third party divide up the spoils. Only UNITE HERE would be at risk in such an arbitration - SEIU would have no risk.

No victim of a theft would ever agree to such a proposition.

No International Union would agree to put its future members, its jurisdiction, and assets in the hands of an arbitrator.

Moreover, because of President Hansen's written mediator's recommendations (which have been widely circulated), we already know the views of a respected, impartial leader who spent an enormous amount of time understanding this dispute. Who could possibly be better qualified to identify the path to peace?

President Hansen's recommendations provided a clear path to settlement. SEIU rejected the heart of those recommendations: that the hotel and gaming membership and organizing jurisdiction belong in UNITE HERE, and that UNITE HERE must have sufficient assets "for the future viability and health of the union."

President Hansen's ringing endorsement of UNITE HERE's core industry jurisdiction echoes a founding principle of Change to Win. In his words:

"I believe workers have the best opportunity to improve their lives when they join together throughout an industry as one union. Carving up core industry jurisdiction weakens the ability of a union to combine its resources in organizing and bargaining with national employers - and it diminishes the voice workers have on the job."

How ironic that SEIU rejected this path to a settlement - rejecting in the process what SEIU and Change to Win claim to stand for.

cc: Bruce Raynor

Edgar Romney

3to1majority

A few recent developments:

1.

Did anyone see Workers United members, elected officers or staff at the EI rally in Toronto on Saturday?  Nearly every legitimate union in the labour movement was represented by a significant contingent.  Only the likes of FIST, CLAC and Workers United had no presence.  At the May 7 Stewards Assembly where the EI rally was planned, Workers United did not participate but at least could muster up a few paid staffers to hand out anti-UNITE HERE attack flyers.

Saturday's EI march ended at the Delta Chelsea hotel where all of the UNITE HERE Local 75 members working walked off the job to greet the marchers as they came up Bay St.

2.

Has anyone read this letter from UNITE HERE General President John Wilhelm to the leadership of Change to Win (the U.S. labour federation that both U.S. SEIU and UNITE HERE belong to)?  Apparently U.S. SEIU had the Change to Win staff researching the family lives of UNITE HERE officers in attempts to dig up dirt on them - presumably to force UNITE HERE's hand in U.S. SEIU's raid efforts - which they then tried to sneak out of the UNITE HERE offices. 

3to1majority

In the latest desperate attempt to get UNITE HERE to give in to its will, U.S. SEIU sent John Wilhelm a new proposal for binding arbitration.

In offering to cease the following activities against UNITE HERE, U.S. SEIU's proposl is a tacit admission that U.S. SEIU is engaged in:

"...effort[s] to pressure or convince employers to refuse, in whole or in part, to recognize the union of their employees or refuse to comply with their collective bargaining agreements, including but not limited to refusing to process grievances or arbitrations, bargain contracts, or remit dues."

"...action aimed at persuading members of the other party to change their union affiliation or to influence the actions or positions of their union..."

"...interference with organizing efforts by the other party..."

When will U.S. SEIU end the charade that there is an "internal" UNITE HERE dispute and finally openly admit that it fostered secession and engineered (and probably financed) an elaborate continent-wide campaign to break apart UNITE HERE in order to steal its members and organizing industry jurisdictions?

TW

Another article from Juan Gonzalez in the Daily News...

 

Battle over $12M splits labor movement UNITE HERE

Juan Gonzalez
New York Daily News
June 17 2009

In the weeks before a bitter power struggle at one of the country's biggest unions, UNITE HERE, erupted into an open split, the union's general president ordered more than $12 million be transferred to local affiliates loyal to him and to outside groups, documents obtained by the Daily News show.

Bruce Raynor disbursed the money without the knowledge or required approval of the union's co-president, John Wilhelm, UNITE HERE leaders said this week. Those funds, they claim, were then used to finance a breakaway group from the union.

"I was a co-signer with Raynor on all checks and was supposed to approve all expenditures that weren't customary and recurring, yet I knew nothing about any of this spending," Wilhelm said.

On March 7, dozens of locals that were loyal to Raynor seceded from UNITE HERE. A few weeks later, the splinter group, representing about 100,000 members, founded a new organization, Workers United. That group promptly affiliated to the powerful Service Employees International Union.

But Raynor stayed on as president of UNITE HERE while he pursued a court battle with Wilhelm over control of the Amalgamated Bank, the only union-owned bank in America.

On the night of May 29, Raynor resigned from UNITE HERE, hours before the start of a union hearing that was seeking to expel him. He then joined Workers United and was immediately named its new president.

"It's an absolute violation of federal labor law to use members' own money to foster a secession," Wilhelm said yesterday.

Raynor declined to respond to questions about his handling of UNITE HERE finances.

The claims of Wilhelm's group are "riddled with factual errors," Michelle Ringuette, a spokeswoman for SEIU, said.

"Since this matter is currently subject to litigation, there will be no point-by-point response to the allegations," Ringuette said.

The internal documents obtained by The News show that in the weeks leading up to the split Raynor ordered several sizable wire transfers without any approval from Wilhelm.

On Jan. 31, for example, he directed that $457,981 be paid from UNITE HERE to The Organizing Group, a political consulting firm with close ties to SEIU.

The head of The Organizing Group, Steve Rosenthal, then organized mailings and robocalls to union members that promoted the secession campaign of Workers United. He also organized a Web site for the group. Rosenthal did not respond to calls for comment.

Between Jan. 26 and Jan. 31, Raynor ordered another dozen transfers totaling $11.2 million for various UNITE HERE locals around the country.

"Bruce told the presidents he would wire them the money from the union's assistance funds and they were to immediately transfer it to a new outside group he'd set up, called Fund for the Future," said one UNITE HERE source who claims direct knowledge of the discussions.

On March 6, the day before those locals officially voted to secede, Raynor ordered more a dozen wire transfers sent to them, totaling another $500,000, for "reimbursement of expenditures."

Raynor and the leaders of SEIU have claimed for months that the dispute inside UNITE HERE is simply a case of a labor marriage that didn't work out.

In 2005, UNITE, the country's biggest apparel workers union, merged with HERE, the nation's main hotel workers union, to form UNITE HERE. But the cultures of the two groups never meshed, Raynor has said, so the only way to resolve the dispute was with a divorce and equitable division of the union's assets. Since UNITE brought the bank and other valuable property into the marriage, Raynor has said, those assets should stay with Workers United.

Wilhelm, on the other hand, clearly enjoys the majority support of UNITE HERE's members. He has accused Raynor and his backer, SEIU President Andy Stern, of orchestrating the split so they can take over unionization of the fast-growing hotel and gaming industries.

It has become a bitter and divisive confrontation in the entire labor movement. No one knows how it will end.

[email protected]ynews.com

 

 

 

pbandj

June 11,
2009
Dear
Bruce and John,
Once
again, I am respectfully appealing to each of you to seek a fast and fair
settlement to the conflict between your two organizations.
As you
well know, the attacks and counterattacks in court, in the media, and within
the labor movement have become increasingly bitter and destructive. And they
are doing increasing damage to workers, not only to those you represent, but to
all of us.
UAW
members are now facing perhaps the most critical challenge in the history of
our union. As we work to rebuild a great industry and renew U.S.
manufacturing, we need a united labor movement to stand with us and show the
positive results of collective action.
The last
thing we need is an endless internal battle that consumes resources which
should be devoted to building real power for working families. The longer this
fight goes on, the more it will be used against all of us by the Chamber of
Commerce, NAM, the National Right to Work Committee, Richard Berman, and others
who are determined to destroy everything we have fought for, together, in all
our years as trade unionists.
We can't
let that happen. The way to stop it from happening is for your two
organizations to reach a settlement as soon possible. Joe Hansen's
recommendations provide one possible avenue, binding arbitration is another.
Both of
you have devoted your entire lives to creating a strong voice for working
people. Each of you has accomplished a great deal - and once you put the
current conflict to rest, I am certain that each of you will accomplish a great
deal more.
In
solidarity,
Ron Gettelfinger
President
International Union, UAW

pbandj

Labor and Progressive Movement:
Labor
unions have been a real force for good in the life of my family, and in
so many other families like mine. I am who I am, and who I have been
able to become, in large part because of the strength and resources my
parents and aunts were able to gather from their unions.
That
is why I have used my celebrity to support unions and organizing
drives, pro-union political candidates and Employee Free Choice. I
will always be a union activist, and I am proud of that.
What
I am not proud of is what the fight between UNITE HERE and Workers
United/SEIU is doing to this movement I care so much about. I stood
side by side with UNITE HERE throughout the merger, but it was obvious
even from the outside that that organization was not reaching its
potential. I supported Workers United members when they decided to go
their own way. But now, even after the formation of that new union the
fighting has not stopped.
I was just in Niagara Falls, Canada with workers who finally won their union [http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102606938943&s=9381&e=001n2qQguZofcMyZyxwUmCdw...,
but now can't get a contract because their employer has gotten
wrapped up in this intra-union battle. That is unacceptable and I
raise my voice and add to the others that are calling for a quick and
fair end to the UNITE HERE merger which ends all this infighting. The
stakes for folks like these hotel workers in Canada are too high to let
this drag on.
I
call on President Wilhelm to accept President Raynor and President
Stern's offer to enter into binding arbitration. The sooner the
better.
Sincerely,
Danny Glove

pbandj

May 28, 2009
Mr. Bruce S. Raynor
General President
UNITE HERE
275 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10001-6708
Mr. John Wilhelm
President/Hospitality Industry
UNITE HERE
1775 K Street, NW Suite 620
Washington, DC 20005-1598
Dear Bruce and John:
I'm writing as a friend and sister to say as plainly as I can that the battle between
HERE and UNITE, and the increasingly bitter nature of it needs to end now.
The
inflamed rhetoric; the barrage of accusatory correspondence,
advertisements and robo-calls; the judicial and parliamentary
maneuvering; the internal annexations and purges; and the appeals to
the rest of the labor movement to take sides paint and increasingly
ugly and unrepresentative picture that threatens to stain two proud
traditions, damage the interest of your members, and do irrevocable
harm to the reputations of all involved.
This
conflict is causing collateral damage that goes beyond the current and
former leadership and members of UNITE HERE to harm the labor movement
as a whole. The longer it continues, the less likely we are to enact a
strong Employee Free Choice Act that has the potential to improve the
lives of millions of American working families. These hostilities
undercut efforts currently under way to build a strong united labor
movement that can speak and act in unison for good jobs, quality
education, universal health care, and social and economic justice for
all Americans.
I
ask both of you to look past your individual grievances and agree on a
separation that is clean, final, and fair. Joe Hansen's good work and
recommendations provide a reasonable basis and possible first step for
such a settlement, as does binding arbitration or some combination of
the two. You will find many in the labor movement, including myself,
who are willing to offer such assistance as may be useful in helping to
bring this conflict to a speedy and fair end.
It
is with deep sense of respect, solidarity and urgency that I implore
you to cease hostilities immediately and agree on a settlement or a
process for effecting a fair and workable dissolution so that you can
move on in peace and turn your attention and considerable talents to
the important and necessary work of building a strong, growing and
unified labor movement.
Together you have the power to turn the page on this chapter and move forward.
For the sake of our movement, I ask you to do so.
In unity,
Randi Weingarten
President
Cc: John Sweeney, AFL-CIO
Anna Burger, Chair, Change to Win
AFL-CIO Executive Committee
Change to Win Leadership Council

winny pillow

Lawyers representing the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) filed charges today with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over financial ties between Bank of America and the Washington, D.C.-based Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that appear to be gross violations of federal labor laws.

The charges allege that Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, whose 234,000 employees SEIU has taken steps to organize, offered SEIU at least $88 million in prohibited financial support in the form of loans. Federal law bars loans, gifts and other financial ties between employers and unions attempting to organize their employees. Unions that take money from the companies whose workers they seek to represent are considered "employer-dominated unions."

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/06/17/18602196.php

 

stop raiding

PBandJ,

 

The letters you post from labour leaders all have 2 things in common - Joe Hansen's recommendations and binding arbitration. UNITE-HERE has articulated their disdain for binding arbitration (as most trade unionists would) for very legitimate reasons posted above in the Wilhelm letter. The Hansen mediation was seen as a viable path but was rejected by your boss - Andy Stern. These lettters obviously indicate the desire by other Unions for this to be settled but repeatedly Labour leaders have called for SEIU to accept the Hansen recommendations yet they are unwilling. I would encourage all WU'ers, like yourself, to tell your leadership to accept Hansen's recommendations then all involved can move on.

 

Wilhelm reference to Hansen recommendation:

 

"President Hansen's recommendations provided a clear path to settlement. SEIU rejected the heart of those recommendations: that the hotel and gaming membership and organizing jurisdiction belong in UNITE HERE, and that UNITE HERE must have sufficient assets "for the future viability and health of the union."

President Hansen's ringing endorsement of UNITE HERE's core industry jurisdiction echoes a founding principle of Change to Win. In his words:

"I believe workers have the best opportunity to improve their lives when they join together throughout an industry as one union. Carving up core industry jurisdiction weakens the ability of a union to combine its resources in organizing and bargaining with national employers - and it diminishes the voice workers have on the job."

stop raiding

PBandJ,

Just a little post-script on binding arb. I have a sneaking suspicion that Danny Glover's letter and all those WU leaders' public endorsements for binding arb will lead to it being thrown back in the faces of the members each time they sit down to bargain with their employers. I believe that WU members have been denied a real voice in all of this and when the dust final settles they are going to realize that the breakaway ordeal was just the beginning of the problems that they're going to face due to the bad decisions made by the likes of Stern and Raynor.

stop raiding

 

 

http

3to1majority

In a classic Andy Stern spin machine press release, U.S. SEIU claimed that 10,000 Fresno, CA homecare workers had chosen SEIU over the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) - the union formed by the former SEIU local leaders removed from office by Stern when they refused to go along with his plans to merge thousands of their members into another local that had been plagued by a corruption scandal.

The truth: the vote count was 2,938 to 2,705 - a margin of only 233 votes.  Now we finally see where Workers United learned to claim that 150,000 members "voted" to leave UNITE HERE and affiliate with SEIU.

U.S. SEIU allegedly spent US$10 million of the membership's dues money on the Fresno campaign.  U.S. SEIU used the same types of attack mailings and robo-calls that Bruce Raynor paid for with UNITE HERE dues money in his attempt to destroy UNITE HERE and sell it to U.S. SEIU.  At a price of $3403 per vote for SEIU, the rest of SEIU's 2.2 million members must wonder if they got much bang for their buck.

I am curious to know how Canadian SEIU members - or Workers United members, for that matter - feel about their dues subsidizing U.S. SEIU's attack on its California members.  Would any of you like to comment?

Interestingly, the pro-SEIU vote was generated by 900 paid SEIU organizers who barraged the members' homes, while NUHW - having no access to membership dues - fielded a relative handful of volunteer rank-and-file organizers.  The rank-and-filers were fighting for their union, while the SEIU staffers were just doing a distasteful job.  The same was true in Toronto earlier this year when SEIU-related American organizers failed dismally in their raid on UNITE HERE Local 75 under the guise of the Canadian Hospitality and Entertainment Workers union (CHEW).

The Fresno fiasco again reveals the conflict between two competing visions for the North American labour movement.  One manifests itself in Stern, Raynor, Hargrove/Magna, top-down deals with bosses, concessions, centralized bureaucracy hiding beneath a shell of democracy.  The other is represented by rank-and-file leadership committees, industry-based organizing and strong local unions coordinating their fights with employers across cities, provinces and countries.  Rhetoric alone will not matter; whichever model beats the bosses will prevail.

global_crisis

TW:

I'm glad to hear that you are concerned about democracy.  I am too.  But I'm concerned about democracy in all unions.  You seem to have a blind spot when it comes to a certain union, namely UNITE HERE and local 75, which is my realm of expirence.

Again I ask how is it democratic to have a solidarity commitee to which becomes a member when staff feel you have "earned" it which has the same voice and power as people on the executive committee who were voted in by the members.  Seems like staff get to have their cake (claims of a democratic union) and eat it too (continued control of the local).

And then there's the whole shop stewards in Local 75 not being elected thing...

All unions are struggling with these problems.  I just wish we could all be a little more honest about the problems so we could actually address them and fix them rather than playing a higher than thou role.

I wish the members of Workers United good luck and I do hope they can perserve democratic control in their union and build on it.  But seriously TW, give me a break about your "concerns" about democracy.  You know this is all about money.  It's about getting a treasure chest that the UNITE HERE leadership can burn through while the membership continue to face the economic collapse that is happening around us and suffer.

Enough of the chest pounding TW, enough.

stop raiding

Not big on the military imagery but a well written piece that really paints a hghly disconcerting picture for SEIU members under the current leadership of Andy Stern.

 

http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=7059

 

Is Fresno SEIU's Vietnam?
by Randy Shaw‚ Jun. 22‚ 2009

 

SEIU defeated NUHW by 233 votes in their bitter election over Fresno's 10,000 home care workers, but now faces a situation analogous to the United States in Vietnam. It took nearly one thousand staffers and an estimated $10 million for SEIU to eke out a victory in Fresno, the labor equivalent of carpet-bombing. But just as the massive bombing of North Vietnam failed to bring the United States an ultimate victory, SEIU's Fresno campaign left its opposition unvanquished, and likely better positioned than SEIU to win future elections.

SEIU's Fresno campaign leader Dave Regan echoed Air Force leader General Curtis LeMay's "total war" strategy toward the Vietnamese when he promised "to drive a stake through heart of the thing that is NUHW," and "put them in the ground and bury them." Regan insisted, "this is not an election that we want to win 52 to 48, or by a few hundred votes. We want them to believe when we are done here that it is hopeless. We got to give them a butt whipping they will never forget ... And a year from now or three years from now or five years from now we are all gonna sit back and say, 'I was there when we kicked those SOBs in Fresno County.'" But Fresno is more likely to be recalled as the place where NUHW survived SEIU's "total war" strategy, leaving SEIU in a Vietnam-like quagmire.

 

The Numbers

 

SEIU won 2938 to 2705, with 90 challenged ballots. While NUHW is challenging the outcome, it accomplished its larger goal of leaving Fresno with wind at its back. And with NUHW well positioned to win decertification elections for over 35,000 SEIU home care workers in San Francisco and Sacramento later this year, NUHW could soon have sufficient resources to challenge SEIU throughout California.

The election was closer than I (and no doubt SEIU) anticipated because turnout was less than expected. Although I had confirmed from sources connected to both unions that 6500 ballots had been submitted prior to the last weekend of balloting, the actual number did not reach 5800. Clearly, some workers were so tired of being contacted that they said they had voted when they had not.

SEIU had announced a week prior to the end of balloting that it had 5000 supporters. Either workers lied to SEIU staff, or some crew members submitted higher than real numbers to show superiors they were doing a great job.

 

A Blow to SEIU's Model

 

NUHW and others have criticized SEIU for allegedly creating large bargaining units that do not train, educate or empower workers. Fresno appears to confirm that SEIU's rush to get more workers under union contracts as the key strategy for gaining greater clout over national policies has come at a cost. Nearly half of SEIU's Fresno homecare workers voted to leave their union, and just as the United States learned in Vietnam, you can have a huge edge in ground troops, money and technology and still fail to win the hearts and minds of your audience.

This is the message that NUHW is taking from Fresno. As spokesperson Paul Kumar told me, "the election demonstrates that SEIU is a hollowed shell of a union. It spent $10 million, and still could barely win a majority of worker support." Kumar asks how SEIU will find the resources to contest with NUHW in future elections, arguing that its model in Fresno is financially "unsustainable."

One does not have to share Kumar's overall assessment to acknowledge that if SEIU barely prevailed among an electorate where NUHW's base was weak, and whose physical isolation made it more susceptible to SEIU's massive advertising and outreach campaign, than SEIU faces major challenges elsewhere. Specifically, there may be nothing SEIU can feasibly do to keep its Bay Area homecare workers, and hospital workers throughout much of the state, from leaving for NUHW.

 

SEIU's California Problem

 

Just as Vietnam revealed the United States' inability to impose its will on other nations, Fresno has exposed SEIU's vulnerability in California. The fact that SEIU had to parachute in so many top staffers from outside California to run its Fresno campaign raises serious questions about the union's hold on the state - which includes a full third of its entire membership.

Two years ago, Sal Rosselli and Tyrone Freeman were SEIU's two most powerful California leaders; today, Rosselli heads NUHW and Freeman has departed from SEIU after resigning in disgrace. Tracy Zeloff, SEIU's longtime State Council leader in California, announced during the Fresno campaign that she was resigning to pursue other interests.

Eliseo Medina and Dave Regan were brought in to run SEIU-UHW after Rosselli's departure, but Medina has far too many other important responsibilities to focus exclusively on California, and Regan has little if any experience west of Ohio. And after Regan's widely publicized and embarrassing pre-election call on SEIU organizers to "administer an old-school ass-whipping" to workers who support NUHW, one senses that he should have awaited the Fresno outcome before relocating his family to California.

SEIU is fighting NUHW on the latter's home turf, and without strong indigenous leadership. That's why SEIU's massive effort to break the spirit of NUHW in Fresno made sense - SEIU clearly understood that if NUHW came out of Fresno with a win, or with only a narrow defeat, it was only a matter of time before much of SEIU's health care and hospital workers voted to leave as well.

And like the United States in Vietnam, SEIU lacks the local leadership to forestall future defeats.

 

SEIU's Quagmire

 

In September, SEIU bargaining units of around 35,000 home care workers in Sacramento and San Francisco will file for decertification elections. If SEIU could not win easily in Fresno, it is unlikely to prevail in NUHW's strongest base. The next year will see decertification elections throughout the state's major hospitals, an arena where NUHW is particularly strong.

As NUHW starts winning elections, SEIU is faced with throwing more money and staff into many unwinnable campaigns. This California fight could drain SEIU's treasury and morale for years.

Just as the United States wasted billions of dollars and thousands of lives in Vietnam after generals knew we could not prevail, SEIU President Andy Stern is unlikely to now seek peace with Rosselli and NUHW. SEIU will instead vigorously fight the next wave of decertification elections, even if it means diverting staff from organizing the millions of non-union health care workers across the nation.

 

What a tragedy.

 

Just as Lyndon Johnson allowed Vietnam to undermine the War on Poverty, SEIU has chosen the pivotal first year of the Obama Administration - with the Employee Free Choice Act already at risk - to battle NUHW in California and UNITE HERE throughout North America. None of these fights add to the ranks of unionized workers, while breaking the spirit of many union members caught in the crossfire.

And in both cases, these battles will not end on SEIU's chosen terms, despite the resources expended.

 

Applying the Lessons of Vietnam

 

Andy Stern and other SEIU leaders were among the 1960's activists who protested the ongoing quagmire of Vietnam and urged President Johnson to withdraw U.S. troops. But just as Johnson feared to be seen as "leaving" a fight, SEIU will likely continue battling NUHW regardless of the financial and organizational costs.

Imagine, however, if Andy Stern decided to make peace with both NUHW and UNITE HERE. He would announce that labor movement unity must take precedence during a time of battles over EFCA, universal health care, state budget cuts, and other critical issues facing working people.

Sound crazy? Well, earlier this year SEIU reached an accord with its longtime opponent, the California Nurses Association, not long after Stern and his allies vowed to essentially drive their adversary into the sea. Stern did not build SEIU into the nation's largest union without street smarts, and if he reached agreement with NUHW and UNITE HERE his popularity and stature would go through the roof.

SEIU was correct: Fresno was a game-changer. But the game did not change in SEIU's favor. Now SEIU will either stay on a path leading to quagmire, or chart a new course toward a stronger, unified labor movement.

Randy Shaw is the Editor of Beyond Chron and the author of Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century

3to1majority

How strange: the "leadership" of Workers United must not have known about the CUPE rally at Toronto City Hall yesterday because nobody from their "union" showed up.  The rest of the labour movement thought solidarity with 24,000 striking city workers was worth their time.  Maybe Workers Untied was too busy raiding UNITE HERE...

TW

As many of you probably know, UNITE HERE's convention is taking place right now in Chicago. See this interesting article from Beyond Chron's Randy Shaw covering recent developments there.

The most interesting news is that leaders of 15 major unions in the US have pledged to provide 'material and moral' support to UNITE HERE in the face of raids and agreesive tactics by SEIU. These heads of unions lead 10 million workers across the country.

This news is significant since in the initial stages of the attempted UNITE/Workers United disaffiliation, Bruce Raynor and Alex Dagg tried to assure their leaders, staff and members the American labour movement would rally around UNITE/Workers United's cause. This is clearly not happening. In fact, even Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers has come out in support of UNITE HERE (a leader Raynor and Stern claimed was firmly in their camp).

From a Canadian perspective, I wonder how leaders of SEIU Canada will react? We haven't seen any raiding attempts or anti-union tactics from SEIU here in Canada, and I suspect they feel even better about their position now.

By the way, global_crisis, I don't honestly feel like I've engaged in any chest pounding. (I won't even mention the allegation that the leader you support has mis-directed $12 million in union funds to raiding activity against the very union he was legally bound to protect). I feel strongly about defending my union from an unscrupulous, bureaucratic bosses' union - I think that makes me a lot like the millions of other workers and unionists in North America who support worker-led, democratic fighting unions. See you at the CUPE picket line!

3to1majority

You can see the pledge of support for UNITE HERE against SEIU's raid attempts by clicking here.

Gary Shaul Gary Shaul's picture

I will admit I haven't read the whole thread - too painful :) And I don't have a position except that I personally believe working people should have a choice about what union represents them. They should not been seen as chattel. 

What keeps going through my mind is the situation several years ago when a number of dissatisfied SEIU locals in Canada attempted to join the CAW. The SEIU was clear about their position that it was a raid. The CAW was booted from the labour movement and still haven't rejoined the Ontario Federation of Labour (although they were back in the CLC after a few months if I recall). 

Now the shoe appears to be on the other foot. How does SEIU justify their action (raid?) in light of its very strong position that anyone who ever joins the SEIU must remain a member for life? Looks like a one-way street position to me. 

Unionist

Those who mobilize the workers' resources and energy and enthusiasm for the purpose of raiding - or defending against raids - do not have the workers' best interests at heart. Your remark about workers as "chattel" is very well taken, Gary. Workers should be able to shed their leaders and/or their union label whenever they democratically decide to do so. That doesn't sit very well with those who own buildings and banks and corporations and call themselves "union leaders".

 

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