No organization likes bad publicity. And when allied organizations create it, disavowing ties to them becomes attractive. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has exercised that option - at least on the surface. On Wednesday, September 30, the union's secretary-treasurer, Anna Burger, told a congressional panel that her organization no longer has a working relationship with the New Orleans-based nationwide nonprofit "anti-poverty" network ACORN, an acronym for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. ACORN, as almost everyone in this country with a pulse knows by now, has been the target of federal and state investigations into a wide range of criminal activity. A very embarrassing and widely-aired homemade undercover video hasn't helped its case. Yet all the same, the union's move looks like a case of bait and switch.
In a June 30 letter to the White House, Wal-Mart endorsed Obama's health care plan. The letter was jointly signed by Andrew Stern, boss of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and John Podesta, who led the Obama transition team and is chief executive of the Soros-funded Center for American Progress.
Although the move was unexpected to some, it was no surprise to NLPC. In a Special Report published in 2006 and updated in 2008, I chronicled the company's move to the Left in a futile campaign to placate liberal critics like Wal-Mart Watch, funded by SEIU. On major issues except for "card check," Wal-Mart has become a powerful tool of liberal activist groups.
Submitted by NLPC Staff on Wed, 07/01/2009 - 22:15
NLPC President Peter Flaherty debates Wal-Mart's embrace of Obama health care with Nancy Skinner, talk show host; Julie Roginsky, Comprehensive Communications Group; and Dana Milbank, Washington Post; and CNBC host Dennis Kneale.
The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is a triumph of rhetoric over reality. In the name of expanding worker choice, this proposed federal legislation, stalled for the past couple years, effectively would eliminate secret-ballot elections for nonunion workers seeking to decide whether to join a union and would mandate government arbitration if collective bargaining following a successful "card check" fails to produce a settlement. EFCA is coercive to the benefit of organized labor, a fact that extends to finances. And unions, once having realized a dues windfall, will use a certain portion of that money to fund political activity of the sort that put the bill on the front burner in the first place. An ad hoc nonprofit group, the Workforce Fairness Institute, recently released a report estimating union-controlled political activism would exceed $1.75 billion, at minimum, in the initial decade.
In labor as in business, a merger doesn't always work out. In the case of UNITE HERE, which until recently represented more than 400,000 hotel, food service, textile, laundry and other workers, it's a marriage gone sour. The odd man out is General President Bruce Raynor. But he's far from out of the picture. In fact, he may wind up on top. Raynor and anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 supporters recently jumped ship and formed a new union, Workers United, which recently elected him president and affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). To say that UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm is not on the best of terms with either Raynor or Service Employees President Andrew Stern is an understatement.
Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, often has emphasized his commitment to building a lean, efficient organization. His union and unions generally, he argues, need to aggressively cut costs and generate revenues in every way possible. Yet the SEIU is a union in major financial trouble. Its pension plan is no exception. Several weeks ago, the Washington, D.C.-based SEIU National Industry Pension Fund (NIPF) revealed in an April 30 letter to union leadership that the pension plan was in "critical status," or the "red zone." This "Notice of Critical Status" stated as follows: "This is to inform you that on March 31, the Plan actuary certified to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and also to the Trustees, that the Plan is in critical status (the "red zone") for the plan year beginning January 1, 2009. Federal law requires that you receive this notice."
The ongoing battle between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and a major California health care workers affiliate for the last several months has been in its special-ops phase. And the parent union, not happy over its sudden bad publicity, may owe a substantial sum to the security firm it hired to keep the peace. On May 1, the OSO Group, Ltd. sued the SEIU and an allied security firm in San Francisco federal court, demanding back payment for surveillance and security services related to a trusteeship that the SEIU imposed upon the dissident Oakland-Calif.-based United Health Workers-West (UHW) in January. OSO has close ties to a union-busting company that broke a UHW strike four years ago.
The widely anticipated break has come to pass:The United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) has severed its ties to the Service Employees International Union.And as SEIU officials at Washington, D.C. headquarters refuse to accept the decision by the 150,000-member California affiliate, the prospect of prolonged labor strife, possibly even violent, has become real.Led by its longtime president, Sal Rosselli, the Oakland-based UHW announced on Wednesday, January 28 its formal secession from the parent organization and its intention to form a new union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers.More than 100 local officers and board members approved the action.The move occurred only one day after Stern had replaced its leadership, alleging misuse of union funds for political purposes and refusal to go along with a reorganization plan.
What began as a war of words is evolving into a war of actions.And by all appearances, the rift between the Service Employees International Union and a major California health care affiliate is bound to escalate further.On Wednesday, January 21, Dave Regan, a top SEIU official, flew out to Oakland on a mission from Washington, D.C. headquarters:Remove Sal Rosselli from the helm of United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW), a local now claiming some 150,000 members.The international union is alleging that Rosselli, a bitter critic of SEIU President Andrew Stern, has engaged in financial malpractice.Rosselli, for his part, denies all wrongdoing.Maybe it’s not the kind of help he wants, but his loyalists now are displaying a willingness to storm the barricades.
The insurrection by a major California affiliate of the Service Employees International Union against Washington, D.C. headquarters is getting closer by the month to an all-out confrontation.The dissenting faction, known as United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) and led by Sal Rosselli, for the last couple years has been openly critical of international President Andrew Stern and his top lieutenants for focusing on membership expansion at the expense of quality contracts.On September 17, nearly 30 members of the Oakland, Calif.-based local took the battle to a new level, filing a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that accuses SEIU leaders of suppressing their rights.The action, a retort to a failed action this spring by the parent union, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.