My very first post for Fact-esque (a year ago last month on March 28, an anniversary I failed entirely to remember to acknowledge so I will now - Thanks, Rob. It's been real) reported on a fight that was developing between Andy Stein's SEIU and an affiliated West Coast Union run by Sal Rosselli called United Health Care Workers West.
SEIU's Andy Stern was reported by the SF Chronicle yesterday to be threatening to oust the leaders of the Oakland-based United Healthcare Workers West, charging its president, Sal Rosselli with "breaches of fiduciary duty, interference with collective bargaining rights, financial irregularities and unethical conduct".
Three months later in a follow-up, I wrote that Stern was indeed looking like a bit of an old-style union dictator, making contracts in which he agreed to shut his membership up. I called him "powercentric".
What matters is that Stern seems to be willing to weaken his membership's rights and bargaining position for reasons of his own. He also appears to be willing to undercut one of a union's core duties when he asks it to keep its mouth shut about the way management is running the company. It's as if Stern wants his members to sign the union cards and then melt quietly away into the darkness. Dissent will not be tolerated either in the SEIU (Roselli) or in unionized companies, is that it?
Rosselli was far from blameless in all this and the two of them were making a spectacular for anti-unionists to salivate over. I wasn't happy.
At the time, they were in a battle over who was going to control Rosselli's union. It appears that after slightly more than a year of position-jockeying, Stern has won.
Financial assets for the 150,000-member local were immediately seized, the executive board was dissolved, and full-time officers were removed from payroll. Reports circulated among workplace leaders that SEIU also dismissed UHW stewards, and that employers are holding captive-audience meetings to introduce new SEIU-appointed staff representatives.
Stern named Executive Vice Presidents Eliseo Medina and Dave Regan as trustees of UHW. Regan said rank-and-file worksite leaders remain in place.
As word of the trusteeship spread, hundreds of members and supporters rallied at the union’s Oakland headquarters, vowing to resist SEIU’s hostile takeover.
Labor Notes comcludes the article with an acknowledgment that tghis fight wasn't good for anybody and might be harmful to the effort to pass EFCA.