Newsom administration adopts NUHW budget proposal to preserve 100% of current wages and benefits for IHSS provider
SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2009-10 budget will fully maintain current levels of compensation for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers, in a plan that tracks a costing model proposed last month by the National Union of Healthcare Workers.
Mayor Newsom’s budget proposal is expected to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, preserving $11.54 per hour in wages and all current health benefits for the County’s 17,000 homecare providers. The only change proposed is an increase in monthly health insurance premiums from $3 to $10, a reduction that NUHW leaders say they will continue working to reverse and Newsom administration officials say they will continue to negotiate with the Board of Supervisors.
In two separate incidents this week, workers for the Service Employees International Union have been accused of acts of vandalism toward opposing union supporters.
Home care workers in Clovis and Kerman who support the National Union of Healthcare Workers say people have come to their door, torn down signs in support of NUHW and replaced them with flyers in support of SEIU.
At the 1935 AFL convention, John L. Lewis of the Miners punched Big Bill Hutcheson of the Carpenters, a fight that marked the formation of the CIO and its split from the AFL. Today a similar fight is going on within the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), perhaps the premier labor union of our time. It’s a fight that may have consequences as dramatic for labor as that 1935 battle, but a fight that (so far) is being followed mostly by labor insiders.
SEIU, headed by Andy Stern, is the nation’s fastest growing, most visible, most politically potent labor union. Almost every story about SEIU is about some new way that it is on the offensive, launching one or another surprising new initiative, demonstrating its power and creativity. But this is a story about how SEIU is on the receiving end, seemingly outflanked by a new breakaway union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which appears to be winning unprecedented support from workers and leaving SEIU flat-footed—although SEIU’s power and resources may yet enable it to win.
Ballots were mailed out today in a hotly contested election that pits unions National Union of Healthcare Workers and Service Employees International Union against each other.
Home care workers will be voting on whether to remain members of SEIU or to join NUHW.
According to union organizers, the ballots should start arriving today, and need to be filled out and returned via mail to the State Mediation and Conciliation Service by June 15. The results will be tabulated and issued by June 19.
In May, a similar vote held by workers at Doctor’s Medical Center in San Pablo was overwhelmingly won by NUHW, with the majority of workers there wanting to join the union.
It’s the whole question of whether the labor movement is a handful of very smart people in Washington and New York driving the train and figuring out what’s best for the mass of workers, or whether it’s the kind of union you see in the Culinary in Las Vegas, which certainly has very strong leaders but also enormous rank-and-file activity, ownership and empowerment.
Andy Stern believes the former. He says that contract standards don’t matter, that it’s a workable approach for unions to say to corporate leaders, “Give us card-check agreement, don’t fight unionization and we’ll give you a substandard contact in return.” That will never work.
There’s a big brawl within SEIU about this very issue. Tens of thousands of health care workers left SEIU in California to form a competing union. Stern came into that state and removed popular, elected leaders from a strong local. The rank and file was outraged. He also signed a secret deal with nursing home operators in exchange for card check. The standards were unconscionable.
This represents a race to the bottom that will destroy the labor movement.