THE ELECTION of Barack Obama last November seemed to promise a new era for organized labor. With Obama in the White House and a solid Democratic majority in Congress, it appeared that unions would finally be able to get action on their main legislative agenda—passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a measure that would make it easier for workers to join a union. And with the world’s press gathered outside Obama’s Chicago home during the transition period, a victorious factory occupation at the Republic Windows and Doors plant in that city captured the imagination of the country, and even got some encouraging words from Obama himself. Soon afterwards, workers at the huge Smithfield pork processing plant in North Carolina voted to unionize after more than a decade of vicious anti-union actions by the company. Hopes were high that unions were set to go on the offensive.
A few months later, the picture is quite different. The chances for the passage of EFCA appear bleak. The biggest union in the country, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), was embroiled in the undemocratic takeover of its 150,000-member West Coast health care local. At the same time, the SEIU intervened in the internal conflict of another union, UNITE HERE, once its closest ally, to annex 150,000 members of a breakaway faction. The old UNITE leader, Bruce Raynor sought refuge in the SEIU because, he claimed, the HERE side was spending organizing money wastefully; the top HERE official, John Wilhelm, accused Raynor of bargaining for low wages and poor working standards, Stern style, in order to convince employers to allow unfettered organizing. At stake is not only union jurisdiction over hotels and casinos, but control of the only union-owned bank, the Amalgamated Bank, which had $4.47 billion in assets in 2008.
The SEIU and the Hollow Shell It Left Behind
By CAL WINSLOW
What is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)? And why is it at war with the Labor Movement?
The SEIU is currently up to its neck in a bloody war with California healthcare workers led by the new National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) – a conflict SEIU leader Bill Ragen quite rightly compared to the US Occupation of Iraq – “easy to get into, then a slog …
More than a hundred healthcare workers picketed the Oakland office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) yesterday, protesting the Board’s failure to schedule union elections for tens of thousands of workers who want to leave the scandal-plagued SEIU. Nearly 100,000 workers petitioned to join NUHW after SEIU’s hostile takeover of California’s healthcare union in […]
NLRB has kept workers trapped in SEIU for more than five months by failing to schedule union elections
Oakland, Calif.—More than a hundred healthcare workers picketed the Oakland office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today, protesting the Board’s failure to schedule union elections for tens of thousands of workers who want to leave the scandal-plagued SEIU.
The NLRB’s neglect has allowed SEIU officials to wage a months-long campaign of intimidation against workers who support NUHW, while extracting millions more dollars in dues from workers who have plainly rejected them.
Randy Shaw of Beyond Chron reports on last weekend’s Unite Here convention: “The real story of this convention is that this is no longer a fight between SEIU and UNITE HERE. Rather, it is SEIU vs. the American Labor Movement.” The labor movement has united against SEIU’s anti-union attacks that divide workers and weaken our […]