SF Weekly: Ousted labor leader Rosselli forms own union, targets SEIU workers—and doesn’t expect SEIU to play nice

NUHW In the NewsFebruary 2, 2009

By Matthew Smith

This summer, the Service Employees International Union plans to spend some $50 million to ensure passage of a labor-friendly law that would allow any workforce to join a union if more than half of its employees sign a petition. Currently, workers approve whether a union should represent them in elections which, labor leaders say, can be easily manipulated by employers.

Renegade labor leader Sal Rosselli today said the SEIU, America’s largest union, has an opportunity in California to achieve the goals of the Employee Free Choice Act without spending a cent. How?

“Just step out of the way,” said Rosselli, during a Monday conference call with reporters.

Last week Rosselli and other union representatives were fired from their jobs representing 150,000 health care workers under the banner of SEIU affiliate United Healthcare Workers-West. SEIU national boss Andy Stern accused Rosselli of financial improprieties. Rosselli says the charges are bogus, and called his firing a power grab.

In response, Rosselli and his allies last week turned around and formed a new union, National Union of Healthcare Workers. During the past five days, workers with the new union have circulated 64 petitions at hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities.

Rosselli says that at worksites representing 9,000 employees, more than half of the workers have signed petitions stating their wish to switch from SEIU to Rosselli’s new union.

“Additional signatures are being collected as we speak, and we are sure that all of them will be majority status in a day or two,” he said.

If the SEIU were an employer, and if the proposed Employee Free Choice Act were in effect, the union would be compelled to step aside and allow workers to join the new union, Rosselli said.

“This is what we predict: Later today or tomorrow, Andy Stern will launch the most outrageous anti-union campaign against these workers. The Employee Free Choice Act has broad support from members of Congress, and it’s the number one priority of the labor movement, because the playing field is so uneven for working people who want to join unions. It’s the position of of elected officials in our union that where workers are wanting to join a union, employers, and unions, should recognize that.”

Source: SF Weekly