Stop Rigging and Gerrymandering the SEIU Elections
|Stop Rigging and Gerrymandering the SEIU Elections for SEIU International Convention in Puerto Rico
Statement to 2/26/2008 Pre-Convention in Los Angeles
FOLLOWING THE TRADITION of Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa, SEIU interim presidents, appointed by Andy Stern, are manipulating the election process, disenfranchising local union members and trying to shut down the voices of the rank and file.
Most members of the SEIU are still unaware that there will be a 2008 SEIU International Convention at the end of May in Puerto Rico.
Unfortunately, at many of the merged locals the appointed officials are
working full time to prevent members from having proper representation at their own convention or a voice in the delegate election process. Stern
appointees are setting the stage for his SEIU top-down leadership model to be approved at the convention, without acknowledging the increasingly widespread national rank and file revolt against Stern's disenfranchisement of member's federal and democratic rights to self-governance.
Annelle Grajeda, who was appointed by Andy Stern to run SEIU Local 721, has told 721 retirees that they will no longer be allowed to have representation at the International convention. This, despite the fact that the bylaws of the International Convention provide that Retiree chapters are entitled to delegates. Apparently Stern has appointed an officer that has not even read her own international bylaws. This is not surprising since Stern has personally told 40 year member Norma Harvey, who was the last duly elected representative of the 5,000 member organization, previously known as the Local 660 Seniors Association, that not only could she not be a delegate but he personally would not allow her to attend the convention "even if she paid her own way."
In Northern California's South Bay Local 521, Stern appointed President Kristy Sermersheim has sought to pass new bylaws limiting the right of elected shop stewards and other officers the right to speak out and criticize the Stern leadership and his accomplices in the locals. She has also restructured the appointed Bylaws Committee, removing members opposed to this gag rule language, and blocked notification about these meetings so that members may not observe or participate in the restructuring of their local. At this time, rank and file does not know who is on their bylaws committee, or when meetings are taking place.
Sermersheim has also hand-picked a Local 521 "Election Committee" from rank and file appointees who have presented a plan to allow only a two-hour window for voting across the 46,500 member local. This would, most assuredly, disenfranchise many members who work in public service jobs within the counties of Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Mariposa, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern, Inyo, Mono and Alpine counties, especially those who work in medical centers, transportation, or the libraries, who have varying shifts, from having an equal opportunity to vote. The local could have instituted a mailed ballot that would allow all the members equal opportunity to vote, yet Sermersheim has sought to censor and limit participation, thus allowing only her supporters to get to the polls in support of her slate to the International Convention.
One of the most blatant examples of gerrymandering the election process is the effort by SEIU 721 appointed president, Annelle Grajeda, to cut the number of delegates of SEIU Local 347, which represents 9,000 blue collar workers in the city of Los Angeles. Using a new "Apportionment Plan," Grajeda has cut the number of convention delegates that SEIU Local 347 had in the past, by more than half.
At previous conventions Local 347 was entitled to more than 15 delegates. At this upcoming convention, according to Grajeda, they are only entitled to 7 delegates.
The reason Grajeda has cut their convention representation is that the
leadership of this local is fighting the illegal merger of the 347 with 721.
Members have shown that SEIU president Stern forced a merger improperly without the approval of the City of Los Angeles Employment Board. Members challenged the merger and the board agreed with them that the new merged local was a new organization, despite the fact that the money had already been transferred without approval of the Executive Board of Local 347.
This collective gerrymandering of SEIU rank and file's right to
representation, designed to prevent full participation in the coming
convention, is threatening not only the integrity of the election but the
entire ethical validity of the Stern administration, which seems to have
thrown out the guidelines protecting union members found in the
Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, As Amended (LMRDA).
The LMRDA and SEIU International Constitution and Bylaws state that union members have a right to one person, one vote and equal representation at the national convention, as well as elected, uncensored representation on their bylaws committees. These maneuvers by Stern and his appointees threaten the rights of all members of the SEIU.
We call for a fair and democratic election. These violations of our
democratic rights need to be protested and stopped by members throughout the country. Is this a union we can be proud of if this kind of behavior is tolerated? We want a fair and democratic convention and union!
Write to Andy Stern and Let all our fellow SEIU members know that this is unacceptable.
Members For Democracy
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