SEIU-Card-Carrying Cash Cows
|I'VE JUST READ Steven Greenhouse's NY Times April 5th article titled "Within
Powerful Union, Debate Over Mission Intensifies". I'm not surprised that
Andy Stern has taken-up the art of obfuscation, but I think that he needs
more practice in that field. I especially found his statements, that "labor
has two stark choices:'Just Us' unionism or 'Justice for All' unionism",
quite off the mark. First of all, we all really would like to see our union
grow. Notice that I said "OUR union", not just THE union. That's where a lot
of the difference lies between Mr. Stern and the rank-and -file. Our union,
SEIU, was never meant to be one person or a corporate-run structure. It was
conceived and raised as a democratic entity. It was designed with the
members as the navigators, deciding the direction. That's what made our
union attract members, participation in their organization. You had the
opportunity to be elected for positions such as an officer, Board member,
Bargaining team member or steward. Being a member of such an organization
carries a substantial amount of pride, because your voice and your vote
counted, especially around bargaining time.
Mr. Stern's insistence that bigger is always better does not ring true.
Giving up quality for quantity is bound to have consequences. Consequences
that WE as union members will have to suffer with at the ground level. Mr.
Stern will not be subject to these consequences, which is why he can afford
to be wrong. Someone with that point of view is looking at OUR union from a
completely different perspective than we are. It's just not enough to
blindly focus on increasing membership, if it takes away the pride of being
a union member. To focus only on statistical membership rolls means that
your only looking at our union members as Cash Cows that are to be herded,
corralled and systematically milked for the dues money. Money that we will
not be under OUR control or have due accountability on how it will be spent.
That's not what OUR union is for and that cannot be considered anything
resembling progress for OUR membership. There is a lot to be said about what
percentage of OUR membership participates in OUR Unions' activities. That's
where the true strength of any union lies. How many members show up for a
rally? How many members run for elected office? How many members actually
vote? How many understand their Constitution and Bylaws? How many members
want to be on the bargaining team? How many people show up for a general
membership meeting? How often is a general membership meeting? How many
active stewards are there? How do they select their stewards? Are their
elected officials held accountable for their actions? How are the members
complaints resolved? Does anyone know when their local Executive Board
meets? Is the local union's financial expenditures hidden from the members?
Is an opposing opinion or constructive criticism from a member, respected?
You won't get the answers to these questions from obedient cash cows, but
you will get them from a strong member-supported union.
Contrary to what Mr. Stern asserts, there are other ways to increase union
membership without kowtowing to employers or asking the employers
permission. Show workers the pride, strength and organizational skills that
made our union great in the first place. Lead through example. It's OK to be
progressive without being submissive.
Sure, it's fair to say that union membership needs to grow, but the growth
should not be more important than the direction. After all, what good is
leading a mega-herd over a cliff?
Dan Mariscal Fight for 347
[View the list]