SEIU UHW Pres Rosselli calls Andy Stern lawsuit ‘PR circus’ and ‘hoax’
Rosselli calls lawsuit ‘PR circus’ and ‘hoax’
Posted by Shane Goldmacher
Sal Rosselli, the president of the California chapter of SEIU targeted in a lawsuit by the union’s national leadership, said Tuesday the suit is a “political hoax to smear us.”
Rosselli, who is the president of United Healthcare Workers-West, a 140,000-member SEIU affiliate, has feuded openly with Andy Stern, SEIU national president.
“The lawsuit and the PR circus around it are a hoax perpetrated on you, the press, and our members in order to smear us and shut down the Stern team’s political opposition,” Rosselli said in an interview Tuesday.
He said the suit is part of a pattern of “constant threat and retaliation” from Stern for UHW-West seeking changes to how SEIU national operates to become – in Rosselli’s terms – “more democratic.”
Among the reforms Rosselli is seeking is to allow local workers elect bargaining units instead of having those members appointed by Stern. There are too many “examples of him cutting sweetheart deals with employers,” Rosselli said.
The SEIU lawsuit alleges that Rosselli’s union inappropriately diverted members' dues into an outside fund.
Read more about the lawsuit (and other Rosselli-Stern confrontations) in the previous Capitol Alert post.
Rosselli said the fund in question, the United Healthcare Workers and Patients Education Fund, was created in 2007 during the California health care debate in expectation of a November 2008 ballot measure.
“We wanted to be able to raise the huge dollars necessary,” Rosselli said.
Stern raised questions about the fund last month and, in response, Rosselli’s union passed a resolution on April 24 to “initiate the process of winding down” the account.
In a letter to Stern sent on Monday, Rosselli wrote, “The time has come to abandon this ‘alleged concern.’”
Instead, Stern filed suit against Rosselli today.
“UHW-W has scrambled at the last minute to do damage control,” said SEIU spokesman Andrew McDonald. ”While it is good that UHW-W now understands the serious problems with their actions, it is very troubling they were willing to perpetuate unlawful actions until those actions were exposed.”
Rosselli called the suit “frivolous.” “The remedy they are seeking from the lawsuit was decided last week,” he said.
With the ongoing feud between Rosselli and Stern, rumors have swirled that Stern could put Rosselli's union in "trusteeship," stripping control of the union from Rosselli.
In the lawsuit, SEIU calls that fear "unfounded," but suggests the “real purpose” for creating the education fund “to establish a well-financed entity with access to a ready source of funds beyond the reach of SEIU's auditing, oversight, and trusteeship powers.”
Rosselli said the accusation was simply “not true.”
Asked if this latest dust-up with the national leadership was causing him or his union to consider leaving SEIU, Rosselli insisted that was not the case.
“Our executive board unanimously believes SEIU is our union,” he said. “We are trying to change it. We are not going anywhere.”
In June, SEIU has scheduled national convention in Puerto Rico where many these grievances are expected to be aired.
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