SEIU Sterns' Answer To Corruption: A Band-Aid on a Bullet Wound
|AFTER HAVING three of his appointed union officials "step aside" (read; paid
vacation) because of charges and evidence of financial malfeasance with
their members' hard-earned dues money, the embattled President of SEIU
International now calls for "action". In an obvious publicity stunt, he
issues a press release and calls for advice from the Teamsters for a
Democratic Union (TDU) and the Association for Union Democracy (AUD). Now,
Stern displays a commonality with Presidential Candidate John McCain; It's
not that he doesn't care, he just doesn't get it.
Despite the rank and file's consistent and ubiquitous call for a return to
union democracy, that Stern worked against, he consistently chooses to
ignore what the members are demanding; control over their own union. The
rank and files' message is loud and unmistakably clear; they want ELECTED
leaders, not SELECTED leaders! Because of the multiple investigations
regarding corruption are ongoing, SEIU has suffered a bullet wound, and the
Stern administration is calling for a band-aid remedy. Unbelievable!
In an obvious and desperate bid to try to hang on to power, by any means
necessary, he seeks to contract outside help instead of implementing the
obvious solution, which is to immediately begin implementing the procedures
to elect our own leaders in a fair, open and honest election. It is
disappointing and disheartening, when posed with a fork on the road, to see
that Stern has chosen the wrong path..... again.
Stern's chosen path is, in essence, a message to the rank and file. The
message is that the rank and file are not capable or trustworthy of
governing themselves. But, guess what; his shinning examples of appointed
union leadership appeared to have lost their luster as well, and scarred the
whole labor movememt. How is this going to effect our ability to grow our
Now, Stern must take responsibility for the decisions that he has made and,
most of all, he must be held accountable. After all, financial
improprieties, with our dues money, are not traits that we are born with;
they must be taught. Where do you suppose Rickman Jackson, Tyrone Freeman
and Annelle Grajeda got their technique for union leadership? What do they
all have in common as appointed union officials? Hmmmmmm. Interesting, isn't
It's interesting enough to attract the attention of the Los Angeles Times,
the Department of Labor, and the U.S. Congress. Now that's some serious
stuff. Others are now jumping on the bandwagon, as well.
Mr. Sterns' war on union democracy has also resulted in yet another
battlefield; the continuing attempt at trusteeship of United Healthcare
Worker's West (UHW-W), the 160,000 member example of union democracy in
California. The trusteeship hearings will be in Northern California
September 26 and 27, 2008. Stern wants to drag 65,000 of them, kicking and
screaming, into, of all places.... Local 6434 (Tyrone Freeman's Local). Mr.
Stern is attempting to split this union, and it's resources, as a response
to it's Presidents', Sal Rosselli, dissident pro-democracy voice. But this
fight is not really about a Stern vs. Rosselli boxing match. It is also not
about corruption. This isn't just about restructuring a Healthcare union.
The stakes are much higher than that. This is about union democracy, the
members voice and its' future in the Labor Movement. Trusteeship of a local
must not be used as a political tool to muffle the voice of the rank and
file and/or stifle dissent. This is commonly known as an abuse of power and
authority. But nonetheless, trusteeship seems to be Sterns' weapon of
choice. Not very desirable qualities in any leader, but consistent with the
path that leads to corruption.
As the Government authorities now continue to dig into the dealings of
SEIU, what they may uncover could be influential to the future of SEIU and
to the Stern Administration. But one thing is certain; the Labor Movement in
America has been made to suffer over the misdeeds of appointed SEIU
officials. Whatever happens, the situation should not be made worse by
further bad administrative decisions.
Interestingly enough, this is also a unique opportunity for a demonstration
of some true leadership abilities from President Stern. But the question is;
can he deliver? Or will he stubbornly continue on a path that will cause
further erosion of the Labor Movement and solidify his opposition to the
movement for union Democracy, ignoring the outcry of the rank and file for
leadership, accountability and....justice for all.
Dan Mariscal, Steward SEIU Local 347 (Local 347 was "stealthly"
placed in Emergency Trusteehip by Mr. Stern).
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