SEIU 521 Santa Clara County Workers Independent Slate Wins
|SEIU 521 Santa Clara County Workers Independent Slate Wins Most Positions In Repudiation of Stern's Appointee Kristy Sermershiem
by Steve Zeltzer
IN A STUNNING rejection of SEIU president Andy Stern's appointed operative Kristy Sermershiem, president of SEIU 521, the 11,000 Santa Clara County public workers unit have elected independent candidates who are supporting a democratic and accountable union. Many of the SEIU 521 members are angry that Sermershiem has refused to allow a more democratic process in the local and has supported the SEIU Stern's plan for call centers in which business agents and stewards are replaced with members being forced to find out about their contract issues and grievances through a call center. Many members are also angry that the forced merger created a chaotic situation within many units in the large 40,000 member local.
Sermershiem also during the campaign personally attacked and verbally assaulted members in Monterey for challenging her methods of operation. This election upset now means that the the Stern supporters throughout the state are coming under greater threat. Stern's appointed president Annelle Grajeda, chair of its California state council and president of Los Angeles based SEIU 721 and Tyrone Freeman the Stern appointed head of the Homecare local have been removed by the SEIU International after evidence of corruption and double dipping surfaced in the stories in the Los Angeles Times. These people were appointed directly by SEIU president Andy Stern yet he continues to argue that he was unaware of any malfeasance by his own appointees.
This recent election is a sign of the growing anger of California SEIU rank and file members that is becoming a great danger to the Stern and his national apparatus. Their apparent effort to continue the dismantlement of the 150,000 member United Healthcare West and the unilateral removal of it's president Sal Rosselli is creating even an angrier backlash among SEIU activists in other locals in California. Many of the candidates who were victorious in the SEIU 521 election were vocal in their opposition to the SEIU International's effort to dismantle SEIU UHW as well as the massive merger pushed through in their own local.
Many members are also concerned that Sermersheim and the SEIU statewide has no plans to mobilize against the threatened massive budget cuts facing the membership. Despite a the largest union membership in California, the SEIU has relied on deals with the Democrats to defend their members and this strategy is now in shambles as the California budget crisis is being used by right wing forces to whipsaw public workers throughout California. This is now combined with the increasing internal dissension and anger created by autocratic tactics of the SEIU Stern administration including siding with Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger in support of a insurance company controlled healthcare plan. He personally met with the governor and attended a PR function for the governor at the same time that California SEIU locals were locked in a battle against his attack on public workers.
The growing danger to Stern and his supporters in the International is that their efforts to eliminate opposition in California could end up with them losing the majority of the 700,000 members in California. This would mean a major catharsis for Stern's national and international agenda. His loss in a raid on the FMPR Puerto Rican teachers after spending over $20 million and the growing and deepening opposition throughout the country now threatens his power base even more. The corruption crisis not only in California but in Michigan and in Chicago where one of his Vice Presidents Balanoff was involved in discussions with the governor about a payoff of the chair of "Change To Win" in return for getting a union supported Senator have brought the SEIU into national disrepute and is becoming an increasing scandal within the US labor movement.
The results in the heart of Silicon Valley are likely another nail in the coffin of Stern's plan to centralize and further corporatize the SEIU under his personal control.
SCCO ELECTION RESULTS CHAIR PERSON, DEPUTY CHAIR PERSON VICE CHAIR PERSON 12/30/2008
Chairperson - One Seat % of votes Status
Vincent Reyna 50.31% Winner
Brian O'Neill 49.69%
Deputy Chairperson - Two Seats Status
Robert Castillo Winner
Wren Bradley Winner
Rachel Grocha Welch
Guadalupe E. Sandoval Jr.
Vice Chairpeson Clerical - One Seat Status
Muriel Frederick Winner
Jocelyn Evette Champlin
Vice Chairperson APT - One Seat Status
Aida Tavarez Winner
Vice Chairperson Blue Collar - One Seat Status
Emma Davis Winner
Vice Chairperson Social Workers - One Seat Status
Dan Weidman Winner
Zoraida H. Gomez
Vice Chairperson Eligibility Worker - One Seat Status
Ruben Garcia (Not Contested) Winner
Vice Chairperson Enviromental Health - One Seat Status
Peder Eriksson (Not Contested) Winner
Vice Chairperson Eligibilty Worker & Social
Sharon (Sunny) Burgan (Not Contested) Winner
Delina Morris (Not Contested) Winner
Vice Chairperson Public Health Nurse - No
[View the list]