SEIU International Pouring Resources Into UHW Take-Over
|TO: SEIU International Executive Board
FROM: SEIU UHW Trustees Eliseo Medina and Dave Regan
DATE: March 13, 2009
RE: UHW Trusteeship Update-Progress, Unity, Strength
AS YOU know, trusteeship of SEIU UHW was put into effect almost two months ago. Since that time, SEIU UHW members and staff have been gaining control of the local’s operations and resources, continuing the critical work of the union by bargaining contracts and fighting funding cuts at the state and county level. We believe that despite the many challenges we face, we are making significant progress on behalf of California’s healthcare workers.
The California Budget Crisis
While we are all facing a global economic recession, California’s budget crisis has represented a direct threat to our hundreds of thousands of SEIU members. Each day, SEIU UHW staff and members are fighting and negotiating against damaging IHSS cuts that would significantly impact members’ wages and critical social services. With two million people out of work and a seemingly endless state budget debate, our united voice has never been more important for the security of our members. Together, we have helped protect 95,000 state workers from layoffs and we are using our strength to both protect our members’ gains and expedite federal aid to the state.
Members Celebrate Contract Victory
On March 10, a SEIU UHW member-led bargaining team for nursing home workers at three SunBridge facilities bargained one of their strongest contracts to date. In the midst of one of the biggest budget crises the state has ever faced, this new contract will raise the wages of our members to standards reached at Kindred. And in addition to the $0.60 per hour raise, the contract includes enhanced job protections and the creation of a Quality Care Committee so that workers can have a real voice on care issues.
Protecting Our Members
Over the past eight weeks, the Trustees and SEIU UHW staff have met and worked with steward councils and leadership teams to ensure contract negotiations and bargaining commitments continue to move forward at the local. Last month, the National Labor Relations Board blocked attempts by Sal Rosselli and other former officers of UHW to hold elections after it was revealed that they engaged in unfair labor practices, willfully bargained in bad faith, and jeopardized the security of UHW members. While the NLRB is continuing its investigation, we are working to make sure our union stays strong by meeting with as many UHW stewards and rank-and-file members as possible and making sure they have the full story.
Because of the systematic and intentional efforts of Sal Rosselli and the former leaders of UHW to weaken SEIU UHW, we have filed a federal lawsuit against the former officers of the local. Our suit outlined a series of actions that Sal Rosselli and the former officers of UHW engaged in, including theft of UHW property, destruction of critical UHW bargaining documents and records, and widespread intimidation efforts against employees who chose to continue to work for UHW after the trusteeship.
NUHW on the Retreat
It is no surprise that we face a barrage of press releases, flyers and accusations from the former leaders of UHW. However, despite their efforts to weaken our union, there are already clear signs that we are gaining support among the majority of UHW members and that workers are ready to take back their union when armed with the truth.
This week, Sal Rosselli’s breakaway union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), withdrew from its first contested election at Alameda Hospital, in the Bay Area. The only evidence of support NUHW ever produced before withdrawing was 46 dues revocations—of which 38 members have already filled out rescission forms and re-signed UHW membership cards.
This also calls into question their wild (and to date, unsupported) claims of large numbers of member petitions to decertify UHW. As you will remember, this is not the first time this group of individuals has claimed to have a large number of petitions for which we never found evidence. Since the efforts of NUHW to raid SEIU UHW members includes a number of individuals at Kaiser and CHW – each protected by a contract bar – their actual support is anyone’s guess. However, at a meeting Sal Rosselli held with SEIU UHW members at Washington Township Hospital this week, perhaps Sal put it best:
When asked by a member, "How many hospitals do you actually represent?" Sal hedged a bit, and when pressed, admitted "none."
The members walked out.
As a final note, we want to give our thanks to a number of you who have contributed support and resources to help our sisters and brothers in California. In particular, thanks go to:
District 1199 WKO
SEIU HC FL
SEIU HC IL/IN
SEIU HC MI
SEIU HC PA
SEIU HC MN
SEIU HC WI
Each of your locals has helped us in immeasurable ways, and you have our thanks.
We will continue to update you with our progress and thank you for your solidarity as we continue to rebuild SEIU UHW into a strong, democratic, member-driven local union.
Eliseo Medina Dave Regan
SEIU UHW Trustee SEIU UHW Trustee
[View the list]