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SEIU UHW Pres Rosselli Challenges SEIU Pres Stern On Healthcare and Power Grab In CA State Council
Source labornet@labornet.org
Date 07/12/13/16:46

www.sacbee.com
December 03, 2007
Rosselli to depart as SEIU president

Sal Rosselli, president of the 600,000-strong SEIU state council, is withdrawing his nomination to remain leader of one of California largest and most influential labor groups in the face of a vote he said "defies acceptable notions of fairness."

Rosselli, president of a 100,000-strong local chapter of the Service Employees International Union, as well as the labor group's statewide umbrella organization, has been locked in an internal union leadership battle with potential implications for the health care overhaul in California.

He informed the state council and national SEIU president Andy Stern ­ who allies of Rosselli accuse of engineering the leadership change ­ of his withdrawal in a letter on Sunday.

"I am writing to notify you and our colleagues in California that I will not accept any nomination to serve as President of the SEIU California State Council," Rosselli wrote. "I do not want any contest for this office to serve as a point of contention among SEIU Locals in California or to hinder in any way our joint effort to win real healthcare reform now."

The state council had scheduled a vote via telephone for Friday to consider replacing Rosselli, but not enough members of the 20-member council called in to establish a quorum.

Now, the council is set to vote via e-mail ­ as early as today ­ to select its next president.

With Rosselli's withdrawal, the only remaining candidate for president is Annelle Grajeda, was appointed president of the recently formed Local 721 by Stern.

"That such a vote is slated to occur and conclude electronically on Monday, less than 24 hours before we are scheduled to meet face-to-face in San Diego on Tuesday, calls into question the integrity of the entire process. Consequently, we choose not to participate in such flawed proceedings," Rosselli wrote to the state council. Rosselli's union, United Healthcare Workers, also will not take part in the vote.

Reached via telephone Rosselli would not comment on the leadership change, saying only, "The state council thing is an internal matter."

But he did talk about health care, which he also brought up in his letter.

He said via telephone that any health compromise must include a "definition of basic benefits people must receive at a price they can afford if they are to be subject to an individual mandate."

In what amounted to a resignation letter (even if unhappily), Rosselli wrote to Stern, "Your actions concerning the State Council have created a major distraction from maintaining the unified focus needed to achieve our objectives."

"Although the view may look different from Washington DC, here in California I believe we are close to achieving our goal of real health care reform as long as we have the courage to continue to stand up for our principles and advocate for the issues that are not successfully addressed in Governor Schwarzenegger's health care proposal," Rosselli wrote.

The state council declined to comment for this story. "We don't talk about internal union matters," said council spokeswoman Jeanine Meyer Rodriguez.

Read the full text of Rosselli's letter below:

December 2, 2007

Dear Andy,

For the past twenty years, we have been working to win real healthcare reform in California to cover the millions of our state's residents who are uninsured or underinsured. Today, that group numbers at least 6.7 million over the course of the year.

In 1994, our Local Union, along with other California SEIU Locals through our State Council, strongly supported Proposition 194, which would have created a single-payer system. In 2003-4, our Local Union, along with other California SEIU Locals through our State Council, supported SB 2, which was enacted by both houses of the California legislature and signed into law by then-Governor Gray Davis. SB 2 was repealed by a margin of less than one percent when corporate interests put it to a referendum in the form of Proposition 72.

And in the past year, UHW, other California SEIU Locals, our major healthcare employers Kaiser Permanente and Catholic Healthcare West, consumer groups and patient advocacy organizations, other progressive forces and the labor movement generally, have united to win real healthcare reform in California. Although the view may look different from Washington DC, here in California I believe we are close to achieving our goal of real healthcare reform as long as we have the courage to continue to stand up for our principles and advocate for the issues that are not successfully addressed in Governor Schwarzenegger's healthcare proposal.

Specifically, a healthcare reform plan that accomplishes our goals and that California voters will support requires:

* A definition of the basic benefits that people must receive at a price they can afford if they are to be subject to an individual mandate ‹ benefits that should include doctor's visits, preventive care, hospitalization and prescription drugs.

* Cost controls which include bulk purchasing of prescription drugs, a public insurer to compete with private insurance, preventive medicine and more information on cost and quality.

The polls show that Californians want real healthcare reform, but will reject compromises made for political expediency that sacrifice key principles like affordability and quality. I ask that you join the SEIU California State Council in its consistent support for the elements outlined above and its insistence that they be included in any final healthcare reform.

Needless to say, it is our opinion -- which we have learned is shared by many not just within SEIU in California, but outside as well -- that your decision to choose this moment to declare the abolition of the pre-existing State Council, the elimination of its officers and Executive Board, and the implementation of the new State Council, could not have been more poorly timed.

Two weeks ago, SEIU leaders in California were totally united around our goal, strategy and tactics to win real healthcare reform, and while I believe that we remain united, your actions concerning the State Council have created a major distraction from maintaining the unified focus needed to achieve our objectives.

In order to retain the focus on healthcare reform, I am writing to notify you and our colleagues in California that I will not accept any nomination to serve as President of the SEIU California State Council.

Although I am very proud of the State Council's accomplishments over the course of my presidency and appreciate the opportunity to bring our fight for healthcare reform to the brink of victory, I do not want any contest for this office to serve as a point of contention among SEIU Locals in California or to hinder in any way our joint effort to win real healthcare reform now.

This letter also serves as our notice to you and our California colleagues that UHW will not participate in the voting process.

The idea that organizations like SEIU Locals 6434 and 1877 will be able to fully participate while owing more than $1.5 million in back dues defies acceptable notions of fairness with regard to union democracy. Nor do the numbers attributed to each local coincide with recent reports from the State Council regarding full members and fee payers.

Similarly, your appointment to the State Council Executive Board of representatives from two "organizing" Locals that do not represent any members and three Locals that have not been affiliated with the State Council also is, in our opinion, a violation of basic tenets of union democracy.

And finally, that such a vote is slated to occur and conclude electronically on Monday, less than 24 hours before we are scheduled to meet face-to-face in San Diego on Tuesday, calls into question the integrity of the entire process. Consequently, we choose not to participate in such flawed proceedings.

In the next several weeks, our focus in California has to be on winning real healthcare reform. One fundamental component of our ability to achieve this goal is to ensure that our State Council has the necessary resources to complete this important work.

Accordingly, on Tuesday, when the State Council convenes, UHW will ask all SEIU Locals in California to support requiring all SEIU Local Unions in arrears in dues to our state organization to comply with their financial obligations. That will help ensure that we have the financial capacity to sustain the effort necessary to succeed.
In Unity,

Sal Rosselli
President
SEIU United Healthcare Workers West
Posted by Shane Goldmacher on December 3, 2007 11:37 AM

SEIU 6434 Pres Freeman fires back -- SEIU strife

www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/capitolalertlatest/009429.html
Capitol Alert - by The Sacramento Bee

Freeman fires back -- SEIU strife continues

The internal politicking of the State Council of the SEIU continues, with Tyrone Freeman, president of the one of the largest local affiliates in the state, firing off a sharply worded response letter to outgoing state council president Sal Rosselli.

The internal leadership battle within the powerful Service Employees International Union, which counts 600,000 members in California, has potential implications for the health care overhaul in California, as the union coalition's stance on health care is one ostensible reason for the leadership fight.

In his letter, Freeman, whose union was singled out for criticism in a letter from Rosselli sent to the state council on Sunday, argued for seeking "common ground" in crafting a health plan.

"What is being proposed is not perfect. No one is saying otherwise. As a labor union, we can and must continue to be visionary. But being visionary also means being able to recognize an opportunity to pass a sweeping reform that pragmatically restructures our health care system to make quality care available and affordable," Freeman wrote. (The full letter is posted at the bottom of this post)

Freeman also took "great exception to our efforts being portrayed as some kind of insurgency or takeover among SEIU Locals," in his letter, which was addressed to national SEIU president Andy Stern.

Rosselli, who withdrew his name as a candidate for SEIU state council president on Sunday, said in his letter that the election to replace him "defies acceptable notions of fairness."

Rosselli, who represents the United Healthcare Workers, specifically cited Freeman's union, the United Long-Term Healthcare Workers Union Local 6434, for being in arrears of payments to the state council.

"The idea that organizations like SEIU Locals 6434 and 1877 will be able to fully participate (in the election) while owing more than $1.5 million in back dues defies acceptable notions of fairness with regard to union democracy," Rosselli wrote.

Freeman and Rosselli's local affiliates are among the largest SEIU units in the state, each with more than 100,000 members of the 600,000 workers represented by the SEIU state council.

Allies of Rosselli have characterized the leadership fight as the workings of Stern, the national SEIU president. But in Friday's Los Angeles Times, Freeman portrayed the leadership struggle as a battle between himself and Rosselli.

>From the LAT:

Asked about the move to change leadership, Freeman said Rosselli had often acted based on "his ideological belief about how things ought to happen with the de facto inclusion of other leaders."

He disputed assertions of Rosselli's allies that Stern was masterminding the leadership change. "It would be more of a story of Tyrone Freeman and Sal Rosselli," Freeman said. "I have a very big local that is bigger than his. We've got impact, and we just believe things ought to be done differently."

Following Rosselli's withdrawal on Monday, Local 721 president Annelle Grajeda, who was appointed to her post by Stern, was the only declared candidate for president of the state council.

In Freeman's letter, sent Monday, he questioned Rosselli's tact as leader on health care negotiations in the state.

"SEIU International has rightly recognized that old methods and tactics don't work‹that we are facing a new day that requires, not compromise, but a different type of dialogue, where approaches are no longer strictly adversarial, but, in contrast, seek to find common ground. This isn't acquiescence, it's pragmatism, and it is the road to opening doors, where for years they have been closed," Freeman wrote.

He continued, "Those who typically stand at ideological odds have come together to hash out a proposal that is a big step toward making inroads in a decades-long struggle to provide healthcare to those who go without. While it may not mirror the panacea we may have put forth in our internal meetings, it represents important progress toward providing coverage for the six million Californians who have none."

We've posted the full text of Freeman's letter below. See Rosselli's letter here:

December 3, 2007

Dear Andy,

It is most disheartening to see one of the most significant issues of our time characterized as an internal political squabble, where it is implied that UHW alone has the "courage to continue to stand up for our principles." Nothing could be farther from the truth. The facts are this: SEIU International has set a progressive and innovative course to lift up and protect the working people of this country. SEIU International has rightly recognized that old methods and tactics don't work‹that we are facing a new day that requires, not compromise, but a different type of dialogue, where approaches are no longer strictly adversarial, but, in contrast, seek to find common ground. This isn't acquiescence, it's pragmatism, and it is the road to opening doors, where for years they have been closed.

Central to SEIU's mission is the provision of healthcare for all---the front-burner issue facing the state of California and the nation. California is at the precipice of enacting far-reaching, meaningful healthcare reform. Those who typically stand at ideological odds have come together to hash out a proposal that is a big step toward making inroads in a decades-long struggle to provide healthcare to those who go without. While it may not mirror the panacea we may have put forth in our internal meetings, it represents important progress toward providing coverage for the six million Californians who have none.

At our core, we represent working people.

* Healthcare reform, as it realistically could be passed this year, recognizes that employers must play a fundamental role in paying for coverage.

* Healthcare reform, as it realistically could be passed this year, expands public
programs and provides subsidies to make coverage affordable for working people.

* Healthcare reform, as it realistically could be passed this year, will set a
benchmark, like a minimum wage, where currently there is none.

What is being proposed is not perfect. No one is saying otherwise. As a labor union, we can and must continue to be visionary. But being visionary also means being able to recognize an opportunity to pass a sweeping reform that pragmatically restructures our health care system to make quality care available and affordable.

I make this statement as a Local leader who represents 150,000 low-income long-term care workers in California. My view of this issue is clear, and it stretches from northern California to southern California, from the largest urban centers to the most rural. Healthcare reform is what our members want and need, and we must do what we can to make it a reality. I take great exception to our efforts being portrayed as some kind of insurgency or takeover among SEIU Locals. California State Council has been without a leader since October 15, 2007. This is not a new development; it is part of a program agreed upon as part of our reorganization. We are now preparing to fulfill our democratically-agreed upon process to select new leadership that will determine the direction of our State Council.

SEIU's dedication to its members and commitment to universal healthcare is clearly evidenced by our track record. The majority of California leaders stand ready to work energetically toward the enactment of realistic and significant healthcare reform that will surely make a great difference to our members and their families.

In Unity,

Tyrone Freeman
President
United Long-Term Care Workers' Union
SEIU Local 6434
Posted by Shane Goldmacher on December 4, 2007

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