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Thursday, April 10, 2008

As most of you probably know, SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, is supporting Barack Obama in the presidential campaign. But what you may not know is that SEIU head Andy Stern is putting the interests of his union members behind his drive for political power.

“An overly zealous focus on growth — growth at any cost, apparently — has eclipsed S.E.I.U.’s commitment to its members,” Mr. Rosselli wrote in a letter to Mr. Stern. Mr. Rosselli complained that Mr. Stern had had top officials negotiate deals with national health care corporations, depriving rank-and-file workers of adequate say in their contracts. In December, Mr. Rosselli quit as president of the union’s 600,000-member state council in California after he grew convinced that Mr. Stern wanted to push him out.

More discussion here from a left-leaning source:

"California nursing homes are sweatshops, [and] a terrible place to live," said Sal Rosselli, president of California's largest healthcare workers' union local, Oakland-based United Healthcare Workers–West, during an online interview last week with the magazine Labor Notes.

While Rosselli's statement might sound like ordinary pre-strike cant, his words are actually much more radical than that.

Rosselli's criticisms are directed at America's most famous labor leader, Andy Stern, the celebrity president of the two-million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU). According to Rosselli, Stern's expansion of the union has cost workers the ability to complain or fight to improve conditions.

Stern also held up a buyout of a nursing home chain in an effort to unionize the workers. This delay cost the State of West Virginia's public employees pension plan over $1 million per day:

Manor Care says the delay is costing investors -- including West Virginia's pension fund -- more than $1 million a day.

So what's wrong with using a little political clout in order to unionize? Well, for starters, it appears that the workers don't want the union:

What is really going on here is that the SEIU has been able to persuade only about 1,000 of the HCA Manor Care's 60,000 employees to pay union dues.

Note in particular that on SEIU's home page, at the very top is an explicit endorsement of Barack Obama. As you probably remember, SEIU's support for Obama was a key in helping him win the Nevada caucuses (although he lost the overall vote, because of weird delegate rules giving rural districts more clout, Obama ended up with more delegates than Hillary).

Note also the accusations of stalking here:

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Association today condemned the Service Employees International Union for targeting CNA/NNOC leaders and members with threats and intimidation, stalking them at home and in patient care units at hospitals.

In a statement today, CNA/NNOC -- the nation's largest RN union -- demanded SEIU International President Andrew Stern "immediately renounce the actions of SEIU staff and cease and desist these despicable attacks against anyone who speaks out against his pro-corporate agenda."

"SEIU's behavior, sending swarms of staff to threaten women in their homes, is especially disgraceful, and another illustration of their contempt for a predominantly female profession that they treat as chattel in so much of their activity, including trying to force RNs into his union," said CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro.

And this specific incident sounds like something out of "On the Waterfront":

"I was home alone. Four people were staring at me through the window. When they saw me they started screaming and trying to scare me. I called the police and they ran off," said Keenan.

"I am a leader of CNA/NNOC. I am proud of my organization, and I will always stand by it in our common goal of fighting for my patients and my colleagues. I will not be intimidated by bullies hired by (SEIU President) Andy Stern."

These are the kind of people supporting Barack Obama's campaign.

Further discussion of the issue can be found here and here.

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