Monday, July 4, 2011


Recently, my fellow union staff made history by ratifying the first staff union contract in the history of SEIU/District 1199.  While the bargaining unit was voluntarily recognized by the leadership of the union, it still took some effort to negotiate the contract, and to get a ratification vote from a bargaining unit that is spread out over three states. 

SEIU/District 1199 WV/KY/OH has a reputation for being one of the most, if not the most, democratic, member-driven SEIU Local.  This achievement should go a long way in cementing that reputation.  There had been three prior attempts to organize the staff, but for a variety of reasons were unsuccessful. 

The vote to ratify the negotiated contract was approved overwhelmingly by the bargaining unit, which includes all full time and regular part time salaried administrative organizers, lead administrative organizers, member communications liaisons, political liaisons, member relations liaisons, field organizers, field researchers, lead field researchers, outreach organizers, and member strength organizers.

While this is a very positive step for the staff and the union, there are some major challenges that present themselves:

Due to the small bargaining unit size, and lack of affiliation with a larger labor organization, the staff union may have a difficult time staying financially stable.  For instance, arbitration can be very costly, and a bargaining unit of forty employees may end up paying astronomical dues in order to cover those costs.  There also is the issue of keeping up with the administrative side of things.  Because there is no affiliation with another labor organization, there are no paid staff to spend time handling issues that may arise.  While the bargaining unit is made up of union staff, their already hectic schedules might make it difficult to keep up with staff union issues.

In Solidarity,


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