Wednesday, January 30, 2013

American University Food Service Workers Get a Fair Contract

I was elated to see that the hard working employees at my university have reached a fair contract.  They can now take culinary classes and get paid for doing so, and prepare meals from scratch.  This means that there will be much better food coming out of TDR, and that is a good thing.

You can read the whole story from Labor Notes here:

In Solidarity,


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

NUHW-CNA: A Real Match Made In Heaven

Some time ago, I wrote about the proposed affiliation between the International Association of Machinists(IAM) and the National Union of HealthCare Workers(NUHW).  While that proposed partnership never came to fruition, NUHW and the California Nurses Association(CNA) recently made their affiliation public.

I always held the opinion that CNA was a much better fit for an affiliation with NUHW than the Machinists, for various reasons.  The most obvious is that CNA is a healthcare union that would help bridge the gap between organizing professional and non-professional employees.  The partnership with NUHW sort of fills the doughnut hole, if you will. Secondly, as much as IAM would have liked to assist NUHW in the upcoming Kaiser election re-runs, I don't believe they would have brought as much to the table as CNA does.

For NUHW, this partnership brings two very big benefits:

1. By affiliating with an AFL-CIO member union, NUHW is protected by Article 20 of the AFL-CIO constitution.  Article 20 protects member organizations from being raided by other AFL-CIO affiliated unions.  While this won't help to keep SEIU from trying to raid their chapters, it is one less thing to worry about.  On a side note, I believe this clause makes the split between SEIU and the AFL-CIO almost permanent.

2. This partnership will bring much needed resources to NUHW in their ongoing struggle against SEIU.  They will certainly need CNA's organizing and financial assistance if they hope to have a chance to be victorious in the Kaiser fight.

I believe that this is a pivotal moment in the history of the American labor movement.  The Kaiser election will help to shape the direction of the labor movement for years to come.  Only time will tell which way it will go.

In Solidarity,


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Silencing The Truth - SEIU Style

Recently, the organization that I formerly worked with was the target of an information campaign.  Specifically, incriminating evidence of the waste of members' dues money, the extravagant lifestyle of the union president, among other things, was put on display in the wonderful world of facebook.

The response from SEIU/1199 WV/KY/OH was heated and desperate.  They moved quickly to have the account shut down, they had their Executive Vice-President create a fake profile to attack the poster who was releasing the aforementioned information. 

What was very interesting to me as I read the posts and counter-posts, was the fact that no one from the Pro-SEIU point of view, not even the Executive  Vice-President offered any statements or proof to show that anything the person posted was false or exaggerated.  Instead, they attacked the poster, using inflammatory language insinuating that the person must be a disgruntled former SEIU employee with a grudge.  Now admittedly, there is a long line of former employees who have been treated in unsavory ways by this organization.  In full disclosure, I am myself a former employee with my own feelings about SEIU.

That being said, nothing that this person posted was untrue, or exaggerated.  I would go so far as to say that the person probably could have posted things that were both true, and far worse than what they did.  Since SEIU has seen fit to have their account shut down, I will post a list of the excesses pointed out by this unknown person.

If SEIU had not successfully blocked this account, I would not be posting this.  At the end of this list, I will post a link to the LM-2 statement, which I encourage anyone who is a member of SEIU/1199 WV/KY/OH to read for themselves and make their own judgement.

1. SEIU/1199 WV/KY/OH pays for a $2000 a month apartment that is only used by Becky Williams, Kathy McCormick, and I think Mary Jo Ivans and Lisa Hetrick.  There is also a second apartment rented by the organization.  The only issue I have with this is that I believe the president of the union should be willing to relocate to Columbus if they require organizers to relocate.

2.  The union spent over $800,000 on office furniture.  This includes over $5,000 on Becky Williams' desk alone.

3.  The union pays Becky Williams a salary of $122,000.  This is common knowledge, but most members are unaware that she is probably collecting a salary from the International just for sitting on the board.  This is known as "double dipping" in the labor community.

4. Becky Williams and Kathy McCormick took a trip to Europe which was paid for by the Local.  Supposedly, they were meeting with a union official, but according to SEIU's official directory, there are no SEIU Locals outside of the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.  Who knows, maybe they are looking to expand WV/KY/OH to France or Italy.  In all fairness, there might have been a legitimate reason for the trip.  I would bet that most members will feel that given their generous salaries, they should have paid for their own trips.

5.  The Local spent $60,000 on a staff party.  This can be found in LM-2 statements.

6.  The Local gave bonus ranging from $100 - $600 to each staff member.  I actually don't have an issue with this, as most of the staff, especially the organizers, are treated poorly.  If they had a choice, they'd probably give the bonus back in exchange for not working 70 hours a week.

There is so much more here.  To view the LM-2 statements, which is a report that every union is required to send to the Department of Labor every year, click here and enter report number 509-111 in the file number box.  This report will give you an itemized report on every penny spent.  There's quite a few eye openers in there.
The most striking thing about this recent ordeal was not that SEIU/1199 was upset.  This is understandable.  What was very telling, to me at least was that they didn't dispute anything the person posted.  They were simply pissed that someone had told the truth, and it wasn't pretty.

One last number to think about: in 2011, the union spent $4,260,424 on Political Activities and Lobbying, but only $3,037,373 on Representational Duties.  This means they spent more on Politics than they did on actual representation of members.  I'm not saying political action isn't important, but is it more important than actual representation of members?  You be the judge.

I'll return to normal, non-SEIU posting in a few weeks when I am up and running with regular internet access again.

In Solidarity,