SEIU-NUHW conflict moves to Sacramento

By Duane Campbell

After an apparent  narrow defeat in Fresno, the battle between SEIU led by Andy Stern and former SEIU members in the National Union of Health Care Workers, led by Sal Rosselli, moves to Sacramento and the Bay Area.

In the past twelve weeks over 50,000 workers in California healthcare facilities have petitioned to leave SEIU and to join the newly formed NUHW.

NUHW activists are in a good position to win these elections in Sacramento and the Bay Area since they have been the union activists on the ground serving and organizing these workers for years.

In June, advocacy by former SEIU members now active in NUHW convinced Sacramento and San Francisco Counties  to protect the salaries of Home Care Workers during intense budget cuts to programs caused by the current recession.

Of the Sacramento effort, Bill Camp, Executive Secretary of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, said,

“The leaders of NUHW were so crucial in helping homecare providers win their union in the first place. And today they are helping homecare workers win again, and protect their wages and their jobs even in a time of economic turmoil. NUHW and Sacramento County are delivering economic security for providers in Sacramento and hope for providers across the state.”

Cards calling for an election between NUHW and SEIU will be collected in August and September with an election expected for late September.  NUHW will be organizing on its own turf while the SEIU election campaigns depend upon importing outside campaign workers.

In-home support, workers provide day care and assistance to over 19,000 individuals in Sacramento County. Workers receive $10.40 per hour plus benefits for this work. Funding for the program comes from a combination of federal, state and local sources. Without in-home support services, many of these chronically ill and disabled individuals would move to nursing homes or hospitals where costs of care are much higher. There would be a severe shortage of beds for these patients if they moved from in-home care.

California and 41 other states are facing severe budget shortages created by the collapse of the U.S. economy caused by the greed of bankers, financiers, and those in the government who enabled these corporate robber barons.

The Obama Administration’s responses to the  economic crisis are fundamentally supportive of the banking and finance industry.  For example, they have not proposed a re-introduction of the Glass-Steagal act that protected working people from such financial manipulation from 1933 until 1999.

As a consequence of the crisis, unemployment will continue to grow and the states will continue to have budget crises for at least the next two years.  States are responding by cutting services–health care, police protection, schooling  and support services for the disabled.  California has a $24 billion dollar deficit.

An additional stimulus is required to fund state and local services; however, so much money was spent on bailing out the banks and the insurance companies that a new stimulus proposal does not appear to have sufficient political support to pass Congress.

Unions battling each other, rather than working to protect workers’ wages and benefits, weakens the labor movement and hands control of budgets to the reactionaries and the Republicans.

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7 Responses

  1. It ‘s a perfect writing. Thank you.

  2. Whatever SEIU’s many faults may be, it has done a better job of protecting the wages of home care workers than NUHW has by filing a lawsuit in federal court which resulted in an injunction preventing the state from cutting the wages of these workers in the first place. The injunction thereby prevents EVERY California county–including Sacramento–from passing the cuts on through to the workers. It’s great if Sacramento County was really going to voluntarily refrain from wage cuts, but for “protection” that workers can count on, nothing beats an injunction.

    The court order preventing the cuts was issued last Friday, June 26, 2009, 4 days before the date of Campbell’s post. Sheesh, if you’re going to pontificate, try to keep up with the facts on the ground.

  3. Duane says that “the collapse of the U.S. economy” was “caused by the greed of bankers, financiers, and those in the government who enabled these corporate robber barons.”

    This strikes me as more of a populist than socialist understanding of the crisis. The crisis is a crisis OF CAPITALISM — it isn’t just a few greedy individuals who are to blame. Michael Perelman is right: speculative excesses are a part of capitalism’s DNA. See: http://radicalnotes.com/index2.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=73&pop=1&page=0&Itemid=1

  4. Well. I wasn’t trying to be the most socialist on the bloc.
    I am fine with a left-populist position that is understandable in the mainstream.
    I did not say that it was just the greedy individuals. Greed is inherent.
    So, are you arguing that it was not caused by the greed of bankers, financiers, and those in the government who enabled them?

  5. People who consider themselves socialists ought to be giving socialist analyses of capitalist crises, no? Your position seems to be that if it wasn’t for a few greedy individuals, there would be no Great Recession. I disagree.

    Hugo Radice: “In the end, it is the perception that these profits will be insufficient to cover the inflated expectations of investors that drives the panic selling. It appears as though the crisis originates in the ‘financial’ economy and then spreads to the ‘real’ economy; the reality is that the two remain always intimately connected, and it is in the ‘real’ economy that the crisis has both its origins and its resolution. In a system guided by private profit rather than social need, a serious crisis is always a crisis of profitability, and profits originate in the exploitation of productive labour.” (http://www.redpepper.org.uk/What-kind-of-crisis)

  6. NO, my position is not that for a few greedy individuals, the capitalist class is by nature greedy, and they are in charge, and they created the crisis.
    We disagree. That is normal. We disagreed on the Obama campaign, on the role of anti racism and self determination on the left, and now on this.
    Michael Harrington argues well in Socialism: Past and Future, that there are many socialisms. I agree.
    One of the more inane activities of the 70’s and 80’s was people arguing about who was- and who was not a socialist, or socialist enough.
    Clearly this exchange will not change our positions, so I decline to participate further on this posting in this media.

  7. I don’t recall us ever saying word one to each other about “anti-racism” or “self-determination.” But whatever.

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