SEIU Wages War on Progressives

Service Employees International Union

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by Randy Shaw

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) held a boisterous picket line in San Francisco last night, but their chants targeted a surprising adversary: labor leaders and their political allies. While California Democratic Party Chair John Burton (labor’s greatest California ally), State Senator Mark Leno and leaders of UNITE HERE, the Sailors, Plumbers, Building Trades, and Police and Fire unions, were inside the Plumbers Union Hall honoring the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), SEIU was outside denouncing NUHW – and by implication its supporters – as corrupt. Last week, SEIU informed Burton that it would end its $1 million annual donation to the state Party unless he withdrew his support for NUHW, which he refused to do.

SEIU’s threat to labor hero Burton, and its reported statement to the United Teachers of Los Angeles (sponsor of tonight’s NUHW fundraiser) that it would seek to organize charter school teachers in retaliation for UTLA’s pro-NUHW stance, reflects a union increasingly at odds with the labor movement. In July, 25 international union leaders condemned SEIU’s raids on UNITE HERE, and new AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has since vowed to defend UNITE HERE against SEIU attacks. SEIU is now isolated, viewing fellow unions and pro-labor politicians as adversaries, and its scorched earth campaign against its former California health care leadership is coming at a steepening internal and political cost.

On a day when SEIU President Andy Stern joined hundreds of taxpayers protesting outside Goldman Sachs’ DC headquarters, the union he heads engaged in a vigorous street protest in San Francisco against labor leaders, political allies, and other supporters of the labor movement. SEIU’s protest further estranged it from a labor movement that Stern once aspired to lead, and culminates a year when its twin battles against NUHW and UNITE HERE have left the once inspiring union with more critics than friends in labor.

SEIU Against the World

When 2009 began, SEIU was generally recognized as the nation’s most powerful union, and Andy Stern was likely the best-known and most politically prominent U.S. labor leader. Barack Obama’s election appeared to usher in a new era of labor union growth, with SEIU and its Change to Win Labor Federation poised for tremendous gains.

But SEIU chose a different course. A week after Obama’s inauguration it put its third largest local, SEIU-UHW, in trusteeship, spawning a year long fight with its former leadership, who now operate under NUHW.

By April, SEIU had intensified raids against UNITE HERE, creating a bitter war with its once closest union ally. SEIU failed to force UNITE HERE to surrender and affiliate with SEIU, and its raids triggered angry denunciations from fellow labor leaders and the effective demise of Change to Win.

From: Beyond the Chron
Read the entire piece at http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=7562#more

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One Response

  1. […] SEIU’s recent repugnant misbehavior at the Los Angeles fundraising event for the NUHW. Read Randy Shaw’s article in this blog, and for an excellent first-person account read Paul Krehbiel’s blog entry for Labor Notes. […]

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