Jobs, Justice and Climate Rally and March to Defend New England’s Future

by Paul Garver

jobsjusticeclimate

By 12th December the Paris climate talks will have ended.  Political leaders will have made promises to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions. Whether these promises are kept or not kept over the coming decades depends upon us.

We know what we need: real climate solutions that create secure union jobs and strengthen community power and resiliency.

To get there, we must build an unstoppable grassroots movement that unites workers and  labor unions with immigrant rights. racial justice and climate justice movements.

Representatives of these movements are calling for a rally and march in Boston on 12th December to Defend New England’s Future. Organizers include 350 Mass for a Better Future and Jobs with Justice.  Endorsers include labor unions [Vermont State AFL-CIO, SEIU Locals 1199 and 509, Mass. Nurses Association/National Nurses United, Boston Musicians, Local 3844 American Postal Workers Union], worker centers from Vermont, Southern Maine and New Bedford, and numerous community and social rights groups like City Life/Vida Urbana, the Migrant Center and Interfaith Workers Justice.

They will join with a broad network of climate justice and environmental groups including numerous 350 MA nodes, campus divestment groups, Mass Peace Action and the Sierra Club in rallying in Boston Common and in front of the Mass. State House.   The march will also take support for organizing low wage workers at McDonald’s and Primark.  Flyers are being prepared in Spanish and Portuguese as well as English to help reach out to immigrant communities.

Although social movements have been gathering momentum and winning specific legislative victories in Massachusetts and other New England states in the years since the Occupy movement, they have been somewhat isolated into separate “silos.”  Organizers of the 12th December Rally and March hope to help spark a more inclusive and unified grassroots’ movement that reaches broader mass constituencies beyond their organizational leaders.

For some background on how the 12th December actions being organized throughout the world relate to the Paris talks, see http://www.religioussocialism.org/global_climate_justice_a_new_great_awakening.

SEIU Mourns Members Killed in San Bernardino

by Paul Garver

Ten of the fourteen killed and many of those wounded in the shootings in San Bernardino were County environmental health specialists who were members of SEIU Local 721, which represents public-sector workers in southern California.

The local’s president, Bob Schoonover, noted that its members regularly worked at the Inland Regional Center, the health care facility where the massacre took place. The state facility serves people with developmental disabilities, offering work programs and social services. Employees of the county environmental health department were gathered there for a semi-annual meeting when Farook and Malik opened fire.

The union hosted a candlelight vigil with other labor groups on Monday to mourn the victims.

Mary Kay Henry, the international president of SEIU, said that she’d spoken with union leaders from around the country on Friday and heard “expressions of grief and outpourings of support.”

“The SEIU family suffered a profound and terrible loss Wednesday in San Bernardino,” Henry said. “Our hearts are broken from this tragedy. The victims taken from us too soon leave behind a legacy of lives dedicated to service and a deep commitment to upholding public health.”

Henry added, “We will unite to demand that our nation does everything possible to ensure that no more families have to feel this pain, sadness and loss ever again.”

Refusing to join in anti-Muslim hysteria, SEIU encouraged its members instead to sign a petition organized by health care professionals to demand that Congress allow the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate gun violence. To sign the petition go to http://act.drsforamerica.org/sign/end-cdc-ban/#.VjpXSrerQdV.

Labor for Bernie: Respect Our Dissent

by Labor for Bernie 2016

After SEIU’s endorsement of Clinton…
Sanders’ supporters call on leaders to recognize and respect differences of opinion within the union

A significant number of SEIU local union leaders, stewards and activists waged a valiant campaign to stop an early endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president by the union’s International Executive Board (IEB).

Members created a Facebook page, initiated a petition campaign, spoke out at union meetings and with the press, wrote letters and made calls to top union officers.

SEIU Local 560 in New Hampshire endorsed Bernie Sanders, while SEIU’s largest affiliate, 1199 (United Health Care East), Local 503 (Oregon public employees) and Local 509 (Massachusetts social service workers) all passed resolutions calling for no endorsement.

However, despite our best efforts, SEIU endorsed Clinton on Nov. 17, 2015.  The IEB undoubtedly believed it was in the best interests of the membership.  Days later, in a major repudiation of the IEB’s Clinton endorsement, SEIU Local 1984 in New Hampshire voted to endorse Sanders after thorough membership engagement, debate and discussion.

SEIU’s decision to endorse Clinton is short-sighted and unprincipled. It is based on a failed strategy of engaging in purely “transactional” politics with corporate liberals.  That’s why members who support Bernie Sanders are so understandably frustrated.  Many feel that SEIU’s endorsement process was insufficiently responsive to rank-and-file sentiment.  Some are threatening to stop their voluntary contributions to SEIU political action funds.

While many of us strongly disagree with the decision, we need to stay united and continue the fight for our shared objectives: the Fight for $15, immigration reform, reinstating Glass–Steagall and winning campaign finance reform. Continue reading

SEIU Endorses Hillary Clinton

SEIU Exec Committee Endorses Hillary Clinton

Français : Logo SEIU

Français : Logo SEIU (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hillary Clinton scored another major union endorsement, this one from SEIU, on Tuesday. The union endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, and is one of the major backers of the Fight for 15. So is it a contradiction to endorse a candidate who doesn’t support a $15 federal minimum wage? The union’s president says no: “We don’t see it as a contradiction,” Ms. Henry said about the union’s support for a candidate who is not supportive of raising the overall wage to $15, adding that Mrs. Clinton had encouraged her to keep up the pressure to push the wage to that level. “She said to me, ‘Listen, S.E.I.U. and Fight for $15 should continue to push the whole nation, we all need to get to $15.’”
You can see the SEIU’s endorsement video at the bottom of this post.

From: Labor at Daily Kos

A few big national unions remain uncommitted to a presidential candidate – the Teamsters, UNITE Here, and UFCW most notably. But the unions that have endorsed Clinton represent about 9.5 million union members, or nearly two-thirds of the U.S.’s 14.6 million union workers. It’s not too early to conclude that Sanders, endorsed only by National Nurses United and the American Postal Workers Union, has lost his institutional base–organized labor–to the Democratic establishment. He’s also lost another institution: All but a handful of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate have endorsed Clinton.

 

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

by Paul Garver


Dave Regan, current president of the SEIU local United Healthcare Workers’ West (UHW-W), is bitterly complaining about a decision by national SEIU to remove 70,000 home care workers from his 150,000 member local and transfer them to a newly chartered SEIU local in California.

In a missive written sometime after the May 21 decision, as reported in the San Francisco Business Times, Regan charged that SEIU’s decision:

“marks the first time in my 25 years in SEIU the union has knowingly, intentionally, and willfully taken a major action that is contrary to the basic interests of its membership” and called the decision “a massive betrayal of our stated principles and values.”

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry justified the decision to charter the new SEIU Local 2015 that would include 280,000 California home health care workers, including 200,000 transferred from UHW-W and other SEIU locals in California, as uniting all long-term care members in California into one strong union with the clear goal of winning $15 an hour and a union for everyone in the state who provides care and support to seniors and people with disabilities.”

According to Regan, “This decision is malicious and undertaken with the full knowledge that the interests of California healthcare workers are being sacrificed to the political needs of Mary Kay Henry.  We are ashamed and embarrassed for our Union.”

A clear clash of principles?  David vs. Goliath?  Local union democracy vs. bureaucratic centralism?
Continue reading

Sanders Supporters in SEIU Urge Union not to Endorse Clinton

by Annie Kami

SEIU No Early Endorsement1

Driven by fears that the powerful SEIU labor union is close to announcing an endorsement of Hillary Clinton, a contingent of Bernie Sanders supporters within the union is petitioning the organization’s international executive board to hold off on endorsing a candidate.

With SEIU’s executive committee set to meet in mid-September, a growing number of hard-core Sanders supporters have become more vocal about urging union brass to withhold a Democratic primary endorsement at this stage in the race. Close to 300 SEIU leaders, members, retirees and staff have signed the petition urging the union to hold off.

“[Sanders’] campaign is drawing thousands into a movement around the very issues we support in our day-to-day organizing,” the petition reads. “To make an early endorsement of Hillary Clinton would put our union in direct opposition to this growing movement … [and] working against Sanders in the primaries will only alienate and confuse many SEIU members who are actively engaged in various movements, including the Fight for $15, immigration and higher education reform, Black Lives Matter, and many more progressive causes.”

Some SEIU members are publicly affiliated with a volunteer group called Labor for Bernie and worry that the union’s endorsement for Clinton would hamper their activities.
“I’m sure that members and local staffers like myself are not going to be dissuaded from our enthusiasm for Sanders,” said Rand Wilson, communications director for SEIU local 888 in Boston, who volunteers for Labor for Bernie. “The union’s support for another candidate will definitely have an impact on the kinds of roles that we can play at the grass-roots level.” The SEIU’s Sanders supporters say they back the Vermont senator because he has been a champion for their cause for his entire career.

An SEIU spokeswoman said the union has no timetable for an endorsement and is still in the process of engaging and polling its members on whom they support in the presidential race, and what issues they care about.

Top SEIU officials are also keenly aware of the revolt among rank-and-file teachers who publicly called on the American Federation of Teachers to withdraw its endorsement of Clinton last July, claiming there had been little internal discussion with teachers before the union backed Clinton. At one large local SEIU affiliate, staff were told to quell dissent from Sanders’ supporters, a labor source said.

With 2 million health care workers, public service workers and property services workers, including food service workers, SEIU represents powerful political muscle and is one of the biggest labor players in the race. The union has been leading the “Fight for 15,” to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

In the 2008 Democratic primary race, there was also disagreement at the local levels on which candidate to endorse. SEIU allowed local unions to endorse on a state-by-state basis in the fall of 2007. In February 2008, the executive board endorsed Barack Obama.

This time around, Clinton has been actively courting the union, hoping for its full backing. Last June, she called in to a conference of fast-food workers in Chicago, and appeared to lend some support to their push for a $15 minimum wage without officially endorsing the campaign. “We have to stand firmly together and united on behalf of your right to organize, your right to bargain collectively, your right to fighting together for the higher wages that reflect the value of your work,” she said on the conference call. “For me, this is as important as anything else that I’m going to talk about in my campaign for president.”

At a campaign stop in Los Angeles last month, she met with a small group of home health care workers and told them she supported improving their working conditions and boosting their wages.

An SEIU spokeswoman said the union’s core 2016 platform includes the fight to raise wages and a path to citizenship for immigrant families and that the endorsement process is fluid, with no dates set in stone.

For now, the union is taking its time in polling all of its members: The union has hosted national telephone town halls, in which over 50,000 members participated, and conducted national member polls as well, officials said.

Some SEIU officials have warned that the Sanders faction is only a vocal minority among union members. Internal polls show Clinton coming out on top, SEIU officials told POLITICO — 75 percent of members felt favorable about her, when compared with other Democratic candidates.

Reposted from POLITICO

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-seiu-unions-213221

So Close to $15/hour for New York Fast Food Workers!

fight for 15

Fight for $15

Governor Cuomo’s wage board recommended that all New York fast-food workers deserve $15 an hour. Now, his administration could make it happen and raise the wage for 180,000 New York workers.

The governor needs to hear from you about why YOU believe fast-food workers deserve $15 an hour.

To send him a message, go to

http://fightfor15.org/s-petition/nys-wage-board-comment-petition/

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