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

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

Massachusetts Home Care Workers Win Battle for $15

Local 1199 SEIU Massachusetts

Mass Health aides victory

Tears of joy streaked the faces of cheering home care workers assembled in their Dorchester union hall on Thursday afternoon as a decades-long struggle for recognition and a living wage culminated in a historic moment of celebration.

According to an agreement reached in contract negotiations between the 35,000 home care workers of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the administration of recently elected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R), Massachusetts Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) are poised to become the first in the nation to achieve a statewide $15 per hour starting wage.

Upon reaching the agreement, workers called off the fifteen-hour picket they had planned to begin at the Massachusetts State House on the morning of Tuesday, June 30th. Instead, caregivers are planning a celebration of this milestone and nation-leading achievement of a $15 standard at 4:00 p.m. on the State House steps the afternoon of June 30th.

“This victory, winning $15 per hour, it means we are no longer invisible,” said Kindalay Cummings-Akers, a PCA from Springfield, MA. Cummings-Akers cares for a local senior and became a union activist at the onset of the campaign. She was also a member of the statewide PCA negotiating team that reached the agreement with the Baker administration. “This is a huge step forward not just for home care workers, but also toward ensuring the safety, dignity, and independence of seniors and people with disabilities,” she added. “We are a movement of home care workers united by the idea that dignity for caregivers and the people in our care is possible. Today, we showed the world that it is possible.”

“Massachusetts home care workers are helping to lead the Fight for $15 – and winning,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner. “We applaud Governor Baker for helping to forge this pathway to dignity for PCAs and the tens of thousands of Massachusetts seniors and people with disabilities who rely on quality home care services to remain in the community or in the workforce. As the senior population grows, the demand for home care services is increasing. By helping to ensure a living wage for these vital caregivers, Governor Baker is taking a critical step with us toward reducing workforce turnover and ensuring that Massachusetts families can access the quality home care they need for their loved ones.”

“It is a moral imperative that all homecare and healthcare workers receive $15 per hour, and Massachusetts is now a leader in this effort,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. “Extreme income inequality is a threat to our economy, our bedrock American values and our very democracy. With a living wage, we can ensure more compassionate care for homecare clients, and better lives for homecare workers and their families. We applaud this bold step by Governor Baker towards a better future for our communities in Massachusetts and our country overall.”
Continue reading

Seeds of a New Labor Movement ?

Harold Meyerson.

Mother Jones, American labor activist.

Mother Jones, American labor activist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sit down and read. Prepare yourself for the coming battles.  Mother Jones.


DSA Honorary Chair Harold Meyerson has written the following important long form piece on the US. Labor Movement for the American Prospect. This piece merits discussion.


“The path to collective bargaining has been shut down in the United States,” says Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and head of the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Committee. Where Rolf differs from most of his colleagues is in his belief that collective bargaining—at least, as the nation has known it for the past 80 years—is not coming back. In a paper he distributed to his colleagues in 2012 and in commentaries he wrote for several magazines (including this one), he argued that unions should acknowledge their impending demise—at least in the form that dates to the Wagner Act—and focus their energies and resources on incubating new institutions that can better address workers’ concerns. “The once powerful industrial labor unions that built the mid-century American middle class are in a deep crisis and are no longer able to protect the interests of American workers with the scale and power necessary to reverse contemporary economic trends,” he wrote in his paper. “The strategy and tactics that we’ve pursued since the 1947 Taft-Hartley Amendments [which narrowed the ground rules under which unions may operate] are out of date and have demonstrably failed to produce lasting economic power for workers. We must look to the future and invest our resources in new organizational models that respond to our contemporary economy and the needs of today’s workers.”

This October, with funding from his local, from the national SEIU, and from several liberal foundations, Rolf will unveil The Workers Lab, housed at the Roosevelt Institute in New York. The center will study and, in time, invest in organizations that, in Rolf’s words, “have the potential to build economic power for workers, at scale, and to sustain themselves financially.” Whatever those organizations may be, they won’t be unions—at least, not unions as they currently exist… Continue reading


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