SEIU v. SEIU
The war between the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Service Employees Union International and its huge rebel local, called the United Healthcare Workers-West, continues to heat up. Last week SEIU's international executive board approved the absorption of the 150,000-strong UHW into a 240,000-member mega-unit that would also include L.A.'s Local 6434 and the Bay Area's Local 521. UHW responded immediately by announcing it was taking steps to disaffiliate with the parent union.
"Disaffiliation," along with its deadlier brother, "Decertification," is one of the words that send union presidents running for aspirin. It's a fratricidal, litigation-filled process that may result in a breakaway local forming its own union, or joining another. SEIU president Andy Stern and his supporters have in the past accused UHW of conspiring to merge with a non-SEIU union, the California Nurses Association.
The Oakland-based UHW has been fighting Stern's consolidation of SEIU locals for the past couple of years. UHW claims the move only centralizes Stern's authority while producing mega-locals that are unresponsive to its members on the street level. This week it announced that all 17 of state officers, including president Sal Rosselli, were re-elected. A UHW press release wasted no time in rubbing in the contrast between its election and the democracy record of the L.A. local Stern wants UHW to be joined with:
"At SEIU Local 6434, run by Stern protégé Tyrone Freeman, Stern approved election rules that required challengers to collect 4,800 signatures within three weeks. According to the Los Angeles Times, that requirement "made it nearly impossible for candidates not on his slate to qualify for the ballot."
Freeman was the head of Local 6434 until an L.A. Times corruption expose forced Stern to ban the disgraced leader from SEIU for life.