Friday, April 11, 2008

SEIU Members Sue SEIU Over Free Speech

Several healthcare workers who are members of United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) have sued Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in federal court for violations of their federal rights to speak freely and to participate in union activities. The suit alleges the workers have been subject to conduct by the SEIU designed to limit, inhibit and chill their exercise of their rights of free speech and equal participation as active members and advocates for democratic policies within their union and in retaliation for their intent to engage in such advocacy at the convention of the defendant SEIU on June 2-4, 2008 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

UHW is SEIU's fastest-growing local. Troubled by SEIU's top-down approach, the UHW Board has endorsed a Platform for Change which UHW delegates will take to the SEIU Convention in Puerto Rico. UHW members recently rallied at the Oakland and Los Angeles offices of SEIU, and picketed SEIU's Washington offices.

SEIU has lately taken what look to be the first steps toward placing UHW into trusteeship. As the San Francisco Bay Guardian put it, [SEIU President Andy] Stern operatives are using their money and organizing clout in a hard-hitting campaign — not to force an employer to the table or to toss out an anti-union politician, but to discredit another labor leader. Placing UHW in trusteeship would keep the elected UHW delegates out of the SEIU Convention in June. UHW will have one of the largest delegations at the Convention.

CSUEU is SEIU Local 2579.


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