Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Future of SEIU

The Los Angeles Times today has a short piece about SEIU titled The battle for labor's future. Its subtitle is The SEIU's Andy Stern has an ambitious plan. Not everyone is on board, which about sums it up:

Within the SEIU itself, Stern is facing a revolt by United Healthcare Workers West, the 150,000-member California local that is led by Sal Rosselli, a former nursing home worker who has been a union leader since 1988, when he won an insurgent campaign to rebuild what was then Local 250 in the Bay Area. In the years since, Rosselli has been a pioneering militant, organizing nursing homes, hospitals and home-care workers throughout California.

Rosselli once worked cooperatively with Stern, but tensions have arisen in recent years over what the UHW considers an SEIU effort to sideline local leaders in hospital and nursing home contract negotiations. Rosselli and others at the UHW are just as sophisticated as Stern, but they take a darker view of their business and political adversaries.
Next week, our CSUEU delegates to the SEIU International Convention, together with delegates from other locals, will determine the future direction of SEIU. Delegates will decide whether we want to be a member-driven organization where each local directly represents its members, or a centrally controlled conglomerate of tame locals run from Washington:
Similarly, Rosselli and his supporters (not all of whom are in the UHW) argue that the very meaning of unionism will be bleached out of the SEIU unless local voices are once again made potent. "I want a movement of workers governed by workers for workers," said Rosselli, "to be in control of their relationship with their employer, to be in control of the political direction of their union."


All this will be fought out next week at the SEIU national convention in Puerto Rico. Rosselli and his UHW supporters will put forward resolutions calling for more local control of contract negotiations, organizing and finances, as well as direct, union-wide election of national SEIU officers (rather than selection by convention action).
CSUEU is SEIU Local 2579. Executive officers Pat Gantt, Dennis Dillon, and Lori Williams will be our delegates at the SEIU International Convention in Puerto Rico.


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