SEIU sells out workers
April 11, 2007 1:33 PM   Subscribe

SEIU, largest union in North America, exposed for selling out workers & giving the labor movement a bad name. The much-hyped "visionary" leadership of union President Andy Stern has wrought a deal with CA nursing home operators that imposes a gag order on workers wishing to report patient care atrocities. This revelation comes at a time when the relationships within SEIU's new labor coalition are strained due to failure to move forward on their stated goal of organizing more workers.
posted by univac (6 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Not so much with the SEIUfilter, please. -- cortex

The SEIU sells out the working man... and this is news?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:23 PM on April 11, 2007

Charismatic leader sells out, that's different. Saying SEIU sold out is the same as saying american government attacked Iraq, whereas only the Bush admin did.

Regardless, if worker wants simplicity they could as well return to Great Depression or Victorian Age..everything was simple: you either work or STARVE, regardless of the pay ! Sometime you starved with even with working. It doesn't get any simpler than union, no law, no nothing..only you and famine.
posted by elpapacito at 2:29 PM on April 11, 2007

The SEIU pledged to use its lobbying muscle to pass a 2004 bill increasing MediCal subsidies to nursing homes by more than $2 billion over four years, according to patient advocates. The bill passed, creating a windfall for nursing home owners.

The union also agreed to attempt to pass tort reform legislation that would have limited patients' right to sue in the event they were neglected, raped, abused, or killed. (The union's tort reform lobbying efforts were put on hold, however, after a 2004 SF Weekly story led union members and advocacy groups to complain.)

The SEIU also pledged in the 2003 pact to staunch any efforts by patient advocates to push for legislation or regulations requiring nursing homes to provide enough staff to keep patients safe and healthy, unless the nursing home companies agree to such reforms in advance. The SEIU will "oppose any long-term-care-specific staffing and reimbursement legislation or regulation that fails to meet mutually agreed objectives," the agreement states.
Is this the problem? SEIU is responsible for representing the employees, not the patients. A nurse has no more financial incentive to provide good care then a CEO would. They may have more empathy, or whatever, but why would that be something brought to the negotiating table?

I mean, if more money goes to nursing homes, more employees can be hired. If a patient sues a nursing home and shuts it down, all those employees will lose their jobs. Why would they want that?
posted by delmoi at 2:33 PM on April 11, 2007

That sucks.
posted by serazin at 2:38 PM on April 11, 2007

This article is fishy, and I get the distinct impression the reporter is reading boilerplate from sections as something other than sweeping generalizations.

In return, the nursing home chain owners agreed to allow the SEIU to recruit workers into their union. Under ordinary circumstances, nursing home owners vigorously resist union organizing drives by occasionally intimidating and firing union-sympathetic workers, and by attempting to convince them that union membership isn't in their interest.

That's fishy claim number one. The union contract has workers conceding things in exchange for... the corporation following federal law? That doesn't wash. What the reported is describing here is clear union-busting and the union isn't the enforcing agency, so promising it that you won't piss off the fed makes no sense.

Under the 2003 lobbying pact, all nursing home workers entering the union under the auspices of the agreement would work under uniform, employer-friendly labor contracts called "template agreements."
The agreements also prohibit the unionized workers from picketing, and negotiating improvements in health care or other benefits. They prohibit the workers from having a say in their job conditions.

Again, bad understanding, I suspect. A commitment to not strike during the term of the contract is standard. Check out article XXI in this agreement for the WMATA union[pdf]:

During the life of this Agreement, the Union, its officers, agents, representatives, and members shall not in any way, directly or indirectly, authorize, cause, assist, encourage, participate in, ratify, or condone any strike, sit-down, sit-in, slowdown, cessation or stoppage of work, mass absenteeism, boycott, picketing, or refuse to faithfully and properly perform in whole or in part, any customarily assigned duties for the Authority, or conduct any other interference with or interruption of work at any of the Authority's operations including the recognition of and refusal to cross any picket line erected at Authority premises, and the Authority agrees that there shall be no lockout.

As far as the employees having no say, like it or not, that's the nature of union membership: when you join you are allowing the union to negotiate on your behalf. It's collective bargaining - you can't get the benefits of taking a position in lockstep with all your co-workers and still get to do you own thing.

Smith hasn't shared the document that I can see, but I think his wording here is important (emphasis mine): These agreements specify that the union is not allowed to report health care violations to state regulators, to other public officials, or to journalists, except in cases where the employees are required by law to report egregious cases of neglect and abuse to the state. Getting a commitment from the union that they won't report keeps them from using it as a bargaining chip or selectively NOT reporting it in exchange for something else.

This article smells, and the above incongruities and misrepresentations/misunderstandings calls the whole thing into question for me.
posted by phearlez at 2:57 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

More crazy claims.

It also puts a halt on any traditional unionizing drive in other nursing homes owned by a chain that is party to the lobbying agreement — even in cases where workers have expressed interest in joining the SEIU.

Again, SEIU is not the fed. SEIU cannot waive the rights of workers to organize. It's possible that SEIU agreed not to have drives or even not to accept new members, though that flies in the face of believability, particularly following these other inane misinterpretations this reporter has come up with.
posted by phearlez at 3:07 PM on April 11, 2007

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