Randy Shaw: Many feel that unions have invested far too much time and money in electoral work that has not produced promised results, at the expense of ongoing worker organizing to build membership.
Randy Shaw: The SEIU must convince 44,000 Kaiser Hospital workers that the NUHW leadership team that brought them the best contracts in the industry when they previously ran SEIU-UHW should be replaced by out-of-state staff with no such track record. It’s a tough sell, which is why SEIU is avoiding public debates.
Randy Shaw: Candidate Barack Obama pledged to end undemocratic union elections, and recommitted to this reform when he spoke at the AFL-CIO Convention in September 2009. But Obama has not even acted to get legislation addressing the loophole introduced.
Randy Shaw: Since January 2009, SEIU has spent millions in two campaigns against rival unions. Its campaign against UNITE HERE has alienated virtually the entire labor movement, effectively destroyed the Change to Win Labor Federation, worsened SEIU’s budget problems, and achieved none of the hoped-for membership gains – yet SEIU’s raids against UNITE HERE continue.
Randy Shaw: The absence of labor reporters is a symptom of a larger media trend that now sees union activism and elections as deserved only of local coverage, while corporate news wins national attention. So the New York Times reports on Disney’s public relations event in Orlando, Florida is reported by, while UNITE HERE’s far more newsworthy event at Disneyland gets only local press.
One night after withdrawing its support for the California Democratic Party and picketing progressive politicians and labor leaders in San Francisco, SEIU threw eggs at those attending an event honoring NUHW in Los Angeles.
The increasing willingness of other unions to openly back NUHW is most ominous for SEIU. It means that SEIU’s efforts to frame NUHW as a “rogue” labor organization guilty of “raiding” other unions has failed, and that the labor movement now sees NUHW as health care workers’ leading voice for democracy.