4/15/08

Cowardly Stern ducks rank-and-file dissidents

This morning, more than a dozen rank-and-file UHW members traveled to SEIU local 1021's headquarters in San Francisco. We were there in an effort to meet Andy Stern as he was addressing 1021's executive board. Our intentions were peaceful. We did not want to disrupt the E-board's meeting. We merely wanted two minutes of Andy Stern's time to discuss our rank-and-file's request to discuss our Platform for Change within SEIU. It's a discussion that we've asked to have for months, without any commitment from President Stern.

We arrived at the 1021 office and were told by staff that we were not welcome, and that we could not enter. The door was closed on us. Later, however, the staff person informed us that the E-board had been notified that we were in the lobby and would be coming out to speak with us.

During that time, one of our rank-and-file members, Ernest Gonzales, saw Andy Stern leaving in an SUV. He had apparently snuck out the back entrance of 1021's offices. Ernest waved for Andy to stop and speak to us, but he drove off instead.

We did get a response from 1021's E-board, and were told that they would not be able to give us two minutes of the E-board's time. There was an E-board member outside who told us that not even their union members get to address the E-board, unless they ask for time days in advance. We were finally told that we would be granted some time on next month's E-board agenda, and would be informed of the time and location.

We were very respectful, and were puzzled with why the president of our International union would refuse to meet with rank-and-file union members. The invitation still stands: Andy you need to meet with the rank-and-file of UHW. We'll even buy the lunch.

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Here's how it happened...

By Ernest Gonzales, Materials Management Technician, St. Louise Regional Hospital, Gilroy, CA

This afternoon I was visiting local 1021 with other rank-and-file members of UHW. I was by the rear entrance of the building, and I turned to see Andy Stern jumping into the back of a white SUV with tinted windows. The SUV was double parked and waiting for him. He was being escorted by a staff member of local 1021. He was accompanied by a woman who I did not recognize.

When I saw him jump into the car, I ran to the side of the SUV facing the sidewalk, where it was double parked. I waved my hands in the air to try to get him to stop. I got up to Stern's window, but the car just took off.

I was right there - I know that he saw me. I was hoping to invite Andy to come talk to us rank-and-file members of UHW. The invitation still stands, and we are still waiting.

(seiuvoice.org)

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