9/3/08

SEIU's pathetic search for a fig leaf

More Andy Stern stories: hereMore embezzlement stories: here

Andy Stern's corrupt proteges have looted members' union-dues

Andy Stern announces a new ethics committee in response to a flood of corruption reports - it's a victory for member democracy activists who've shed light on some of the darkest parts of SEIU, but a self-serving attempt by Stern to do the minimum to save himself.

Stern's announcement that the international will now hold locals to the requirements they set for international staff is only notable because it highlights that there were no such rules before. It's strange that Stern - so quick to threaten trusteeship at the first sign of dissent - has never set standards for whether a president should give lucrative contracts to family members.

New reports make it crystal clear that Tyrone Freeman's corruption was an open secret in SEIU for many years while Stern actively covered up the abuse until forced to act. Now that his appointed leaders have been exposed, Stern feigns surprise and distances himself from them. Emails between him and a senior staffer make it clear (if it wasn't already) that he is motivated by his personal power and reputation rather than the good of SEIU or our movement.

More importantly, his proposed ethics reforms entirely miss the point. Members don't need a fancy new committee to keep our leaders honest, we can and will do it ourselves. Freeman got away with stealing our money for so long not because there was no code of conduct or panel, but because he was propped up and promoted by Stern and the international, and members were shut out of every important decision, without any control or oversight. A union cannot be ethical unless it is democratic. The many members who knew exactly what was going on had no way to remove Freeman - they were required to collect 4,800 signatures in three weeks to run against him.

As Stern says in the story, "These things hurt". If he wants to be seen as a reformer, he should start by giving members back our union, not by creating posts for another set of hand picked friends.

(reformseiu.org)

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