5/1/08

Lawsuit over huge union political warchest

On Tuesday, the national leadership of the Service Employees International Union filed a lawsuit against one of its largest California affiliates, United Healthcare Workers-West, for diverting members' dues to an outside fund under their control, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Goldmacher [1], Sacramento Bee, "Capitol Alert," 4/29). Sal Rosselli, president of UHW-W, said the fund was created in the midst of the California health care reform debate in 2007 in anticipation of a November 2008 ballot measure that would have established a funding mechanism for the plan. He said, "We wanted to be able to raise the huge dollars necessary."

SEIU President Andy Stern began raising questions about the fund last month, prompting UHW-W to pass a resolution to "initiate the process of winding down" the fund, called the United Healthcare Workers and Patients Education Fund. UHW-W's action came on April 24 (Goldmacher [2], Sacramento Bee, "Capitol Alert," 4/29).

Lawsuit Details

The lawsuit states that the fund was meant "to establish a well-financed entity with access to a ready source of funds beyond the reach of SEIU's auditing, oversight and trustee powers."

In addition, SEIU spokesperson Andrew McDonald said UHW-W "intentionally deceived their own members and the federal government about how the money would be used" (Goldmacher [1], Sacramento Bee, "Capitol Alert," 4/29).

Rosselli dismissed the suit as "frivolous" (Goldmacher [2], Sacramento Bee, "Capitol Alert," 4/29).

(californiahealthline.org)

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