SEIU members protest v. bigs Stern, Burger

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Caregivers' dues misused by corrupt officials

More than 100 nursing home workers and homecare workers who are members of SEIU Local 6434 gathered today at the Oakland and Los Angeles offices of their parent union, SEIU. They demanded an independent investigation into corruption by Local 6434 President Tyrone Freeman, as well as any role national SEIU officials may have had; the right to choose their own leaders instead of having them appointed by SEIU officials in Washington, D.C.; and a stop to SEIU's forced restructuring of local unions until member control is restored.

Freeman was appointed to run Local 6434 by SEIU President Andy Stern and Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger, and supported with staff and money from Washington, DC. A Los Angeles Times investigation recently revealed he spent union members' dues on an exclusive cigar club, a golf tournament, and payouts to his family and friends.
"We are outraged at the abuse of our trust and misuse of our union dues by Andy Stern and Anna Burger's appointee," said Karen Linzy, a homecare worker who lives in Inglewood. "Our leaders should be accountable to healthcare workers in California, not to union officials in Washington, D.C."

Members of the local have been denied the right to choose their leadership since Stern and Burger installed Freeman in 1998 as president of Local 434B. In 2006, SEIU restructured local unions in California, putting Freeman in charge of the largest local union in the state. The U.S. Department of Labor has launched an investigation into rigged election rules that made it impossible for members to run for union office unless they were chosen by Freeman.

Prior to the Times investigation, Stern and Burger had been moving forward with another restructuring plan to move 75,000 more members into Freeman's local without a fair vote.

Weeks after the misuse of funds at Local 6434 was revealed, Stern and Burger replaced Freeman with John Ronches, an assistant to Burger from Washington, D.C. who has no experience with long-term care workers. SEIU has insisted they will investigate the matter themselves using internal union procedures.

"For a union to be the voice of its members, members must have a voice in our union," Linzy said. "There should be no more forced reorganization of our local unions until an independent investigation is complete and control of Local 6434 is returned to its members. Appointing yet another Washington insider accountable only to Stern and Burger is more of the same."


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