Anti-Stern rally draws 4,000 SEIU members

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'A desperate attempt by Stern to distract attention'

More than 4,000 members of SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) and other SEIU locals marched in downtown San Jose on Saturday to oppose a planned takeover by national union officials.

On Aug. 25, national SEIU President Andy Stern and Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger announced their intent to put UHW into trusteeship, which would replace elected rank-and-file UHW leaders with handpicked appointees accountable only to Stern and Burger. UHW members, who work in hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes across California, have been leading an effort for democratic reform within SEIU and opposing Stern's efforts to centralize power in Washington, D.C.

A letter to Andy Stern from leading labor scholars and historians was presented by Cal Winslow, a labor history fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. The letter declares that a takeover of UHW would be "a disaster for the California labor movement and for SEIU nationally."

"This is a desperate attempt by Stern to distract attention from the growing scandal involving local union presidents he appointed and promoted," said Maria Martinez, an elected shop steward for 15 years at Fifth Avenue Healthcare Center in San Rafael. "In UHW, members elect our leaders and they are accountable to us."

Pat McGinnis, director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said that the trusteeship could lower standards for nursing home care across the state by limiting caregivers' voice to advocate for residents.

"The strategy SEIU International and Local 6434 have pursued with nursing home operators in California discourages caregivers from speaking out about dangerous conditions in nursing homes," she said. "Nursing home workers in UHW have been the leading voice for union contracts that empower them to stand up for their residents."

Eloise Reese-Burns, a nursing assistant at Cottonwood Healthcare Center in Woodland and member of UHW's executive board, announced two resolutions that were debated and approved at the local's annual conference by more than 2,000 elected stewards and member leaders.

One resolution directs the union to protect member control of UHW by mobilizing the union's 150,000 members to stop the illegal trusteeship. The other reaffirms UHW's longstanding goal of building one statewide union that is accountable to healthcare workers in California instead of union officials in Washington, D.C.

With more than 150,000 members, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the fastest-growing healthcare union in the United States. We represent healthcare workers in all job classifications and all healthcare settings, including hospitals, homecare, nursing homes and clinics. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.

Contact: Sadie Crabtree, +1-323-365-2083

SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West


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