10/2/08

SEIU-UHW workers reject Andy Stern

More SEIU stories: hereAndy Stern stories: here

Rank-and-file resist SEIU's intimidation

In my years as an activist member with SEIU United Healthcare Workers - West I have bee­n a part of many struggles for working people. But in the last months we have been in a different kind of fight. We have stood up to the arrogance of Andy Stern, Anna Burger and other SEIU International officers who, in an attempt to flex their muscles and stifle dissent, have chastened many rank-and-file members and our local, United Healthcare Workers - West with the threat of trusteeship. But I will say now, organized union members will never be intimidated by anyone, International Union officers included. We will stand up to anyone.

I saw this stifling of members voices at the SEIU Convention in Puerto Rico from the moment we entered the convention center, when our delegation was harassed and followed. I saw this as the Convention voted to move me and other workers out of my union and into corrupt Local 6434, ignoring our right to decide where we belong. The hundreds in Puerto Rico voted to move us 65,000 from California. But we were not intimidated then.

In response, we came out in force. At our mass demonstration in Manhattan Beach, where we organized 6000 members to protest another sham hearing, I personally went up to Anna Burger and confronted her, telling her that we will not be swayed and demanded that Stern and Burger meet with our membership. We arenít furniture, we canít be moved around on their whims. We werenít surprised when she said no to a meeting. We stood strong in front of them, never scared.

We continued on to Madison, Wisconsin, where a group of us were determined to meet with SEIU International. We continued in our demands for a meeting with Andy Stern, and to our surprise he agreed to meet us for a brief talk. But he said very little to us, claiming that he couldnít say anything without his lawyers. Instead of our elected officers working for us, Andy and Anna wanted the lawyers to do their job, so they could wash their hands when we pressed them with questions. When faced with dozens of informed, angry union members, maybe our International union officers were intimidated by us!

And most recently, I and fifty other UHW members occupied the SEIU International office in Alameda to demand answers from out-of-touch union officials who support taking away our voice. We shouldnít be afraid to confront them -- they work for us!

This is a movement of union members who have one goal: to keep our democratically run union, UHW, where we make decisions. I and others in our union have confronted our bosses and won, through the power of organized union members. We are not afraid to take on any fight, even against SEIU International officials.

- Juan Antonio Molina, UHW Member, San Francisco, CA

(seiuvoice.org)

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