A depressing day for the American labour movement

The reproduction of a press release from the California Nurses Association on the role of the SEIU in Ohio hospitals elicited some responses from supporters or members of the SEIU (see http://solidaritymagazine.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/hospital-chain-and-hand-picked-union-seiu-forced-to-cancel-rigged-election/ ), accusing the CNA of acting like employers. We asked the CNA to respond to these criticisms. Communications Director Chuck Idelson writes below.
Nice flowery language from SEIU, but some points we’d make here:

• It was the employer, not the workers, who petitioned for the election.
• The petition did not include a single RN or other employee card requesting representation by SEIU or any other showing of employee support for SEIU.
• SEIU and the employer manipulated labor law to preclude any other organization from appearing on the ballot.
• RNs and other employees were specifically forbidden by their managers, with the agreement of SEIU, from talking about the union or the election, a dangerous violation of the constitutional rights of free speech and association.
• They were the ones who pulled this rigged election, not us. If it was such a great deal for the workers, and if there was such broad support for SEIU, why not go forward and have the vote? We, and other unions, hold elections all the time in the face of opposition — if there is actual support for the union and not just a shoddy attempt to impose a union without real support.

What’s a real depressing day for the American labor movement is when having an employer file for an election without no showing of support from the employees, maneuvering to block anyone else from participating, gagging people from talking about the election or the union, is touted as a new model for national organizing. Not surprising to us that the Ohio Hospital Association called this approach refreshing, according to the Springfield News-Sun yesterday. Is this an approach that moves union democracy forward, are these kind of rigged elections a model for praise, or do they just feed worker cynicism about unions and the perception that unions are a special interest?

And while SEIU is in their self-righteous mode, perhaps they’d like to explain what they are doing in Puerto Rico where they are conspiring with the anti-union government on the island to get rid of a militant teachers union. (see the attachments, the Daily News article and a support flyer for the teachers from a NY solidarity committee).

And perhaps they’d also like to explain their president Andy Stern appearing on the cover of HRO Today to give aid and comfort to the proponents of globalization and outsourcing or standing shoulder to shoulder with Lee Scott of Wal-Mart praising efforts to gut real health care reform. Or when he came to California in the fall to cut a back room deal with Arnold Schwarzenegger that produced a deal on a health care reform law that undercut workers but included special perks for his members at everyone else’s expense. Or what they did in Cleveland when they tried to sabotage a levy for public health in 2003 after the county refused to give them a sweetheart agreement for county workers — and ran a campaign so full of lies they were censured by the Ohio Elections Commission.