Last week, while 2,500 NUHW members at Kaiser Permanente were holding California's biggest strike of 2011, SEIU showed itself to be the ultimate boss's union.
Before the strike, SEIU sent this glossy mailer to the 2,500 strikers in an effort to undermine support for the strike.
Next, NUHW's 1,200 RNs at Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center got a strange letter at their homes. The letter, on plain paper, appeared to be a personal plea from RN Charles Garfield aimed at (you guessed it) undermining the strike. The letter reads:
NUHW STRIKE THREE!!!! Another strike? NUHW wants all of us to strike again and again and again... Months and months of negotiations and no progress, so NUHW will make the RNs walk out again. Another strike is not the answer.
The letter made personal attacks against NUHW's Chief Steward at the hospital by recycling false information that SEIU has been trying to peddle. RNs smelled a rat, so they confronted Garfield, who finally confessed that SEIU had organized and funded the fake letter. Garfield then signed this statement admitting that the whole episode was another one of SEIU's dirty tricks. Garfield's statement reads:
I was provided the personal information (i.e, names and addresses) of Kaiser LAMC - AFN-NUHW Registered Nurses from the Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.). I obtained your personal information without your consent. In addition, SEIU paid for this mailing.
In Tasty's humble opinion, SEIU's latest actions represent a new, despicable low. Is SEIU actually gonna undercut striking workers who are fighting for fair conditions for their patients and families? Gimme a break!
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that SEIU's trustees have worked hand-in-glove with Kaiser executives to promote the giant HMO's interests ahead of workers. Last year, as tens of thousands of SEIU members were in contract negotiations with Kaiser, SEIU's trustees put out this leaflet. The leaflet, filled with inaccuracies, tries to lower workers' expectations about winning better wages and benefits at the bargaining table. It reads:
Economic Downturn Still Rippling through Kaiser.
The economic downturn has been hard on Kaiser. Unemployment in California is the highest it has been since 1941... Kaiser posted $800 million loss in 2008 prompting Kaiser, according to the San Francisco Business Journal, to begin "serious belt tightening"...
Sounds like the boss talking, right? The SEIU trustees conveniently forgot to tell SEIU members that, in 2008, Kaiser made $1.5 billion in profits from its day-to-day operations and that the HMO's so-called $800 million loss was a temporary paper loss resulting from the effects of the downturn of the stock market on Kaiser's investment portfolio. SEIU's trustees also forgot to mention that Kaiser made $2.1 billion in profits in 2009 and gave multi-million-dollar bonuses to its execs because the company was so profitable.
Boss's Union (definition):
(1) A union that cooperates with the employers more than it promotes the interests of the employees.
(2) A union that purports to represent employees while actually ignoring (or working against) the best interests of employees.