Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SEIU’s Bold New Vision for the Future?

Ever wonder what SEIU will look like in the future? Well, it may look a lot more like “AETNA” than the “AFL-CIO.” That’s according to internal documents that offer a revealing glimpse into SEIU’s newest local union.

At SEIU’s most recent convention in Puerto Rico, Andy Stern and Mary Kay Henry literally gushed about SEIU’s newest affiliate, the “State Employees Association of North Carolina” or “SEANC.”  The local, which represents 55,000 state employees, is now called “SEIU Local 2008.”

What does Local 2008 actually do? According to memos penned by two officials at SEIU Local 521, SEIU’s newest union is pretty much a giant insurance company that spends its time selling insurance products to workers. The two California officials visited North Carolina and then wrote memos for Local 521’s president, Kristy Sermersheim, about their experiences.

According to a memo authored by Chuck Waide (Regional Director of SEIU Local 521), “the primary function” of Local 2008 is “selling insurance.” In fact, Local 2008 has 14 insurance salespeople and, says Waide, is “very efficient and well organized in marketing voluntary insurance programs” to the union’s members. Here’s an excerpt from Waide’s memo:

And how many staff people are actually available to help the union’s 55,000 members with grievances, arbitrations, contract enforcement, bargaining, etc?  According to Waide:

 Waide, in an apparent effort to reassure his readers, then writes:  

Now, Tasty ain’t no Einstein, but how can you be a union if you have no “member committees dealing with labor relations,” “no shop steward program” and just 3 Union Reps for 55,000 members?

So where does workers’ dues money go? Good question. Perhaps it pays the salaries of all the insurance salespeople and bill collectors.

In Tasty's book, this ain't no "bold" and "visionary" future for the labor movement. It's a frickin' nightmare on Elm Street! The memos offer one more sign of the ongoing AETNA-ization of SEIU. After all, SEIU’s “call centers” for handling workers’ grievances fit neatly into this vision that's styled on the insurance industry.

Now, that's not to say that this new direction may be plenty "bold" and "visionary" for certain of SEIU's elite officials. After all, Mary Kay Henry and President Emeritus Andy Stern would be next in line to become the CEO of this giant insurance company (a.k.a. “union”). In fact, Tasty bets that Dave Regan is simply salivating at the chance to pocket more money, on top of his $300,000 salary, once he gets a seat on the insurance company’s board of directors!

P.S. In case you wanna read the full memos from the officials at SEIU Local 521, you can find them here.