Thursday, April 12, 2012

Philly Guards Trounce SEIU in Election

Remember this post about an NLRB election for security guards in Philadelphia? The election, which took place Wednesday, pitted a small independent union against SEIU in an effort to unionize guards employed by AlliedBarton, a giant U.S. security company owned by billionaire Ron Perelman.  

Back in 2007, SEIU’s Andy Stern cut a secret deal with AlliedBarton that caused SEIU to pull the plug on its effort to unionize the Philadelphia guards, “leaving openly pro-union workers to face management’s wrath,” according to this article.

When the workers recently announced they planned to join the newly created Philadelphia Security Officers Union (PSOU), AlliedBarton teamed up with SEIU to undermine the effort and tried to force the workers to join SEIU. AlliedBarton announced that the guards could join SEIU without an election, and then gave lists of the guards’ home addresses to SEIU so its purple-shirted organizers could bang on their doors and pressure them to sign up with SEIU.

Fortunately, the guards resisted AlliedBarton’s joint campaign with its company union, SEIU. And on Wednesday, the guards voted 72-2 to join PSOU in an NLRB election!

The election may be small, but it’s making waves across the country. Why? Because it shines a spotlight on SEIU’s backroom deals with bosses that sell out workers. And it shows the power that workers have to take control of their unions.

Tasty recommends this article in Labor Notes about yesterday's election: “Philly Security Guards Choose Independent Union, Spurning SEIU.” Here are some excerpts:
The [guards] filed for an election in March—and were immediately hit with a blitz of purple-clad SEIU door knockers...

SEIU organizers quickly hit the doors, and six PSOU organizing committee members report that their pitch included a promise of neutrality from AlliedBarton.

“Neutrality was not an offer that was extended to PSOU,” said Penn officer Terrell Rivers. “I wonder why. Is it because SEIU and our bosses at AlliedBarton are friends?”

SEIU organizers told workers a bigger union could win better contracts. But PSOU supporters were adamant that a union that cuts deals without inviting rank and filers into the conversation was not a union they want.

“They negotiated on my behalf with my boss,” said Colin Koch. “Whatever deal was cut did not include our voice. If this is the start of our relationship with the SEIU, then what can we expect in the future?”