Tuesday, November 13, 2012

SEIU Fatcats Sue Each Other in Michigan

Two factions inside SEIU Healthcare Michigan are brawling in federal court over upcoming union elections, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court (see copy below). The SEIU officials are apparently battling over who gets to stay on the union’s payroll after the union loses 45,000 of its members.

Here’s what’s going on:

Next year, SEIU Healthcare Michigan will hold internal elections for its officers, including president, secretary-treasurer, etc. In advance of the upcoming election, one faction of the union's officials -- headed by current President Marge Faville -- is trying to amend the union's constitution so as to change the rules by which candidates can be nominated for the election.

That's how the court brawl erupted.  Faville's faction wants to conduct a mail-in vote to approve the re-written constitution. A second faction -- headed by Secretary-Treasurer Johnnie Jolliffi and Recording Secretary Sheila Guinn -- says a mail-in ballot would violate the union's constitution. According to them, the constitution strictly requires an in-person membership meeting and a two-thirds majority vote before the constitution can be altered.

Last month, the Jolliffi/Guinn faction sued Faville and SEIU Healthcare Michigan in federal court. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to block SEIU Healthcare Michigan from conducting an illegal mail-in vote. Various Purple Palace officials are named in the court action, including SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and Executive VP Kirk Adams.

Here’s an excerpt from “Jolliffi el al (Plaintiffs) vs. SEIU Healthcare Michigan (Defendants).”

The Local Union, SEIU Healthcare Michigan, is trying to amend its Constitution without following the provisions of its Constitution and Bylaws. The main purpose is to change the procedures for nominating officers to be elected to the Local... Plaintiffs have complained to both the Local Union and the International Union about this action, but have received no satisfactory response. This matter is very urgent...

Defendant is violating the Local Constitution... Defendant's actions are illegal... Defendant is violating the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959... In total disregard of the provisions of its constitution, Defendant is preventing its members from discussing at a union meeting the important matter of an amendment to the union constitution… Defendant is violating Section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947… Defendant is liable for a breach of contract under state law.   

In order to bring this matter before the membership in the manner required by the local Constitution and Bylaws, Plaintiffs request a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

So what’s fueling the bitter courtroom brawl? Apparently, the lawsuit is simply the public face of a much deeper battle for control over the rapidly dwindling membership of SEIU Healthcare Michigan. Tasty hears that the leaders of both factions -- Marge Faville, Johnnie Jolliffi and Sheila Guinn -- are all ineffective fatcats.

Faville, for example, pockets $172,000 a year from union members who mostly earn minimum wage. Do you remember SEIU’s famous slogan of “Fight for a Fair Economy?” Well, apparently the Purple Palace forgot to look in the mirror -- especially at the fact that SEIU officials are “living large” off the paychecks of impoverished workers, including the 45,000 members of SEIU Healthcare Michigan who earn only $8 an hour.

Jolliffi and Guinn are no better. Here’s what this trio of purple officials earned in 2011, according to the union’s filing with the U.S. Department of Labor. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
SEIU Healthcare Michigan's Form LM-2 for 2011
Finally, here’s a full copy of the lawsuit: