Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Airport Workers: We Want Out of "Our Do-Nothing-But-Take-Our-Dues Union" (aka, SEIU)

SEIU is once again under fire for selling out workers through backroom deals… and boosting workers’ union dues at the same time!

The latest criticism comes from 1,100 workers at San Francisco International Airport and is aimed at SEIU Local 1877, which is headed by Mike Garcia.  

A local newspaper reports that workers have already filed a petition with the NLRB. Meanwhile, a worker-run blog describes workers' effort to decertify SEIU and replace it with a worker-run union (see more below).  

Here’s an excerpt from an article in the San Francisco Examiner.

Tensions recently flared up between San Francisco International Airport security workers and their representatives at Local 1877 of the Service Employees International Union. Claiming that the union has rolled over in negotiations with the airport's private security contractor, Covenant Aviation Security, several workers have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for an open shop.

The signatories, who constitute more than 30 percent of the bargaining unit covered by SEIU's contract with Covenant, requested a "deauthorization" election that would make union dues voluntary. They plan to hold an election that could create one of the largest open shops in existence — 1,100 workers, including everyone from the checkpoint and baggage departments — if the petitioners garner a majority…

Baggage screener John Marteen, who has worked at the airport since November 2002, said the union has been too conciliatory in accepting Covenant's aggressive budget cuts, most of which sliced into workers' paychecks. Over the past year, Covenant has decreased holiday overtime pay by about 20 percent, raised employees' out-of-pocket expenses for hospital care and withdrawn reimbursements for employees' parking and shoes.

Rather than consulting workers, the SEIU took the liberty of bargaining by itself, Marteen said.

"In one of the meetings in the break room last week, the union said 'We had a choice of this and this, and we took the one that was less of a burden for you guys,'" he recounted.

"I said ... I wouldn't accept either of them," he added. "They never made a counter offer — they just accepted what the company presented."

He added that the union also raised the price of dues to 2.6 percent of each employee's paycheck in January, right after the employees got a 3 percent raise.

In a response, SEIU doesn’t challenge workers’ claims about its back-room deals and sell-out concessions. Instead, SEIU says some of the workers are receiving help from a right-wing, anti-union group.

This worker-run blog, however, indicates that workers are not anti-union, but instead want to decertify “our do-nothing-but-take-our-dues union” (SEIU) and replace it with a union that workers run themselves. 

In the blog, workers blast their Boss, Covenant Aviation, for its “profit at any cost” approach and “your complete and utter disregard for the well being of your employees and their families.”

If workers’ decertification effort is successful, SEIU Local 1877 will lose nearly 5% of its statewide membership.