Friday, January 19, 2018

Insiders: SEIU Trustees Fire 10 Staffers Seeking to Run for Officer Positions at SEIU Local 73

At SEIU Local 73 in Illinois, two trustees appointed by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry have reportedly fired about ten members of the union’s staff after they announced plans to stand as candidates for the union’s executive board and top officer jobs as part of an opposition slate of candidates, according to insiders.

The firings by SEIU trustees Dian Palmer and Denise Poloyac come just weeks after more than a dozen members of SEIU Local 73 sued Mary Kay Henry in federal court in an attempt to force SEIU to end its trusteeship and to allow Local 73’s members to elect an executive board and officers to run the union of approximately 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and northwestern Indiana.

The fired staffers are part of a slate of candidates called “Members Leading Members,” which recently launched a website describing its candidates and platform. The website, which criticizes SEIU’s “disastrous trusteeship,” includes language like this:
instead of preparing the membership for self governance, like they promised, the Trustees are trying to extend the trusteeship or merge our local with [SEIU] Local 1 and/or HCII [SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana].  All of this in spite of the fact that Local 73 members have repeatedly demanded elections and have expressed their anger clearly in the past 4 membership meetings in 2017. It is unfortunate that the International Union and the Trustees are not listening. For these reasons, we have launched our slate and have sent a strong message to the International Union in a petition that this Union belongs to us. We demand an election right now.
…Join the "Members Leading Members Slate" in our fight to restore the power of our Local to those who make it great: our very own members, not individuals selected by the International (SEIU).  We deserve the right to chose who leads our Union, not be dictated to by the International.

On January 8, Palmer and Poloyac sent an e-mail to all Local 73 staffers announcing the immediate suspension of staff members for “launch[ing] an attack on the Union that is seriously divisive to our unity…” (See a copy of the e-mail below.) 

Subsequently, approximately 10 staff members were fired from their jobs, according to internal sources.

Among the fired staffers is Remzi Jaos, who says he plans to run for Local 73’s president. Until his firing, Jaos directed Local 73’s Higher Education Division and earlier was a staffer at SEIU Local 1 and the Illinois Nurses Association, according to his bio on the “Members Leading Members” website.

Other fired staffers reportedly include Willie English (running for Secretary-Treasurer), Brenda Woodall (running for Vice-President, and Rick Loza (also running for Vice-President).  

When will internal officer elections at Local 73 actually take place?

Not clear.

A lawsuit, filed by 13 rank-and-file members of Local 73 on December 14th, asked a federal judge to order elections sometime in February 2018. In court filings, however, SEIU’s attorneys denied multiple allegations in the lawsuit and asserted that the court has no jurisdiction over this issue.

Meanwhile, SEIU officials have scheduled a “Leadership Conference” for January 27 and a membership meeting for February 10.

Stay tuned.