Friday, April 26, 2019

Lawsuit Alleges Another Sexual Scandal inside SEIU

SEIU continues to face allegations of sexual misconduct nearly two years after it grabbed headlines for scandals surrounding SEIU EVP Scott Courtney, several Fight for $15 staffers, a top official at 1199SEIU in Boston, and SEIU-UHW.

In one of the most recent episodes, SEIU’s second-largest local union was hit with a civil lawsuit by a former female organizer alleging that three male co-workers sexually assaulted her during an offsite work event. 

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, names SEIU Local 2015 and three of its male staffers as defendants.

The suit alleges that the three male staffers committed assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and defamation in an episode that’s reminiscent of the infamous one allegedly carried out by conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during a high school party.

Here’s what happened at a “work function” in Chicago, according to the lawsuit by the female SEIU organizer:
“Despite Plaintiff’s repeated statements that she was not interested in sex with him, Defendant #1 grabbed Plaintiff by the arm, took his penis out of his pants, and attempted to penetrate Plaintiff with it. Defended #2 restrained Plaintiff and prevented her from escaping while Defendant #1 attempted to rape her. Defendant #3, a supervisor for Defendant SEIU, watched the entire incident, verbally encouraging Defendants #1 and #2.”

A source inside Local 2015 tells Tasty that despite the lawsuit’s allegations, the union returned two of the defendants to work. And the local hired Glenn Rothner -- a lawyer whom SEIU often hires to fight decertification campaigns -- to defend itself against the suit.

Rothner recently filed a motion seeking to remove Local 2015 as a defendant. He argues that the union should not be held liable “because sexual assault is not within the course and scope of employment of the employees of unions.” Nice argument.

The lawsuit comes two years after #MeToo scandals forced SEIU President Mary Kay Henry to appoint an external advisory group to determine what practices SEIU could enact to stop sexual abuse within the union.

Hmmm. Sounds like Mary Kay Henry was not too successful.

And the suit comes at roughly the same time that Local 2015 decided to flaunt its impeccable moral judgment by re-hiring a disgraced former staffer, Rickman Jackson, who was removed from his job in 2008 for stealing $33,500 from the union’s low-waged members while serving as the Chief of Staff to the union’s then-president, Tyrone Freeman.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Members: 'Democracy Is under Fire at SEIU Local 73'

Dian Palmer

Here’s an update from Chicago about SEIU’s trusteeship of SEIU Local 73.

It turns out that SEIU officials did a real doozy on Local 73’s constitution and bylaws during the trusteeship of this union of  approximately 25,000 mainly public-sector workers in Illinois and northwestern Indiana.

Under the union’s old rules, Local 73’s officials were required to hold four general membership meetings each year where members could pose questions to union officials, introduce resolutions, vote on motions and budget issues, and take other actions.

What changes did the union’s new constitution bring?

Well, they eliminated the union-wide membership meetings and replaced them with one “assembly” per year… where only delegates are permitted to speak and vote. Members can only be observers.

In a recent newsletter, an opposition slate called “Members leading Members” offers more details:
the most damaging change came when the trustees eliminated all four annual membership meetings required by the old constitution. This act alone will completely take the members’ rights away when it comes to holding their leaders accountable and charting the direction of their local. Dian Palmer, from the very first day she came in from Wisconsin as a trustee, hated the membership meetings and the fact that the members were asking questions. At one staff meeting in June of 2017, Dian Palmer proposed that we eliminate the question and answer sessions from the membership meetings altogether.

At a membership meeting held on February 23, Local 73 officials – including the union’s current Chief of Staff Tyson Roan -- reportedly called police arrest Local 73’s former president, Christine Boardman, for allegedly “trespassing” when she attended the meeting and handed out the leaflet below. Boardman said she has a right to attend the meeting since she’s a retiree.

Meanwhile, the “Members leading Members” slate reports that trustee Dian Palmer -- Local 73’s new president -- got her salary bumped to $166,000 per year. Union members reportedly filed charges over the pay increase, alleging it was not properly approved.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Election Brings Initial Loss for SEIU at Kaiser

SEIU may be on the brink of losing a unit of 343 Registered Nurses at Kaiser Moreno Valley Medical Center in Southern California.

Last Friday, nurses cast their votes in an NLRB election triggered by members of SEIU Local 121 who requested a formal vote so they can leave SEIU because they’re dissatisfied with the union.

On election night, a majority of the ballots supported leaving SEIU. The final vote tally won’t be finalized until three dozen “challenged” ballots are resolved. According to the NLRB, the vote tally at the end of election night was the following:

No Union:  120
SEIU Local 121:  111
Challenged Ballots:  37

SEIU Local 121 appears to be worried it’ll lose the election when the “challenged” ballots are finally counted. After the vote count, it filed a formal appeal with the NLRB in an effort to overturn the entire election.

The hospital’s nurses have been members of SEIU for more than 10 years but have been dissatisfied with SEIU for a long time, according to an RN who called the purple union “fear mongers.”

The vote couldn’t come at a worse time for SEIU. The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which includes Local 121 and other SEIU locals, will go back to the bargaining table with Kaiser for the first time on April 17 to negotiate a “national agreement.”

Since 2009, SEIU unions at Kaiser have been led by SEIU-UHW president Dave Regan, who has given away massive cuts in health benefits and retirement plans at hospital chains across California. Kaiser now appears to be angling to win the same cuts for its workers. 

Regan has been a big proponent of “partnership” deals with Kaiser and even colluded with Kaiser executives to fight strikes by other Kaiser workers, including statewide walkouts by the National Union of Healthcare Workers and the California Nurses Association.

Last year, Kaiser’s partnership unions split into two after Regan reportedly attempted to seize more decision-making power inside the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. The unions fed up with Regan broke away and formed a new coalition called the Alliance of Health Care Unions, which negotiated a national agreement of its own in 2018.