Saturday, June 30, 2007

Unions Should be Model Employers

Unions like SEIU should be model employers, leading the way in protecting basic workers' rights and respecting workers' quality of life. By attacking workers' voices on the job, proposing a two-tiered system for retiree healthcare like Safeway did in '04, denying workers adequate reimbursement for their commute to worksites, and mandating weekend work, SEIU sounds more and more like a profit-oriented, heartless corporation rather than a labor union. Hypocritical? Or typical of any hierarchical business or organization? How can SEIU Local 721 pride itself on improving the lives of 85,000 city, county, and non-profit workers throughout California when it can't protect the work conditions and benefits of its own employees? Well, luckily for the "labor industry" staff unions like Union Professionals United (formerly UURLA) are stepping up to hold the big purple monster accountable to its own values. Who knows, maybe if UPU manages to succeed in helping SEIU management acknowledge its own contradictions, they may thank us for the therapy. Then we can start charging a fee.

Check out photos from UPU's Friday Info picket

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Voice for All Working People

We, the UURLA-represented staff of SEIU Local 721, are dedicated trade unionists. We are passionately committed to helping working people unite for improved working conditions, better wages and benefits to support themselves and their families, and a voice at work.

As working people in Southern California, we share much in common with the members of SEIU Local 721. We live in the same communities and share many of the same goals and dreams. We also face similar challenges: Many of us worry about retirement and struggle to afford the cost of living in one of the nation’s most expensive areas.

We are fighting for our contract because we cannot truly achieve our mission of improving the lives of Local 721 members and other working people of Southern California if we ourselves do not have a voice at work.

We have reached a crucial point in our negotiations with SEIU Local 721 management. Management is attempting to eliminate many of our fundamental rights on the job, including our rights to meet and confer and to negotiate changes to our working conditions. Specifically, management claims the right to:

- prohibit negotiations on any working conditions that are not spelled out in the contract;
- assign weekend work to staff without discussion or additional compensation;
- deny staff members the right to organize concerted actions;
- assign staff to work out of town with no meet and confer and with insufficient notice.

We are extremely disturbed by management’s decision to put these four proposals on the table, as each of them contradicts the values of the labor movement. The management of SEIU Local 721 would never accept these proposals on behalf of the members of SEIU Local 721, and as the professional staff of SEIU Local 721, we likewise reject these proposals.