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.

5 comments:

art2thebone said...

That's funny that this post/site is called " A Voice for All Working People" when the members who have been forced into 721 have lost their voice. You see the members of local 347 were the only local that did not want any changes to it's structure when SEIU held hearings regarding consolidation in California last year. Did Andy Stern listen to us? No.

That is why we have formed FIght for 347. Some of you may have heard of us. We wouldn't be surprised if 721 has kept our opposition from you staffers. Have a look for yourselves.
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/fightfor347/

The fact is that 721 is not the same local that was certified by the City of Los Angeles Employee Relations Board to represent over 9,000 city employees. We have made the city aware of this, and have been granted hearings to decide this issue. So at this point 721's amended certification has not been granted.

SEIU seems to be treating it's workers as badly as it's dues paying members. The members of 347 realize that we are the union, and we will decide the direction of our local. The members of other SEIU locals feel the same and are now begining to contact us from all over the nation.

So local 721 staffers, what will you do? Will you continue to work against the members who pay the union to represent them? Will you continue to try and force 721 down our throats? Seems like SEIU has made a real mess of things.

Feel free to visit our site and leave comments. Unlike 721, we are not afraid to answer questions or address negative statements.

The Fortress said...

Thanks for the words of support, Art. You're right, 721 staffers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We love the idea of working to build a member driven labor movement, but SEIU officials in DC have a tough time defining "member-driven". Staffers are forced to push the company line or suffer the consequences. In order to fight for the democratic rights of SEIU members, we have to protect our rights as well. So what will we do? Personally, I'm not stuffing anything down anyone's throat. As a person with self-dignity and respect for other people's intelligence, I will try to be as honest as possible. That means letting the whole fucking world know how Andy Stern's top-down/corporate approach to union organizing is leaving its members and staff in the dark. I'm also hoping that members like yourself keep raising hell until democracy in SEIU prevails.

art2thebone said...

I appreciate your response and hope that we can all somehow find a way to make SEIU accountable for it's treatment of members and staff. We will make sure that we send a strong message that forces SEIU to listen to the will of it's members.

I understand that this is more difficult for staff members because you are employed by SEIU and have to worry about your jobs. There are ways that you can fight back though.

I hope you understand that at the hearings we have scheduled before our Employee Relations Board, we will prove that 721 does not have the legal standing to file for amended certification of the 9,000 plus city employees that were represented by the former Local 347. Once we prove this there will not be a union. Our first goal is to remain with SEIU. SEIU will have to act quickly and grant us "exclusive jurisdiction" or we will have the opportunity to take our dues money somewhere else. There is no need to decertify from a local that was never certified to be our bargaining representative.

We urge you staffers to to make Andy Stern aware that there is no possible way for 721 to win. The sooner he recognizes this and grants us exclusive jurisdiction, the sooner we will be able to move forward and begin to rebuild the local that was always run by it's members.

Check out this site that was built by the former Local 660' staffers.
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/Local660/

PurpleDragonPuffer420 said...

puahhahahaha...revenge. yes.

Julie said...

A Message From Garcia
FYI: A LETTER FROM SEIU 347 MEMBER CITY OF LOS ANGELES WORKER
Rafe Garcia

SEIU 347 January ’05 – ’07 Total Income $12,008,205.45
SEIU 347 January ’05 – ’07 SEIU International - 3,579, 644.75
SEIU 347 January ’05 – ’07 Net Income $ 8,428,560.70

APPLES AND ORANGE

SEIU 347 was merged into a larger local comprised of several Southern California
SEIU Locals. Although it was not a “Hostile Takeover” in the traditional sense
of Wall Street jargon, many folks on the shop floor interpret it as such. When
the International held hearings earlier this year at a downtown Los Angeles
hotel, I attended and I had this to say to the International:
Do you know the President of our Local 347, Bob Schoonover? (They acknowledged
that they did). I said, “We the rank and file members of Local 347 elected
him”.
“Have you met the Executive Board of Local 347”? (They acknowledged that they
did). I said, “We the rank and file members of Local 347 elected them”.
“Do you know the General Manager of Local 347, Julie Butcher: (They acknowledged
that they did)”. I said, “The Executive Board hired her and her staff”.
I said to the International, “Local 347 sends you 2 million dollars a year (in
reality, SEIU 347 sent the International 1.5 million dollars in 06 and 05,
totaling 3 million in two years)”.
“We are paying your wages tonight. We are paying for your hotel and food. We
are paying you Per Diem. We are paying for your travel expenses”.
What I continued to say in effect that evening was that what the rank and file
members of Local 347 had to lose by being merged into a "Mega Local" is
empowerment.

Today as I write this to you in the month of July, in 2007, is that what I said
to the International earlier this year holds true today. However, now the
International has set things in motion which in effect will permanently make the
former members of Local 347 impotent.
Before the SEIU International Big Brother forced the merger, SEIU 347 was an 800
pound guerilla.
SEIU International Big Brother made a monkey out of SEIU 347.

When the SEIU International imposed the merger of Southern California SEIU
Locals into one Mega Local now known as Local 721, I thought all was lost. I
thought the members of Local 347 were doomed to the whim and wishes of Big
Brother at SEIU Headquarters.

GOOD NEWS. It turns out, a small group of City of Los Angeles SEIU Local 347
rank and file members went to the City of Los Angeles Employee Relations Board
and challenged the process in which the SEIU International is taking all of the
money intended to go to SEIU Local 347. The bottom line is this. City of Los
Angeles SEIU 347 members signed authorization cards for their dues to go to SEIU
347. The SEIU International told the City of Los Angeles that the money of
dues paying members of SEIU Local 347 should go to SEIU Local 721. The City of
Los Angeles faces a legal dilemma. The employees of the City of Los Angeles
authorized the City Comptrollers office to direct Union member dues to Local
347. Not to Local 721.

When the SEIU International began the process of merging the Southern California
SEIU Locals into one Mega Union (Local 721), SEIU Local 347 members, elected
officers and staff, categorically expressed disapproval of the (takeover)
merger. The purported election that took place by mail included all of the
SEIU Locals in Southern California. It was not a Local 347 election.
Consequently, all of the small Locals that want to be part of a much larger
organization dictated the resulting approval.

SEIU Local 347 is a labor organization comprised largely of employees of the
City of Los Angeles. SEIU Local 347 issues are those of municipal workers.
The President of SEIU Local 721 (whose name I do not even know) is a former
staff member chosen by Big Brother at SEIU International Headquarters. The
President of SEIU 721 could have been working at Mc Donald’s. It seems to me
that it makes no difference to Big Brother at SEIU Headquarters. The last and
most recent President of SEIU Local 347 before his office was dissolved by Big
Brother at SEIU International Headquarters was Bob Schoonover(Bob Schoonover was
appointed to Vice President of SEIU Local 721 by the SEIU International. Bob
Schoonover is a good example of the tradition of SEIU Local 347 tradition and
culture. Bob Schoonover has been an employee of the City of Los Angeles ( not
Mc Donald’s) for approximately thirty years and has been a member of Local SEIU
347 for the same amount of time. Bob Schoonover has been in contract
negotiations over twenty years.

With the forced merger of Southern California SEIU Locals into one Mega Local,
members of SEIU Local 347 are not losing a popularity contest. SEIU Local 347
has lost the ability to direct its energy and resources to issues that affect
City of Los Angeles municipal workers. The President of Local 721 ( I do not
know who that person is) does not know who the members of Local 347 are. The
President of Local 721 does not know who the City of Los Angeles management is.
I personally have the cellular telephone number of former President of SEIU
Local 347 in my cell phone directory. I personally have the cellular telephone
number of the former General Manager of SEIU Local 347 in my email account phone
directory should I have ever have cause to telephone the former General Manager.
I do not even have the business card of the present President of SEIU Mega Local
721 (I have no idea who this person is or what this person looks like. I
could cross paths with this person and I would not know that this person is the
President of an SEIU Local of which I am purported to belong to).

I apologize to the reader of this letter for the length of this letter. But I
feel that it is important to make myself clear. There is going to be a hearing
in August before the City of Los Angeles Employee Relations Board. It is
important that members of Local 347 be informed of what is really going on. It
is important for the City of Los Angeles hierarchy to understand that interest
groups outside of the City’s sphere of influence are at the city’s gates. And
those outside interest groups have their own agenda with interests beyond city
limits.
If you are a resident of the City of Los Angeles, it is imperative that you
contact your City Councilman or Councilwoman. Inform them that you are a SEIU
347 member, a city employee and how the hostile takeover of SEIU Local 347 will
affect the political landscape forever.

How do you like them apples?

Let’s make something clear. The SEIU International Hostile Takeover of SEIU
347 is one issue. And the SEIU 347 Contract Negotiations with the City of Los
Angeles is another separate issue. The SEIU International Hostile Takeover of
SEIU 347 cannot be put aside and disregarded for the time being because SEIU 347
Contract Negotiations are taking place. No. You cannot put your head in the
sand or anywhere else. If the SEIU International Hostile Takeover of SEIU 347
is not addressed now and confronted with it will be too late to act and the die
will be cast. Apples and Oranges. One has nothing to do with the other.

NOTE: the 2007 SEIU 347 Bargaining Team Members that were elected by the members
of SEIU Local 347, signed petition forms for their elected representative with
the clear identification of SEIU LOCAL 347

”Fight for 347” is fighting to have the city NOT recognize 721 as the same union
as 347. Therefore Fight for 347 feels that 721 does not have the legal standing
to file a petition before the city for an amended certification, and should not
be recognized as our union. It is a new organization and a new way of doing
business. The members of 347 will lose their voice if 721 is successful.

Go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fightfor347/ You can call Art Sweatman
at: 562.298.7416 or 213.216.6337

This is the staff of local 721 protesting and picketing 721. Looks like they
still don't have a contract and are facing some grim proposals from 721
management at the bargaining table.

How can local 721 claim to be able to fairly represent 85,000 members when their
own staff is unhappy with the working conditions being forced on them?

Members of local 347, don't believe all of the hype and propaganda that 721 is
trying to sell you. When staffers try and tell you that 721 is a better union
and that you shouldn't fight for 347, don't believe them! They are being paid to
tell you this. The truth is they aren't happy with this merger either. If we
speak and fight against 721, nothing happens to us. If staffers speak against
721 and try to help us, they get fired. It's not protected activity to them.

Go to: http://strongervoice.blogspot.com/
Stand up and fight for your union. Staff will not fight for 347, this is our job
alone. We are the members...we are the union.