Monday, July 23, 2007

The Labor Movement: The folks who brought you the weekend until SEIU took it away.

I can't believe SEIU 721 management is asking us staffers to waive our rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act! That's like telling people of color to waive or agree that they're exempt from the Civil Rights Act! What's next, is Andy Stern, John Tanner, or Annelle Grajeda now going to tell African American staffers to waive their right to vote because its getting in the way of the movement?!?! You know, SEIU management is starting to smell like a White Male dominated pile of Corporate bullshit and that's not in any way an exaggeration. Just last month, the Nation ran an article detailing Andy Stern's front-door deals with Wal-Mart but that is just the tip of the iceberg cuz the shit runs deeper in the locals.

SEIU 721 management wants us to work weekends without compensation, without limits to how many weekends we work, or where we work. I guess John Tanner misses cracking whips over people's back. SEIU management treats us like we don't have families, like we don't deserve time to rest and enjoy our lives. They hire highly qualified, highly experienced people to work in SEIU but they turn around and want us to submit like a bunch of ignorant dogs. They expect us to sacrifice our lives in the name of a movement - SEIU management's movement without any backing from SEIU members. Then they turn around and claim to be heroes for working families. HA!

SEIU is supposed to be the biggest, baddest labor union in America with over 1.8 million members, but in reality, it's busy trying to break labor laws just to win power over its staff. That's fucked up and SEIU management needs to check itself. We know about all the dirty, illegal shit that management makes us do. Like, making staff do political work under the guise of volunteering, not counting staffs' weekend work in financial reports, silencing vocal, democratic SEIU members, using member dues in questionable ways, blah blah blah the list goes on.

SEIU management needs to stick to principles of labor rights, human rights and civil rights or find itself alone with no member backing, no staff support, and just a bunch of arm chairs to rest their heads on thinking about how next to exploit people.


SternStaffer1 said...

Hey LadyMuffLicker,
You should watch what you're saying. I think you have a pretty inaccurate picture of what SEIU really intends to do. Unions in America are a dying breed and we need to band together as a movement to determine the course of our future. Unless we make the necessary sacrifices now, our children and the children of our members may be totally denied an legal labor right. We signed up with SEIU knowing damn well it would be hard work and that we would be working weekends. This isn't the time to throw temper tantrums over a little bit more work. This is the time to trust and follow Stern's lead. He has a vision to revitalize labor in America, if you read it (I doubt you have) you would agree that workers cannot be the problem anymore, whether you're staff or a member. Now is the time to make partnerships with management so that we can mutually build a stronger American economy. That can only happen if everybody from the local level to Washington DC are cooperating along the same lines. Open your eyes, a bright future looms in the horizon and sooner than later we will be the ones to carry the lead. The question is, will you shape up and take the responsibility?

art2thebone said...

Hey Sternstaffer1, I am a member of SEIU and LadyMuffLicker( great username!) hit the nail right on the head. The dues paying members of SEIU will not accept sacrificing worksite presence for Andy Stern's vision of his "stronger America".

You must be SEIU management, because I don't know any staffers who would fight as hard as they do for member's rights just to give up their own. Shame on you for blindly following Andy Stern without any questions asked. Power that goes unchecked becomes corrupt.

We the members of the now dissolved Local 347 know how to fight back.
Your staff site is proof that the core of this organization has become rotten. The members are not happy, and neither is the staff.

When we gain exclussive jurisdiction of our local, we will make sure that people like Sternstaffer1 do not have jobs that can damage what we have fought so hard to defend.

Our fight is growing and spreading to other locals like a wildfire. We welcome any staffers who want to help us win this fight. We will keep anyone who helps us annonymous.

You can contact us at our site or contact me directly:
I make no secret of who I am. My yahoo username is no secret to 347 staff members. I am one of 347's leaders and active stewards and I do not back down from anyone...including Andy Stern.

Let's take this union back...let's make it the union that we were all proud to be a part of.

HumanTorch said...


Easy, my brother. I think (I hope!) sternstaffer1 was kidding. No one with half a brain would seriously suggest that the proper role for the American labor movement is to "make partnerships with management so we can mutually build a strong economy." Bosses are bosses. Global greedheads want more of everything - money, power, property. If Stern - or anyone else - thinks that labor is going to march arm in arm with capital to "a bright future ... [on] the horizon", well, they have swallowed the Kool-Aid.

Flame on!

art2thebone said...

I hope you're right Humantorch. But I also know that SEIU has been making some moves that are not only disturbing to the members, but to staffers as well. It is our collective responsibility to act if we see any negative changes in our union. As a union steward, my job is to make sure that I protect members rights, both at the worksite, and at the union. At Local 347, we will make SEIU accountable for trying to take our voices away and ignoring our opinions. We will make sure that the members control the direction of their local.

Old School said...

I started with the SEIU back in the late 70's on the West Coast and remember the fearsome pride SEIU Locals held for their autonomy. Those days are now coming to a close. Anyone who mistakes these corporate-style mergers of Locals as some new "vision" is a fool. You cannnot use a corporate template on a democratic body. And no matter how hard the SEIU leadership may salivate over the explosion of corporate growth nationally and internationally, it cannot be force fed to tens of thousands of Union members with slogans and logos and no substance. Although painful, I am so happy to work for a Union where autonomy is still prized, and the Locals still call their own shot on a great many things - and can still voice their opinion on any subject to leaders they know.

Rise-Up said...

As a long time figher for social justice, I deeply resent being told that this is the movement not a job. I have bben part of movements my whole adult life and I not only was I never paid but I aways have a voice as a full participant. Don't be fooled by the bullshit or drink too much purple koolaid. THIS IS OUR JOB AND A WE ARE ENTITLED BOTH UNDERLAW AND BY THE PRINCIPALS OF ORGANIZED LABOR TO BE TREATED AS AS WE FIGHT FOR OTHERS TO BE TREATED.H. This is my 3rd union job andI knew I would work some weekends but I didn't know there would be no master calendar so I could plan my days off. I didn't know I would be expected to lie and violate state election finance laws or that I could be disciplined for not selling enough raffle tickets. Organizing is about changing folks consciousness and providing an opportunity to collectively figure out how to fight for change. What we do is sales; it is about spin and turnout. How many COPE cards did you get today?

Finally Fed Up said...

I am so happy that you guys are finally standing up to those assholes. I know from experience that SEIU 660 now 721 has no loyalty to anyone. Clearly it's a freaking circus over there. The smartest thing they've ever done is to lay me off. Guess what, I don't have the stress of feeling like an at will employee and I don't have to meet those ridiculus ass COPE goals nor be on probation for 18 months. I wish that you guys would just walk out on their pitifull butts. Oh by the way, thanks for the severance pay.


Former UURLA Member

Seiuperman said...

Cope goal is 20% of membership times 5 bucks a head. Next political fundraiser is American Dream. $20 for each member. Andy has a vision. Get with the program.

art2thebone said...

Hey Seiuperman, if you don't start listening to the members, there won't be a program. You and Andy are going to have to find a job somewhere else. Maybe Walmart will hire you guys...Andy already seems to have an inside track there.

Longingfor535 said...

It takes this pot a very long time to boil, but I can no longer in good conscience hold my fingers from bubbling over!
I am a casualty of the 721 fiasco. I am a rank and file member, but also an elected Chapter leader and had been an elected State Executive Board Delegate with SEIU 535 for over 10 years. I am not a quiet person and I will step up and speak my peace and fight for what is right AND WHAT IS GOING ON HERE IS NOT RIGHT!
I will admit that I did not fight the merger though I did testify at the jurisdictional hearings in San Francisco.When Andy Sterns directive came out I had hope that the International had actually heard and had taken into account the issues and ideas that we presented.
Having had only the experience of working with SEIU 535, which respected and listened to the real "Union" the Rank and File Members. Who valued their Field Reps., Organizers and Office Assistance. I had even been on Managements side of the table in their contracts negotiations with TSU & OPEIU, and none of the pratices suggested here in this blog would have ever hit the table from Managementss side, because 535 lead by example! They valued their staff, they understood that staff are the Rank and Files mentors.
I thought and expected that all of the Locals and Leaders were principled and ethical activists who really believe in the Labor Movement. What a shock! The first nightmare was Bloody Wednesday when 721 laid off 95% of the previous SEIU 535 staff and left my Chapter without any local representation for 5 months. They literally did not even know that our chapter existed.
It took me an entire week of long distance calls and several sever emails to everyone that I could think of to even get their attention that we had numerous Civil Service level grievances going on, that we also have 6 meet and confer issues that needed to be addressed and we are now starting MOU barganing. The total amount of disorganization on the adminastrative level is unbelievable. They made a big show of acting like they were wanting to help and that they now knew we were here and Rescue Ranger had arrived, well that was in June, and we have a Work Place Organizer that has written 4 letters and shown up for 3 meetings in 2 months. I think they wanted to appease us and get us quiet and then ignore us again, oh and by the way hows about getting more members to contribute to COPE! NOT!!!
No one up in the rare air knows what anyone else is doing, so no one does anything, and members are sick and tired of paying dues down a rat hole.
To be totally honest, I have not seen dishonesty, corruption or misappropriation of funds, nor do I personally dislike any of the New SEIU 721 Leaders that I have met so far,but then I am 4 hours away, and am not able to keep a close eye on what is really going on or really know all the players.
So what can we do and where do we go from here? The design that they are ramming down our throats is unacceptable and our members deserve way better than this, we are paying these people to represent them against a traditionally conservative, abusive employer. We cannot count on those who are supposed to be protecting us! Any and all suggestions will be equally concidered! In Unity,

art2thebone said...

We can help you Longingfor535. We have been able to stop 721 at the City of Los Angeles so far. Contact us here and learn how you can do the same!

Longingfor535 said...

Thanks for all of the words of encouragement, I appreciate it.
So now my next issue to bring to the table to talk about: How can we as member leaders keep our Chapter a float and still maintain our full time jobs?
Over the life of the merger the few of us who are trying to meet the needs of our members grievances, meet and confer and bargaining obligations have been skating on very thin ice and Management is about to pounce. I personally have been doing the job of SEIU 721 at my desk for 7 months now and my regular case work is falling apart. I am swamped and can no longer meet deadlines and expect a scathing Performance Review.
It is because I am devoting 2-3 hours of my work day to the stuff SEIU should be doing for us and the rest of our Rank and File, so who is going to step up and speak for and defend me? Of course Management is unsympathetic and in fact has yet to recognize SEIU 721 as the legal Employee Rep. so we are still flying under SEIU 535 colors. I have been an activist for years but always had enough support to be able to juggle my stressfull full time job and the demands of the Union. I can no longer do that and am afraid to think what is going to happen in the very near future. So where do I stand? How do I fight this, who is my Knight In Shinning Armor?
If I stop doing the Union stuff, my coworkers lose what ever ground we have made over the years, it is a double edged sword and I do not want to fall on it for the sake of Andy Stearn.

Seiuperman said...

What did Annelle tell you? Have you complained?

Longingfor535 said...

The silence is deafening, we try to get their attention, they nod their heads and say they understand and then not a word for weeks on end. I sat across the table from Michael Green, Joyce Howard and Alexis (last name slips the mind) and made the exact same points about myself and 1 other person not being able to handle all the Unions responsibilities much longer, I believe that was at the end of May. So what she said and what has happened speaks volumns.

Ben H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Narsbars said...

How are you guys doing? It is November and no word?

All working people deserve the respect of the employer and if SEIU can't respect the worker then something is definitely wrong.
Please someone post and let us know.

Narsbars said...

How are you guys doing? It is November and no word?

All working people deserve the respect of the employer and if SEIU can't respect the worker then something is definitely wrong.
Please someone post and let us know.