What About The Membership?
|THERE'S an African proverb that says, "When elephants fight, it is the grass
This appears to be the case for SEIU leadership as Andy Stern, President of
SEIU, and Sal Rosselli, the leader of United Health Care Workers West, have
at it in the media. For those of you who just tuned in, Mr. Rosselli
resigned his position on the SEIU International Executive Board because of
the undemocratic direction of SEIU leadership; growth at the cost of
The issues raised by Mr. Rosselli are significant enough to cause concern,
even among the most apathetic member of SEIU rank-and-file. Are we being
united, or are we being divided? If we go by the recent developements at the
leadership level, there is an obvious division. But what about the
membership? Has anybody bothered to ask?
That membership issue goes to the core of SEIU and the whole reason for a
union's existence. But, just how do you get to ask the rank-and-file? Do you
talk to their board members? Maybe, but there have been a rash of Boards
being dissolved and replaced by appointed board members, who are appointed
for their loyalty to the leadership. Can you go directly to the rank and
file? There too, maybe. Maybe, because only members who support the leaders
positions will be "notified" of these "meetings". This was the case in Los
Angeles on February 26, 2008, where Mr. Stern appeared and spoke to
"invitation only" members regarding the 2008 Convention in Puerto Rico. This
"meeting" was not on 721's website and the rank-and-file were not permitted
to attend, even though some did try. Opposition and dissidents are not
encouraged to attend these functions, even though SEIU's International
Constitution and ByLaws leave room for it. And who's money paid for this
meeting? Why the rank-and-file, or course.
It's appearing more and more obvious that the rank-and-file are being left
out of the equation, becoming little more than cash cows. This situation is
giving rise to efforts by rank-and-file members to communicate with other
rank-and-file members, through other means. Websites are now appearing and
growing like...well, like "grass roots". Here are a few examples:
The fact that there is a need for these websites does not bode well for
SEIU leadership. But it does bring attention to the fact that the
rank-and-file want to be heard and will not be ignored.
So, where does that leave the membership in this SEIU leadership struggle?
How does the rank-and file-get THEIR message across? What is THEIR opinion
on this SEIU leadership issue? What do THEY think about the current
direction of THEIR union? Are they getting what they're paying for? Has
their quality of life improved? Are they better off now, than two years ago?
Are they being better represented at the bargaining table? Are their voices
being heard? Do their votes count?
Short of going to everyone's worksite for these answers, we may just have
to do it the way the rank-and-file are doing it nowadays; look at what
they're looking at....their OWN websites!
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