The Crisis in SEIU Homecare -- Why? A CA Homecare Worker Speaks Out
|The Crisis in SEIU Homecare -- Why?
by Barri Boone
HOMECARE BECAME a paying job along with childcare and domestic cleaning when
the extended family broke down, and most families needed to have at least
two members working outside the home to survive. So some Homecare Workers
are now paid for their work, albeit, very low wages and benefits, since they
have only recently been organized into unions, which has been a time
consuming process due to having no common worksite.
When SEIU supported Gray Davis as governor of Ca, he returned the favor by
instituting the In-Home Support Service program (IHSS) for the poor disabled
and elderly. Now Homecare Workers have an Employer of Record, county by
county. Their employer is either a Public Authority or a county Board of
Supervisors, and that body negotiates with them for a union contract.
In CA there have been several groups attempting to organize homecare unions.
One was the LA-based United Domestic Workers (UDW), started by Ron Karenga's
wife. SEIU was also organizing homecare, spreading out from their nursing
home and hospital locals. At one point there was a big turf war between
AFSCME and SEIU, wasting incredible amounts of money and energy. It was
finally settled, not at all benefiting the ground workers on either side.
So by 2006, the time of the forced mergers--the county, city, and other
health workers were divided into four segments of CA, roughly along
geographic lines. The Homecare Workers were divided into five turfs: the
largest being United Long Term Care (ULTC) with Tyrone Freeman appointed
leader. And unlike the regional locals, most Homecare workers were not in
the same locals as those closest to them in counties next door! The other
Homecare locals were the UDW, the CUHW, UHW-W and 5000 in Local 521 in San
Mateo and Santa Clara.
Since only homecare in UHW-W and 521 was seriously organized and were in
wealthier counties, they had superior contracts to the rest, LA being the
lowest paid. Tyrone Freeman ran the ULTC like a cult and was also appointed
head of the CUHW. Soon any functioning organizers were spread thin (such as
one staffer for three counties) and replaced by barely functioning Call
One important precident-setting contract with Nursing Homes organized
according to Stern's strategy of -- partnerships with the bosses to get new
dues payers by any means necessary -- was signed in 2004 by 18 Nursing Home
corporations and 4 SEIU leaders: Andy Stern, Mary Grillo, Sal Rosselli, and
Tyrone Freeman. The details of the contract were not made available to the
members and after a while it became clear that it took away the rights of
both patients and workers in order to assure more dues into the pockets of
the union bureaucrats! First the patients rights groups (ADAPT being in the
forefront) mobilized against the sell-out, and later Sal Roselli spoke out
against it's renewal, incurring the wrath of Stern and associates.
So, as of today, the International has been forced to file charges against
Freeman due to his unchecked "financial malfeasance" and put 6434 into
trusteeship. They are trying to put the UHW-W into trusteeship under
trumped-up charges thrown out by the courts. On top of all this, because of
the budget stalemate in Sacramento, all Homecare Workers stand to get wage
cuts and many services for the disabled are now defunct, such as
transportation to school for the poor disabled youth. The disability
movement, particularly CD-CAN, is organizing demonstrations in Sacramento
and Los Angeles, with token support from 6434.
Then there's the banking/economic crisis to add to all the misery of the
poor and/or workers. The SEIU hearing in San Mateo next week will be a
turning point for those who believe in "bottoms up" democratic unions vs
union bureaucracy as usual!
And while many of us brace for the "October surprise" before the elections,
we are now seeing socialism for the banking industry, and a return to
feudalism for the workers!!! Unless ~~ we unite and fight!
Homecare Worker in SEIU 6434
[View the list]