United Health Care Workers

Voting on Labor: The New Company Store

by cho and rba

Fresh off the nasty battle with Labor Notes Conference attendees in Michigan last month, SEIU leader Andy Stern may meet new opposition from yet another group, this time an internal challenge, at the May 31st through June 4th SEIU national convention in Puerto Rico.

Ultimately, the controversies seem to be this: Stern believes that the only way to build negotiating power that benefits laborers is to build the union membership and make deals with the employers. CNA, United Healthcare Workers--West, and some of the housekeeping and service locals see such deals as ultimately bad for workers in the long run.

In Puerto Rico next week, the SEIU faces the powerful California local United Healthcare Workers West, led by Sal Rosselli, which is wary of losing its local control. They intend to challenge Stern with resolutions to limit the expansion the national staff's power. Nelson Lichtenstein, in a recent Los Angeles Times article, reports Rosselli as saying: "I want a movement of workers governed by workers for workers to be in control of their relationship with their employer, to be in control of the political direction of their union." Lichtenstein suggests that "the very meaning of unionism will be bleached out of the SEIU unless local voices are once again made potent."