Statement by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) on U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Decision in SEIU vs. NUHW
Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a major setback to union democracy and helped advance SEIU’s autocratic, top-down style of corporate unionism. The court’s decision marks another step toward the inexorable decline of the labor movement and represents a huge step backwards for American workers.
In fact, the lawsuit itself is an expression of SEIU’s determination to stifle dissent within its ranks. It began in 2008 when officers of UHW’s 100-member Executive Board unanimously opposed the usurpation of power by the SEIU international union president. First the SEIU president assumed the right to take the authority away from democratically elected committees for the purposes of bargaining with Kaiser Permanente and other employers. When UHW members and leaders resisted, the SEIU president then ordered the undemocratic transfer of 65,000 nursing home and homecare workers into another SEIU local headed by Tyrone Freeman, a close ally of SEIU’s top officials who was widely known to be corrupt and ineffective.
Originally seeking more than $25 million in damages, SEIU “won” a $1.5 million verdict that it spent more than $10 million of its own members’ money to achieve.
The clear intent of the lawsuit was to try to stop workers from creating a democratic, member-led union, and in that, it failed miserably. The National Union of Healthcare Workers is stronger than at any time in its history.
Out of the ashes of UHW and the corruption of SEIU, California healthcare workers have formed a new and more democratic union, NUHW, a union that’s not beholden to SEIU’s cronyism and corruption and that stands for member empowerment and democracy.