We are the Union. SEIU who are you?

"We are the union, the mighty mighty union!"

I hear the chants in my head.  When I need them, they come to me.

This line is especially true right now for the former members of United Healthcare Workers-West.   We are the union.  A week and a half ago, many of my sisters and brothers and I slept in our union hall, before the hostile takeover by our International, SEIU. As we held our hall, my sisters and I worked to maintain our union.  We fended off anyone SEIU sent to weasel their way in without warrants.  We planned how we'd move forward during an imminent occupation:  how we'd communicate with each other; how we would reach deep into our membership to take our union back.  

It occurred to me that night hunched over the bare desks in the communication department office, the union solidarity posters hanging behind me, that though we had been member leaders up to that point, stewards and activists for union democracy, something had changed.  This was a sort of matriculation, graduation day.  

This was not the sort of matriculation I wanted, but in this moment of crisis, while SEIU was preparing to take our hall, after they'd put us into trusteeship for refusing to go along with their undemocratic processes, in this moment when our staff, some of the smartest, most committed, best people I know, were told by SEIU to leave the Hall and were preparing for their "interviews" (interrogations), our elected officers had been fired for being too strong and too empowered, too unified.  In this dark and outrageous moment in the life of our union and the history of the labor movement, I sensed a quiet determination, a victory.

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After Sit-in, Victory for Aliquippa Hospital Workers

In a victory for laid-off employees of Commonwealth Medical Center (formerly Aliquippa Hospital) who have been fighting for unpaid wages, the Medical Center and its chief lender, Bridge Finance Group, agreed to pay part of the wages owed immediately and to work toward full payment within three weeks.

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United Healthcare Workers Holding Our Ground

{Tonight, Amy Thigpen, the author of this diary, and members of UHW are sleeping in their union halls across California due the threat of imminent seizure of those buildings by SEIU International, which instituted a takeover of UHW West today. Tonight, I'm posting this diary for Amy while we work on getting her and other members a mydd userid. -paul delehanty}

Last night I slept on the kind of carpet you don't really want to examine too closely.  It's splotched with decades of coffee stains and salsa and too many conversations still seem to hang in the stale air, but there I was, curled up on my air mattresses in the union hall in downtown Oakland, the home of United Healthcare Workers West, my union.   On my right my sister the Medical Assistant slept peacefully, on my left my sister the Call Center Representative, across my sister the Ultrasound Technician, and my sister the Optical Technician.  All of them healthcare workers, member leaders and officers in our union.  I realized that I loved this stale, stained room, with carpets held together by duct tape, I love the room because it holds the waking dreams of my sister and brothers in UHW-W.  The place may be held together by duct tape but we as a union are held together by something stronger.

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Juan Gonzalez on Andy Stern - "a colossal scam artist"

Widely-respected progressive columnist Juan Gonzalez nails SEIU's megalomaniac would-be dictator Andy Stern to the wall in a column in today's New York Daily News.


SEIU President Andy Stern is a threat to labor soul

SEIU President Andy Stern is pushing ahead with a plan despite several scandals.

Andy Stern, head of the nation's fastest-growing union and a chief proponent of labor reform, is about to reveal himself as a colossal scam artist.

Stern, president of the 2million-member Service Employees International Union, plans to kick off the new year with a stunning assault on democracy within his union.


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TODAY at 2:30 EST- Netroots Availability with SEIU President Andy Stern

This morning, SEIU President Andy Stern testified before the Senate Committee on Finance.  At 2:30 pm EST, President Stern will hold an availability with the Progressive Netroots to discuss his testimony on the impact of health care and the economic crisis on working families and take questions



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