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SEIU Retaliates Against California Caregivers & Democratic Reform Movement
Date:5/6/2008

UHW Healthcare Workers Demonstrate to Protect Their Voice & Vote at SEIU Hearing

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The battle over the direction of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) intensified today as the first in a series of hearings was held to determine the fate of more than 60,000 long-term caregivers who are members of United Healthcare Workers -- West (UHW). UHW represents 150,000 caregivers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout California.

The hearings are a staged attempt by SEIU leaders in Washington to dismantle UHW -- the fastest growing local union in the country -- by stripping the union of 60,000 plus nursing home and homecare workers without a fair, democratic vote. In March, approximately 97 percent of the long term care workers who participated in an election conducted by an independent third-party voted to remain in UHW and voiced strong support of their statewide union of healthcare workers. That mandate from UHW members is being ignored by SEIU.

"I'm not going anywhere," stated Rosie Byers, a homecare worker for 30 years and member of the UHW Executive Board. "UHW is my union, because we are committed to democracy, member empowerment, and have a proven track record of winning great contracts and organizing the unorganized. We voted to remain in UHW, so all healthcare workers can stand together to raise standards for our patients and working families."

UHW members have faced an unprecedented attack from their own parent union, SEIU, for advocating for reforms designed to make SEIU more democratic and accountable to its members. These proposals have been denounced by Andy Stern, president of SEIU, who favors top-down, big business unionism by making secret, behind-the-scenes deals that exclude rank-and-file involvement.

"It's appalling that SEIU leaders based in Washington have retaliated against rank-and-file members and threatened the future of UHW, because we don't agree with their top-down approach," proclaimed Patrick Forte, a chief steward at Diamond Ridge Healthcare Center. "Members should lead the way and have final say in all collective bargaining, contracts settlements, and union mergers. We are trying to reform SEIU to reclaim our voice and ensure democracy."

This latest attack on UHW comes just weeks before the SEIU Convention in Puerto Rico -- a meeting held every four years to establish the direction of the 1.7 million member organization to make amendments to the SEIU Constitution & Bylaws. UHW and its allies have submitted various convention proposals to reform the direction of SEIU by ensuring rank-and-file workers have a real voice in contract negotiations, mergers, and other decisions that directly affect them. More information is available at http://www.seiuvoice.org.

The 150,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest hospital and fastest growing healthcare union in the western United States and represents every type of healthcare worker, including nurses, professional, technical and service classifications. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.

CONTACT: Blinker Wood of SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West, Cell, +1-323-434-5733


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SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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