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United Healthcare Workers Re-Elect All Statewide Officers
Date:1/14/2009

Despite effort by national SEIU officials to oust reformers, local union officers unopposed

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Healthcare Workers (UHW) President Sal Rosselli and all 17 other statewide officers were re-elected Tuesday afternoon, according to UHW election committee chair Debby Schneider. Their victory comes despite a multimillion-dollar campaign by national SEIU President Andy Stern to oust reformers in the local union from their elected positions.

According to a leaked email exchange between top SEIU officials, Stern's campaign involved searching for "pockets of dissent" to engineer the "implosion" of UHW, including running candidates in this election. Instead, all of UHW's statewide officers were re-elected after a widely-publicized 16-day nomination period closed with no opposition. Also elected without opposition were 54 healthcare workers on UHW's Executive Board, who each represent regional constituencies of around 1,500 members. Elections for 16 contested seats on the Executive Board will be held Feb. 26.

"UHW members support our local leaders because they're accountable to us," said Joe Ruocco, a senior lab assistant at Western Medical Center-Anaheim. "And we want to keep fighting to reform SEIU so that members have the same kind of democracy and accountability in our national union."

UHW's constitution makes it easy to challenge elected leaders. Elections are held every three years, and any member in good standing can run for executive board by collecting just 50 signatures from other members who work near them. To run for president or other at-large office, a member must collect signatures of 60 members from any three of the union's four divisions -- just 180 out of UHW's 150,000 members.

In contrast, new local unions created by national SEIU officials often have rules that make it very difficult to unseat the national president's appointees. At SEIU Local 6434, run by Stern protege Tyrone Freeman, Stern approved election rules that required challengers to collect 4,800 signatures within three weeks. According to the Los Angeles Times, that requirement "made it nearly impossible for candidates not on his slate to qualify for the ballot," and is the subject of a U.S. Department of Labor investigation.

"Local union leaders should be accountable to the working people in California who elected them, not accountable to one union official in Washington, D.C. who appointed them," said JuanAntonio Molina, a homecare worker in San Francisco County. "UHW is a democracy from the bottom to the top, and we'll fight to keep it that way."

With more than 150,000 members, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the fastest-growing healthcare union in the United States. We represent healthcare workers in all job classifications and all healthcare settings, including hospitals, homecare, nursing homes and clinics. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. | www.seiu-uhw.org

Contact: Sadie Crabtree, 323-365-2083


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SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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