Breaking News: SEIU Boss to S.F. Health Care Workers -- Accept My Ultimatim, Or I'll Destroy You

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Andy Stern, boss of the two-million-member Service Employees International Union, sent an ultimatum Thursday to California health care workers ordering them to accept a deal critics say will undermine the rights of elderly nursing home patients.

The ultimatum comes after Stern claimed last fall that the Bay Area-based SEIU affiliate United Healthcare Workers West had misused union dues. Sal Rosselli, the affiliate's president, called the charges a sham and said Stern's concern wasn't financial impropriety, but rather the affiliate's refusal to go along with a clandestine deal Stern had cut with owners of for-profit nursing home chains.

The U.S. labor movement has been on tenterhooks during the past week as rumors flew that UHW-West's Oakland offices might at any moment be taken over by Stern's operatives.

The conflict between labor leaders Stern and Rosselli began five years ago, when SF Weekly uncovered a secret deal in which the SEIU lobbyists would seek legislation discouraging nursing home patients and their families from suing for negligence. In exchange for supporting this industry-backed measure, the union obtained the right to organize certain nursing homes under management-approved template contracts. In a subsequent story, SF Weekly revealed that these contracts included provisions prohibiting the union from speaking out against patient neglect or abuse.

Advocates for nursing home patients referred to the deal as an "unholy alliance," crafted to auction patients' rights to the highest bidder. Subsequently, SF Weekly obtained internal memos showing that Rosselli was uncomfortable with the deal.

After SF Weekly stories describing Rosselli's criticism of the bargian, Stern moved to transfer 60,000 nursing home workers out of the Rosselli-led affiliate, to one controlled by a Stern-picked leader amenable to the nursing home industry deal.

The subsequent war of words between Rosselli and Stern have been the subject of national headlines during the past two years. Thursday afternoon, Stern's office sent out a press release announcing that the Bay Area affiliate would be given five days to comply with a list of demands stemming from alleged financial improprieties. The press release follows:

WASHINGTON, DC--In his Report and Recommendations issued last
night to the International President on the trusteeship matter
involving United Healthcare Workers - West ("UHW" or "UHW-W"),
former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall, the outside hearing
officer, found that "Leaders of the UHW did engage in financial
malpractice and undermined democratic procedures..." and there
are grounds for trusteeship.

Accordingly, Secretary Marshall recommends "that a trustee be
appointed at UHW-W if that organization fails to comply with the
following conditions [provided below]." After reviewing the
recommendations, the International Executive Board (IEB)
unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the report's
recommendations and authorizing the International President to
impose a trusteeship upon UHW-W if the following conditions,
laid out by Marshall, are not met:

1. "Within 5 days of receiving my report and the decision of the
International Executive Board, UHW-W must confirm in writing to
the International President and me that UHW-W will abide by the
International Executive Board's decision on long-term care in
California, will fully cooperate with the implementation of that
decision and will not use any UHW-W resources to undermine or
interfere with the implementation of the decision."

2. "Thereafter, UHW-W must continue to abide by the
International Executive Board's decision on long-term care in
California, fully cooperate with the implementation of that
decision and not use any UHW-W resources to undermine and
interfere with the implementation of the decision."

3. "Within one week of receiving my report and the decision of
the International Executive Board, UHW-W must mail to all of its
members, post on its website and bulletin boards a copy of my
report and the decision of the International Executive Board."

4. "To the extent possible, UHW-W must purge its database to the
satisfaction of the International President of all of the names
which came from the International Union's Convention database."

5. "UHW-W must cooperate fully with the monitor appointed by the
International President to review in advance all expenditures of
UHW-W."

6. "UHW-W must abide by the International Union Constitution and
Bylaws and all of the orders of the International President and
the International Executive Board rendered pursuant to the
Constitution and Bylaws."

"If these conditions are not fully complied with," Secretary
Marshall "recommend[s] that a trusteeship be imposed on UHW-W."

Secretary Marshall's conditions were set after his report laid
out the following findings on prohibited actions taken by UHW-W
Leadership.

* Secretary Marshall found that "Leaders of the UHW did engage
in financial malpractice and undermined democratic procedures
when they transferred UHW funds to a nonprofit organization to
be used in contests with the International Union."

* Secretary Marshall found that "UHW's leaders wrongfully
converted the International Union Convention delegate database,
and hid from the International the movement of $500,000 to an
attorney's trust account to fund contests with the International
Union."

* Secretary Marshall found that "this [trusteeship] hearing and
the [International Executive Board's] jurisdiction decisions
were not initiated to retaliate against the UHW for its
aggressive criticisms of International leaders' policies and
strategies."

* Secretary Marshall found that "the International President had
reason to believe that a trusteeship hearing was necessary to
protect the SEIU and UHW membership."

* Secretary Marshall found that "no democratic labor
organization can permit local unions to nullify International
decisions reached through the democratic processes specified in
their Constitution and Bylaws."

The International Executive Board reviewed and debated the
Secretary Marshall's Report and Recommendations at its meeting
today. They unanimously adopted a formal resolution endorsing
the report and recommendations, and they authorized the
International President to impose a trusteeship upon UHW-W if
the conditions are not met. SEIU leaders believe this is a
moment of history to change this country, and we believe this
decision offers an opportunity to join together everyone in SEIU
to change America. The Board's resolution and Secretary
Marshall's full report are available at
http://www.facts-online.org/ct/p7rbT9d1juF7/strongertogether


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