How is SEIU pissing off every other labor union in the United States?
January 10, 2010 5:49 PM   Subscribe

[Labor union filter] U.S. labor unions are fighting, and most opinions point to SEIU as the bad guy in a couple specific conflicts - that between SEIU and UNITE HERE, and that between SEIU/UHW and the NUHW. I think I agree that SEIU is the aggressor, but I can't find enough information to really decide. Please tell me what is going on between SEIU, UNITE HERE, and NUHW.

The specifics questions are as follows:

1) What is the current dispute between SEIU and UNITE HERE, which resulted in the creation of a "front" union called Workers United, which is affiliated with SEIU?

2) What is the current dispute between SEIU and NUHW, and what exactly were the origins of this fight, beginning in Oakland during the last couple of years?

I'm interested in anything you've got, including criticisms of both SEIU and the unions they are fighting. Unbiased opinions are great. Biased opinions are great, but I'd like to know the nature of your bias to the extent that you're comfortable revealing it. If you've just got historical details, particularly going back to the creation of Change to Win, that's great too.

And please, any links you can find to newspaper articles, court documents, or other online sources that might provide useful information. I'd even read a particularly illuminating post at the Perez Stern website, if they exist.

Thanks. This is really bothering me.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm a former organizer from one of the organizations you mentioned, having worked in NorCal and SoCal. I'm not blaming any organization, but do have an explanation of the above.

PM me if you want an explanation from my view. I'm kinda shy to put it up here because even though we're fighty, we're still family...and I don't want to make family shit public enough for people to take out of context...you know, foxnews-style.

Thats all.

And by the by...no matter what, you aren't going to get an unbiased view from ANYBODY regarding anything related to labor unions.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:59 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


And by the by...no matter what, you aren't going to get an unbiased view from ANYBODY regarding anything related to labor unions.


That's the truth! I have a close family member who works for yet another union the SEIU is feudin' with, and just the name SEIU makes him start spitting and getting all red in the face - his union's feeling is that SEIU is overly aggressive towards other unions. And it's true that the SEIU gets into all these fights, but then there's the argument on the other side that these fights happen because the SEIU is the iconoclast union fighting against deeply entrenched interests that don't really serve The American Worker.

So...yeah, those are the broad-brush arguments pro- and con-SEIU.
posted by lunasol at 7:24 PM on January 10, 2010


There are certainly legitimate criticisms of SEIU. That said, I'd urge you to take them with a grain of salt and not to look for a pure-right and a pure-wrong in this situation. The bottomline from my perspective in both those battles is that the heads of all 3 unions are putting their egos ahead of the interests of workers, something that will hopefully end soon.

SEIU is the largest and fastest growing union in the country and, from my perspective, that has created some jealousy among other unions who can't seem to organize worth shit.
posted by stewieandthedude at 7:28 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


As you can see from the responses so far, you will have a hard time getting much (non-anonymous) criticism of either side in such a public forum.
I'm not sure what information you've already found, but here are some starting points:
SEIU/Workers United vs UNITE HERE: Divorce Union Style, Labor Notes article.
You'll have better luck searching if you note that this was not initially a fight between SEIU and UNITE-HERE but between the UNITE and HERE sides of the merged union.

SEIU vs NUHW Labor Notes, Beyond Chron.

As you look into this, you will see that there are some big personalities involved -it's never as simple as figuring out who is the aggressor.
posted by cushie at 8:49 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


My bias is that I am a UNITE HERE organizer, in the thick of it. The fight playing out in both cases, UNITE HERE and NUHW, is fundamentally about the the same question: is growth worth a tradeoff of standards (wages, benefits), power and democracy? Here are 2 summaries. I can provide a lot more if you are interested. SEIU's growth is based on mostly mergers and acquisitions, not rank and file organizing, which is why they are losing the above mentioned fights they're in. Both NUHW and UNITE HERE, while not perfect, are built around solid cultures of organizing with a genuinely engaged membership. The fact that the majority of the US labor movement is opposed to SEIUs actions should be telling.
posted by Unioncat at 9:02 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jumping in late here, but if you didn't get a satisfactory answer to this question, please feel free to PM me. Like the commenter above, I'm reluctant to spread inside dirt all over the tubes but happy to help clarify the situation for anyone interested. Especially since a few months have passed. I've worked for organized labor, including SEIU, for some time now.
posted by willie11 at 1:41 PM on April 14, 2010


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