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Web Letter

When it comes to SEIU and Andy Stern, The Nation is afraid to speak truth to power. In editorials and articles, you continue to treat SEIU as a legitimate labor union and Stern as a legitimate labor leader. SEIU can no longer be considered a real labor union. The widespread corruption, SEIU's anti-democratic structure and Stern's dictatorial style have resulted in a situation where a large part of the union is effectively in trusteeship, denying SEIU members the right to elect their local leaders and an effective voice in the running of the union. Almost all 600,000 SEIU members in California are in locals under trusteeship for corruption (Local 6434), speaking out against corruption (UHW West), or in locals unilaterally merged by Stern over two years ago whose leaders are Stern appointees and where there's yet to be an election scheduled (Locals 221, 521, 721 and 1021), or in locals whose leaders are entrenched Stern appointed loyalists (local 1877).

Coming on the heels of the UHW trusteeship and the blocking of the upstart National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) election petitions, Stern's most recent outrage, an effective annexation of UNITE and a despicable raid on HERE, should be the cause of loud public condemnation by labor leaders and pro-labor progressives. Instead, the silence is deafening. Silence equals complicity. Under US and International law, workers have the right to choose their own union and, by their actions, Stern and SEIU are violating that right.

Employee Free Choice is not only the right to join a union, but the right to choose which union. The CNA-SEIU pact is an odd one in that Stern's brand of corporatist, corrupt, top-down unionism is fundamentally incompatible with the CNA's tradition of militancy and support for single payer. CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro has made some some very strong (and accurate) criticisms of Stern, but the most telling and truthful is that Stern is a scab. Stern's battle with the new National Union of Healthcare Workers is what forced him to settle with CNA on the CNA's terms. The CNA-SEIU deal will hold until Stern sees an advantage to himself in breaking it. DeMoro is smart and is likely already prepared for it.

So, when will the Nation stop being a fig leaf for SEIU and Stern, and start standing up for workers' rights?

Charlie Ridgell

Oakland, CA

Mar 28 2009 - 9:42am