Tuesday, March 24

SEIU: Now with 50% less talent and principles!

SEIU continues to hemorrhage talented experienced staff who care about our union movement. The senior organizer who wrote this resigned last Friday...

All:

On my last day at SEIU I want to take this moment to say goodbye and thank you all.

I have really enjoyed working with so many of you, both at locals and at the international. I am leaving to take on opportunities at the RWDSU here in New York. While I am excited about this opportunity, I will miss many of you. Please keep in touch.

Below is the resignation letter that I sent to Andy Stern. I thought long and hard about whether or not to share this letter broadly and ultimately decided that I want to be very clear about why I am leaving SEIU. I wish luck to all of you, and I hope that you will be able to do your part in making this union an effective and democratic organization for our members.

If there are outstanding questions on any Free Choice work, please contact xxxxxx, and any outstanding nursing home or assisted living questions should go to xxxxxx.

Best,
Audra

-------------------

Andy:

Today is my last day at SEIU. I can't tell you how disappointing it was for me to decide to leave. I have been helping health care workers join our union, first at Local 250/UHW and then at the International, for over 7 years. For the most part it has been a job that inspired me everyday. I have never been so challenged in my life.

Last week, in my last meaningful task at SEIU I spent the week in DC working with members who were in town to talk to their congressional reps about the Free Choice act. It was absolutely the best of what SEIU is and can be. Member leaders articulated both why the union is good and why the current process to get a union is not only undemocratic but gives the power to one or two men who happen to be the boss. What was going on at that conference was in sharp contrast to what you and the other leaders of this union were doing at that same time in California (UHW, et al), keeping corrupt leaders on staff (Rickman Jackson, Annelle Grajeda) but laying off the union's organizers, and most alarmingly interfering in UNITE/HERE's internal struggles. You are not a CEO and unions do not pull hostile takeovers on each other.

The biggest struggle in labor is the tension between organizing on scale with huge employers and remaining democratic and meaningful organizations for our members. These are not either/or's. In fact, many local unions in SEIU have been successful in that quest, including UHW. As you know, I was on staff there for nearly 5 years and of course part of my reaction is emotional, and if you knew the talent you were casting out, yours would be too. More than that, I am appalled that your answer to UHW's critique is to destroy the local. Not only is that a ridiculous reaction, it is also a terrible use of resources. 91,000 workers so far have filed petitions to decertify SEIU. We are spending all of our time meddling in other union's internal politics (CNA, UNITE/HERE), trying to destroy what once was among the most functional local in the country, and we are not planning meaningful organizing in Healthcare. No wonder we are laying off those organizers, we're apparently out of the business of organizing workers.

I know that I am not the only staff member leaving SEIU, whether by choice or by lay off. There is a terrible morale problem here. So many of our staff have put their lives on hold to organize workers into this union, and well they should. But can you imagine living in hotels, going home once or twice a month and having no control over your schedule--for what? To ask the boss to fire UHW stewards? Or to ask nurses to run against their elected leadership? Or, is it to try to decertify some of this country's best union hotels in Las Vegas?

Most of us, the best of us, come to this work to push people into taking power back at their workplace and in their lives. We have done too little of that recently. SEIU will lose many good staff in this period, and the union will suffer for it. I can not say enough how wonderful so many of the SEIU staff are. I have learned so much from working with so many of them. They and our members deserve better than this.

Ultimately, I will put my trust into our members; I urge them to hold their local and national leaders accountable. We all desperately need them to do that.

Audra Makuch
Campaign Coordinator

What is Perez Stern?

SEIU staff and officers think they can hide in the dark. Already in their hostile takeover of UHW they've injured members, held boss-style captive audience meetings for staff, and refused to give us their names.

Andy Stern and his appointees love to think they're rich, famous, powerful, and accountable to no one. A member led union just doesn't fit in with their plans for stardom! They like to drive around in SUVs with tinted windows, acting like they (literally) own the place.

So if they want to be famous, let's help them! If you're an SEIU member or employee, tell Perez what the SEIU trustees and appointees are up to, and help them feel just like Paris Hilton.

If you have a story or pictures for Perez, email him at perezstern@gmail.com We promise to respect your anonymity, but we encourage you to use your real name if you can.

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