Thousands of UHW members have turned in forms to stop their automatic deductions over the past few weeks, and SEIU are panicking and running to bosses for help. Perez has reports from all over on SEIU's desperate attempts to keep the money flowing.
CHW hospital workers can expect to receive the following trickily worded SEIU letter (the emphasis is Perez's)...
Dear SEIU UHW Member at CHW:
We have received notice that a form was submitted to your employer instructing CHW to cease deducting union dues. Since a number of members have told us that they were misinformed as to the purpose of the form, we write to give you the opportunity to rescind this action.
To build a strong union, your elected bargaining committee has always fought for and won a union membership clause in your contract. This clause provides: "During the life of this Agreement, employees of the Employer who are subject to this Agreement shall be required as a condition of employment to maintain membership in the Union in good standing, subject to federal law."
Any employee who cancels dues deduction will still be required to meet the obligations set out in this provision. A union membership clause, often called union security, is a standard provision of union contracts across California. UHW has always fought for and enforced these provisions to build and maintain a strong union.
Only union members in good standing have the right to vote on stewards and bargaining committee members, to vote on contract ratification, and to serve as union representatives such as stewards.
We urge you to cancel your dues revocation and return to your status as a member in good standing by using the form enclosed with this letter. Payroll deduction is the most convenient way to meet your obligations under the union security provision.
Here are additional facts worth considering:
+ Your SEIU UHW contract at CHW is in effect until 2012.
+ Your elected rank-and-file bargaining team is negotiating with CHW over retirement and collateral pay. A united membership increases your bargaining team's ability to win.
+ When your committee reaches a settlement on retirement and collateral pay, the settlement will come before the membership for ratification. If you revoke your membership, you give up your vote.
+ SEIU UHW is your legally recognized union at CHW, and no other union can represent employees in your bargaining unit.
We look forward to working with you for improved retirement security for CHW workers, and to win healthcare for all in this country.
Eliseo Medina, Trustee, SEIU UHW, Dave Regan, Trustee, SEIU UHW
At Western Medical Center Anaheim, workers had to file a grievance to force their employer to honor their requests to stop deductions. Here's the response, which came Tuesday...
This is in response to the class action grievance filed on March 12, 2009, in the above matter.
After carefully reviewing this matter, this is to advise you that Western Medical Center Anaheim (“WMCA”) and Coastal Communities Hospital (“CCH”) will honor the dues revocation forms and will cease deducting dues from the paychecks of those employees for whom you submitted revocation forms. See attached lists.
As you know, the current CBA covering WMCA and CCH contains a union security provision, which requires employees to pay dues as a condition of employment. As a result, employees continue to be obligated to pay dues notwithstanding your submission of dues revocation forms on their behalf. We assume that you have reminded employees of their dues obligations under the union security provision of the CBA.
While at Kaiser Walnut Creek, they're still waiting...
"Four people in my office (myself included) submitted ours over a month ago, yet dues deducted again from the check dated 4/3/08. Hearing the same thing from a couple of others. Will be mailing second request Certified Mail RRR."
But the message from scab SEIU staff in the hospitals is much blunter - "If you stop paying dues you could be fired." And at at least some Kaiser hospitals, Perez heard HR are directing workers who've submitted a paper revocation form to a website to complete the request. The website requires employees to confirm that they understand Kaiser will fire them if SEIU request they be fired for non payment of dues.
So while Perez doesn't usually do public service announcements, let's try to clear this one up!
There are two separate things here that SEIU are trying to pretend are one and the same:
First there's the union security clause - Where possible, strong unions negotiate a section of each contract that says essentially what Dave and Eliseo say it does:
"During the life of this Agreement, employees of the Employer who are subject to this Agreement shall be required as a condition of employment to maintain membership in the Union in good standing, subject to federal law."
That means that (with some exceptions and technicalities) you need to be a union member to work at the facility. You show that you are a member primarily by paying union dues. The clause has several real benefits for workers, including that their employer can't force out union members and replace them with non union workers as a way to bust the union.
And then there's automatic dues deduction - That's another section of the union contract, but this one just means that the employer agrees to collect dues each pay period or month, and send them to the union in a lump sum. It's a major convenience to workers and to union stewards and staff, who don't have to go through the hassle of collecting dues each month, and it helps the union to budget and plan.
But you have no obligation at all to have your dues come out of your check. Think of it like a utility bill; you can make automatic payments, or just get a bill in the mail, either way you are still a paying customer. That's why some members are sending SEIU letters that say "I'm not stopping my dues, just the automatic deduction. Bill me!"
SEIU want to scare workers out of stopping the paycheck deductions because they know how hard it will be for them to collect the money. They're understaffed as it is, with their scabs leaving Californiraq in droves, the last thing they want is to try to collect dues by hand, and they know stewards won't help them!
Hal Ruddick freaked out last week and vented to a member about how hard it would be for SEIU. "But you don't understand" he said "we're not set up to do that, we don't have the staff, it would be impossible." The worker, tired of paying Hal to bust her union, absolutely DID understand!