Roving bands of Service Employee International Union staff showed up on the home doorsteps of leaders of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Association Thursday, harassing and verbally threatening them in a disgraceful escalation of SEIU International's campaign against CNA/NNOC.
Notably, the attacks focused on women leaders forced to confront squads of shouting, screaming people in an obvious attempt to intimidate and coerce our leaders into stopping our critique of the increasingly pro-corporate bent of SEIU International and its President Andrew Stern.
SEIU and its well paid army of defenders has gone to great lengths to present itself as a "progressive" union. Stern personally has been embraced by the corporate media and CEOs as the new face of a modern labor movement.
But in what world is stalking women in their homes and at nursing stations where they work a hallmark of a "progressive" union?
For that matter, how do you characterize deals with big employers that compromise public protections and patient safety standards and undermine your own union members' rights, as "progressive" or a laudable new direction for labor?
Thursday afternoon, CNA/NNOC Board member Margie Keenan, RN was home alone when she peered out her window to see four SEIU staff. When they saw her they started "screaming and trying to scare me" Kennan explained. She later learned that SEIU staff had first gone to her nursing unit in a Long Beach, Ca. hospital trying to find her.
A second CNA/NNOC Board member Debbie Cuaresma, RN found five young SEIU staff show up at her house taunting and yelling first at her, then at her daughter. "I am appalled that five bullies would come to my house with cameras and hurl abuse at my daughter. I believe this to be nothing less than a violation of my family's privacy," she says.
Even where two unions have some well chronicled differences, is this acceptable or moral behavior? Stern should immediately renounce the actions of his staff and cease and desist these despicable attacks against anyone who speaks out against his pro-corporate agenda.
These attacks continue a pattern of SEIU's paternalistic attitude toward a predominantly female workforce, and actions that portray women as chattel in deals he has signed, as SEIU's property because the union spent millions of dollars on a corporate campaign.
In Ohio, the subject of much debate, CNA/NNOC opposed a backroom deal SEIU signed with a Catholic hospital chain, after one such corporate campaign, under which the employer filed for an election without a single signed union card from RNs or other employees and even barring the employees from discussing the vote. The employer and SEIU cancelled the election when their shoddy deal was exposed and it was apparent they had only minimal support from those employees SEIU was purporting to represent.
What nearly occurred in Ohio was a shotgun wedding arranged by a paternalistic employer and a paternalistic union in which women are objects of trade rather than having a full and equal voice in their self-determination.
CNA/NNOC will not stand by while Stern and company threaten our leaders or staff, we will not allow them to force registered nurses into their union, and we will continue to speak out against their practices of discarding patient safety all so they can boost their bragging rights about how many members they've unionized.
There are numerous examples of such behavior. One of the most egregious is deals SEIU International has signed with corporate nursing home chains in California and Washington state.
Under a 2003 pact in California, SEIU agreed to oppose legislation requiring nursing homes to provide enough staff to keep patients safe and healthy, and to not report health care violations to state regulators except in extreme cases when required by law.
Five years later, according to a report cited in the Los Angeles Times this week, despite increased state funding for nursing homes, the direct result of SEIU lobbying, nursing homes are spending less in California on direct patient care, and reports of patient mistreatment have shot up.
Similarly, in partnership with hospital corporations, SEIU lobbied in California against the RN-to-patient minimum ratio law, and worked to erode the law after it was enacted.
In New York, SEIU joined with the Greater New York Hospital Association in supporting the closure of more than a dozen hospitals and nursing homes, proudly issuing a joint statement that "We are surely the only hospital association and health-care workers union in the history of the United States to support a process that could lead to the downsizing of our own industry."
For more information about SEIU's efforts on behalf of employers, see our new website, www.ServingEmployersInsteadofUs.org.
Follow Deborah Burger on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NationalNurses