SEIU-UHW vs. NUHW Trial Day 5: "A look behind the scenes....HELP...Somebody Call Security!"

05/26/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

SEIU-UHW (Service Employees International Union/United Healthcare Workers West) vs. NUHW (National Union of Healthcare Workers)
Trial: DAY 5- March 26, 2010

Behind the scenes in the illustrious city of San Francisco, drama and secrecy continued to unfold in the Federal Courtroom of Judge William Alsup as the case of SEIU-UHW against NUHW continued today.

Leon Chow, a witness for SEIU-UHW continued to testify with utmost knowledge, stability, and certainty. Cross-examined by NUHW Attorney Siegel, the saga unfolded of what actually took place under the former UHW leadership of Sal Rosselli and company.

During a Senior Staff meeting (including the secret "Shakers and Makers" group) on Jan. 8, 2009 a template was shown in planning to petition for disaffiliation from SEIU. Mr. Chow reiterated how Sal Rosselli instructed the group that it would not be appropriate for the Executive Board members to do the action; however, it would be appropriate to delegate to staff to circulate amongst regular rank and file members - in which afterwards, the E-Board members can draft a letter and send it to the attention of Andy Stern at the International. Sal stated to the group that per the Constitution and Bylaws it would only take seven opposing members to block it.

The day after the Senior Staff meeting, during the Executive Board meeting on Jan. 9, 2009 - in the presence of outside consultant "Jonathan Siegel" (brother of NUHW Counsel/Attorney Dan Siegel) the E-Board members adopted the motion to send a letter to Mr. Stern. Did either defendant John Borsos or Sal Rosselli tell the E-Board members that the day before disaffiliation letters had been circulated to the Senior Staff and Shakers and Makers? NO!!! Sal brought the resolution only which was approved by the E-Board.

Where did all of our time go, rather than taking care of our members issues? ... Well, this one might sound familiar to you...

Mr. Chow also mentioned how his Home Care Division staff spent 90-95% of their time in January 2009 fighting SEIU, gathering data, and placing the information in an outside (undetectable) database communications system - not representing members.

OMG!!! ...These outside secret systems are becoming more and more familiar as the trial goes on....

Oh, but the saga continues...So grab a cup of coffee, your favorite snack and have a seat...

The day after the trusteeship on Jan. 28, 2009, Mr. Chow met with Sal Rosselli at the Oakland Marriott Hotel along with approximately 30 staff and E-Board members. Discussion took place regarding employment at SEIU and the name of the new union. Sal announced that the name would be NUHW ("National Union of Healthcare Workers" or "New UHW"). The name was never voted on. Mr. Chow stated the "Sal told us that we all got fired - but to get a better chance to apply for unemployment, Jonathan Siegel has been kind enough to draft a letter of resignation for all to sign...".

Following was a "Legal Advice for Staff" sent by John Borsos with Sal Rosselli cc:'d. The memo generally stated that if staff was found to be insubordinate, there would be little chance of unemployment. If they followed recommendations and resigned their positions using the letter drafted by Siegel, they would stand a better chance for unemployment. Also, Sal had no discussion with the group of going to court to challenge the trusteeship legally.

With a new trick up his sleeve, the NUHW attorney again failed at trying to convince Mr. Chow that "telephone tree" lists had been circulated outside of the union office with his knowledge and consent. Mr. Chow, upon reviewing a list shown on the power point screen, educated the counsel that "telephone tree member contacts were always done from the union office from a list unlike that of the one shown...the one that is used at the office has bar codes on them for easy data entry..." Oh, well - I guess - "try, try, and try again!!!"

Our witness, SEIU-UHW Trustee, Eliseo Vasquez Medina was brief and to the point. What was most interesting is his background as he joined the UFW (United Farm Workers) union back in 1965 (when he was a teenager) which was run by Cesar Chavez at the time. He spoke of how after continuously trying to get cooperation from Sal Rosselli and company with respect to the IEB (International Executive Board) decision to merge the LTCW (Long Term Care Workers), the effort was met with resistance. A meeting request was sent to all three locals involved to plan for implementation, including SEIU locals: UHW, L521, and L6434 - in which all responded in compliance with the exception of UHW.

Then the "truth came to light" Union vs. Gang mentality...

As SEIU-UHW witness Rasheda Anthony took the stand, we had no idea what we were in store for. She served as manager for a temporary office in Alameda. Security had been hired as Ms. Anthony testified that it was not unusual for NUHW supporters to rally outside of the office, both that one as well as others in California. On this particular day, Jan. 20, 2009, a group led by Glenn Goldstein, John Vellardita, and Gabe Kristal stormed the office. "There had previously been groups of people before, but this one became violent" she stated. As the mob stampeded over the front door, the security officer fell to the floor and placed himself in a fetal position while protecting his head. Immediately, Ms. Anthony called 911. There were Policy and Procedure binders with staff contact information in case of emergency. As she attempted to pick up some papers and then proceeded to get the P & P binder, Mr. Goldstein stated to her "don't do this." She replied back to him "Glenn you don't do this" as she wasn't sure what he was talking about. She testified "He then snatched the papers out of my hand, and Gabe Crystal came from behind and grabbed and pushed me up against the desk...then I heard someone say get off of her... then heard the group started chanting WE'LL BE BACK, WE'LL BE BACK" !!! There were 30-50 people and Ms. Anthony was scared, confused and was shaking. She reported the incident to the police and informed her director as well.

With three daughters, she had to stay in a hotel after that as she realized after the mob was gone that the staff contact list was missing. Her hotel stay was met with flyers placed under her door, of which on at least one occasion the flyer had a "rat" on it stating GO AWAY, YOU'RE NOT WELCOMED!

Well, more to come as "Life in the Secret Island" continues...

Erica Boddie.