September 5 & 6, 2008:The UHW-w Leadership Conference in San Jose, CA marshalls union members in a fight for the union's mission and principles.
  The UHW-w Leadership Conference is always educational, inspiring and fun, but this year, a fight against SEIU to restore union democracy added a more militant tone to the event. SEIU's response to opposition from member unions is more typical of a dictatorship than a democracy: SEIU is threatening to place UHW-w in trusteeship, dismiss our elected union officials, and appoint SEIU cronies in their stead.


UHW-w members gathered outside the San Jose Convention Center for a march to South Hall. An estimated 2,000 members attended the conference with many more arriving by bus on September 6 to march in support of UHW-w. Our bus was one of two from Sacramento, filled with mostly Hmong Long Term Care workers. They would be merged out of our union (the one they voted to be in) and into another union if SEIU's plans succeed.


SEIU Local 1000 members Donna Snodgrass (CSEA V.P.) and Ed Perez (a leader of S.M.A.R.T.) join UHW-w members at the Convention Center. The Local 1000 members represent a growing movement within various SEIU unions to bring democratic reform to SEIU.

S.M.A.R.T. (SEIU Member Activists For Reform Today) can be reached at http://www.reformseiu.org

  "This is what you call solidarity!" UHW-w member Beverly Griffith rallying union activists before the march through the streets to South Hall.


UHW-w marchers filled the streets for blocks. The signs reading "Healthcare Workers: Stronger Together" are a response to SEIU President Andy Stern's plan to separate Long Term Healthcare workers from Hospital Healthcare workers and merge the various Long Term Care locals into one SEIU Long Term Care workers union.

UHW-w believes all healthcare workers will be stronger in one big healthcare workers union.

  Nick Stanley, UHW-w shop steward and MGH employee, prepares for the march to South Hall with food, water, and a page of inspiring slogans.


"Our union is at a critical moment: SEIU wants to control our union and make deals with employers. We have been working for decades to join 75,000 workers in bargaining a contract together. Our union power comes not from collecting dues or from personal relationships with employer CEO's, but from being united! We need to get involved more than ever before. Go back to your facilities and organize!" -- Jorge Rodriquez, UHW-w Executive VP.

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