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DDAY #2 OF TRUSTEESHIP HEARING & PROTEST IN SAN MATEO

Note: At the beginning of the morning session, the hearing officer announced that there would be "no disruptive flash photographs" allowed at the hearing. As this is a common instruction at such events, we took this to mean that nondisruptive non-flash photos were OK, which is why you will see hearing photos on this page. We were later accosted by the sergeant at arms, who stated that no photographing was allowed, at which time we ceased to photograph..

 
  UHW field rep Josie Summers, MSJMC Rep. Chair Sherri Macias, John Borsos (UHW Northern California Director, Hospitals & Clinics), and Ellen Dillinger, UHW member, day #2 of hearings.

 
  SEIU maintained a security presence, including a sergeant at arms. To gain entrance to the hearing, members initially had to register before being given a badge, though later badges were available for the asking.

 
 

The hearing "on whether a trustee should be appointed at SEIU UHW under article VIII, section 7, of the SEIU Constitution:" The hearing officer, Ray Marshall, holder of an endowed chair in Economics & Public Affairs, University of Texas, sat center stage with attorneys for SEIU and UHW on opposite sides. UHW President Sal Rosselli made what was by all accounts a stirring speech at the start of the proceedings, then SEIU started their interrogation of witnesses, followed by UHW's reply.

At the end of the second day of hearings, members were allowed to make a two minute statement, which many did:

"Our union sends $25 million of our dues money to SEIU - We don't work for you, you work for us!" "Do what's best for our members - don't trustee UHW!" "This hearing is not about "Justice for All" - it's "Justice Not at All!" One member compared SEIU unfavorably to the British Raj in India during the last several centuries. A member from Bosnia said "I came from a country that is not free, and you (SEIU) are acting like them!" Another member reminded SEIU that it would be an easy sell to convince members how they could stop paying dues and COPE-- "This is a Pandora's box you're opening and you're not going to like it!" "This is no cigar club union! Don't sully the members you represent!" "Who's accountable for all the SEIU mailings & flyers against UHW and for all the SEIU attorneys here today? Where's Andy Stern -- he needs impeachment!" "Hear us! We pay your salary!"


 
 

The official rules of an event can sometimes make one lose sight of the fact that they are participating in a cartoon. On this occasion, we were to focus on whether UHW elected board members intended to use a 501 (c) (3) account for a purpose other than stated in their E-Board minutes. An earlier court case on this subject was thrown out.

The trusteeship hearing was conducted (using some of the millions in union dues that UHW must pay in yearly tribute to SEIU) at a time when Andy Stern protege Tyrone Freeman has been forced to step down as President of SEIU Local 6434 on corruption charges and is under investigation by the Labor Department. SEIU appointees Annelle Grajeda, Rickman Jackson, and others are also under investigation, and yet SEIU wants to focus on UHW and the intended use of a fund which all agree was never used for anyone's financial gain.

A person expected to see Wile E. Coyote running through the building at any moment....


 
 

The hearing building was hot and filled with UHW members furious at the attempted take-over of a union we have all helped to build. As one member said during an alloted 2 minute statement: "We're a union that acts on the saying that if you take one of us on, you take ALL of us on!"

The proceedings provoked many outbursts -- applause for the UHW team, boos and shouts of disgust for SEIU. Admonitions to be silent from the hearing officer reduced the volume, but did not stifle expressions of disapproval --- UHW members responded to hearing statements with a sea of waving arms and "member democracy" fans.


 
 

Bus captain Josie in a light moment at the end of the day...

On the ride back to Sacramento, plans for the upcoming state-wide strike on 34 CHW hospitals were discussed and questions answered.

The trip was lengthened by a bus breakdown, but after a short period of dismay, we were on the road again (different bus), entertained by "Tales of a Bus Driver," elicited by the encouraging comments of provocateurs Josie and Sherri. The combination of events reduced some (and I include myself) to a state of hysterical laughter.


 

Conclusion: Although the trusteeship hearing was insulting and wasteful of time, resources and good will, the ability of our union to inspire thousands of members to come to UHW's defense from all over the state was truly impressive. Also impressive were the logistics of gathering and caring for such a huge group of people. A great organizing and educating effort was made, and it really showed what a union is supposed to be about. How sad that this great positive force had to be spent defending against SEIU rather than used to promote universal healthcare or further Obama's political campaign!

So what's next? Those of us riding the bus were not able to remain for the conclusion of the hearing, but it was announced earlier that an additional session would be held, probably after the national election in November.. We'll be there!.C

   
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