SEIU Watch

by | May 27, 2010 | Labor Relations Ink, News

Even with the controversial Andy Stern stepping aside, the SEIU is still more exciting to watch than a good Fourth of July fireworks display. Probably the biggest online media splash was caused by their terrorization of a 14-year-old boy in a weekend assault on a private residence. The aim of what’s been called a “Ku Klux Klan”-style rally was to intimidate Greg Baer, a senior Bank of America executive, and make him an example to all those who might oppose the Democrats’ new finance bill now headed for conference with the House and Senate. Although 14 bus loads of SEIU and National Political Action activists totaling around 500 people engaged in a non-permitted and illegally executed protest, they were escorted to the event by D.C. Metro police! Of course, mainstream media has been totally quiet about the assault. Unfortunately for the protesters, Greg Baer’s next-door neighbor is Fortune journalist Nina Easton. Knowing that Baer’s 14-year-old son was alone in the house, she called to check on him, and subsequently called the police. The assault intimidated even the law officers who responded (adding to the D.C. cops already on the scene), who were afraid arrests might “incite” the mob. Easton’s take:

Targeting homes and families seems to put SEIU in the ranks of (now jailed) radical animal-rights activists and the Kansas anti-gay fundamentalists harassing the grieving parents of a dead 20-year-old soldier at his funeral (the Supreme Court has agreed to weigh in on the latter). But that’s not a conversation that SEIU officials want to have. When I asked Stephen Lerner, SEIU’s point-person on Wall Street reform, about these tactics, he accused me of getting “emotional…” SEIU has said it wants to organize bank tellers and call centers — and its critics point out that a great way to worsen employee morale, thereby making workers more susceptible to union calls, is to batter a bank’s image through protest. (SEIU officials say their anti-Wall Street campaign has nothing to do with their organizing efforts.) Complicating this picture is the fact that BofA is the union’s lender of choice — and SEIU, suffering financially, owes the bank nearly $4 million in interest and fees.

Andrea Tantaros of FOX News said this about the assault:

These protests, the ones storming Wall Street bank lobbies and now the private homes of bankers, are likely being carefully coordinated with the White House to increase their profile against the financial fat cats and help pass disgraced Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd’s financial regulatory bill.

Tantaros concludes:

Unsurprisingly, the SEIU has made no apology for their behavior toward Baer’s family. Their spokespeople argue that the protest was over home foreclosures under Bank of America’s watch, but that still doesn’t give them the right to break the law. It also doesn’t allow them a carve out like they demanded in the health care bill for their costly Cadillac insurance plans. It’s absurd that in a recession, the unions feel they deserve special treatment because they are connected to the party in power… We now know, there is nothing they won’t do, nobody the unions won’t intimidate. And the president, who promised to preside over an administration free from special interest influence, should be held accountable. As long as we continue to feed the unions, the country will continue to decline. It’s time to stand up to this behavior with the same muscle they’ve used to bully our country all these years and send a message loud and clear: we will not be intimidated.

SEIU is not afraid to throw their muscle around, or withhold it in the pursuit of their objectives. Mary Kay Henry, the new SEIU head, announced that her union would not support Democrat Blanche Lincoln in her bid for re-election to the Senate. Instead they spent millions on her primary opponent and have vowed millions more in the upcoming runoff election. All this due to her stands on EFCA and health care reform. SEIU had already announced its intention to start a third party in North Carolina as an effort to make democrat lawmakers more “reliable on issues.” Three North Carolina lawmakers voted against health care reform – the most of any state. SEIU is still in “ramping up” mode on the organizing front, as evidenced by announcements to take on the fast-food industry which we mentioned earlier, and this advertisement for paid organizers. Although attempting to present a strong external front, SEIU faces turmoil internally. A judicially-sanctioned panel has found SEIU VP Bruce Raynor guilty of accepting a salary from UNITE HERE while working actively to deprive his union of bargaining rights in favor of a competing union – the same behavior that SEIU found so wrongful that it spent over $10 million to punish NUHW in a lawsuit. Henry will either move to remove Raynor, or “expose SEIU’s new ethical standards is a joke and SEIU’s legal and public relations campaign against NUHW as a hoax.” The battle between UNITE HERE and SEIU continues despite Henry’s recent hints at movement toward a settlement. According to John Wilhelm, head of UNITE HERE, “there is settling and there is settling on fair terms,” as he decried SEIU’s treatment of the ILGWU retirees’ claims as a “disgrace to the union.” The ILGWU was a former SEIU affiliate, now affiliated with UNITE HERE.



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