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United Health Workers Disciplinary Charges Against Stern Re McGuire

United Health Workers Disciplinary Charges Against Stern Re McGuire

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Published by: Legal Insurrection on Jan 09, 2010
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By having engaged in the conduct set forth herein, Andrew L. Stern and Anna Burger, Presidentand Secretary-Treasurer, respectively, of the Service Employees International Union, are herebycharged with violating Article XVII, Section 1, Paragraphs 2-7 and 11 of the SEIU Constitution.The conduct described below is part of SEIU’s punitive campaign of retribution directed againstUHW and its democratically elected officers and members for exercising their free speech rightsguaranteed under Title I of the LMRDA, as well as the SEIU Constitution. It is intended tosilence not only their voices, but the voices of other SEIU members who might dare to join withthem in criticizing the policies of, and actions by, SEIU’s top leaders.The charges of misconduct against Stern and Burger can be summarized as follows: (1) seekingto carry out a trusteeship of UHW for political purposes and in violation of requirements set outin federal law and in SEIU’s Constitution; (2) spreading lies and negative propaganda aboutUHW’s elected leaders among UHW members in order to deliberately undermine members’confidence and trust in their elected leaders, while also disseminating that same propagandawidely throughout the entire SEIU in order to remind all members and officers of the potentialconsequences of crossing Stern and/or Burger; (3) collaborating with anti-union employers toundermine UHW’s organizing and collective bargaining efforts, thereby eroding, rather thanstrengthening, members’ welfare as well as the overall organizing goals of the SEIU; (4)knowingly filing a frivolous lawsuit against UHW as a public relations handle for attackingUHW’s elected leaders; (5) intentionally misrepresenting and harassing UHW’s delegation to the2008 SEIU Convention; (6) orchestrating the removal of Sal Rosselli as President of SEIU’sCalifornia State Council for illegitimate, political purposes; and (7) orchestrating the removal of Sal Rosselli and other top UHW leaders from union office altogether by imposing an unjustifiedand oppressive “monitorship” on UHW as a prelude to imposing an unlawful trusteeship inretaliation for both UHW’s officers’ and members’ criticisms of SEIU policies and actions.
Federal law (the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act) and the SEIUConstitution contain clear standards designed to safeguard union members’ right todemocratically control their local unions and to protect locally governed unionsfrom arbitrary and politically motivated takeovers, or “trusteeships,” by nationaland international union officials. To these ends, federal law and the SEIUConstitution carefully limit the conditions under which international union officialsmay take over, or “trustee,” a local union. Andrew L. Stern and Anna Burger havesought to violate these restraints by attempting to impose a politically motivatedtrusteeship on UHW under the guise of false allegations.
During recent years, UHW’s elected leaders have criticized and opposed numerousprogrammatic practices and policies of Andrew Stern and Anna Burger. Forexample, UHW’s elected leaders have criticized such areas as: Stern and Burger’sundemocratic and concessionary approach to the renegotiation of the CaliforniaNursing Home Alliance agreement and its harmful implications for both nursinghome residents and workers; SEIU officials’ undemocratic practices during thecourse of SEIU members’ renegotiation of their collective bargaining agreementwith Tenet Healthcare; SEIU’s organizing plan for 2008-12; SEIU’s secret dealswith companies like Aramark and the Compass Group; Stern and Burger’s union-wide plan for 2008-12 (the “Justice for All” plan); and Stern and Burger’s efforts tocentralize and consolidate power in the hands of SEIU officials in Washington, D.C.at the expense of rank-and-file union members.2.
In addition, UHW’s elected leaders have publicly opposed certain financial andadministrative practices of Stern and Burger that raise serious ethical concerns. Forexample, in 2006 Andrew Stern published a book entitled “A Country that Works.”On or about February 3, 2006, Andrew Stern sought the approval of the SEIUInternational Executive Board for a plan to utilize at least $100,000 of SEIU’s fundsand institutional resources to promote Stern’s book. Specifically, Stern’s proposalcalled for the Union to do the following: spend $6,000 to purchase 500 copies of Stern’s book; pay for Stern to conduct a book tour and pay for an SEIU staffpersonto accompany Stern; pay for in-house SEIU services and staff time to promote thebook, including the use of SEIU’s Political, Communications, Clerical andAdministrative staff; spend $45,000 to hire a public relations firm to promoteStern’s book; spend $18,000 to fund a website administrator to help promote thebook; and spend $16,500 for book events and related expenses. Stern recommendedthis proposal to the International Executive Board despite the fact that revenues fromthe sales of the book would not be delivered to SEIU’s treasury, but rather to Sternfor his personal benefit. Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Stern’s book, hadagreed to pay Stern an “advance” of $175,000 in addition to royalty paymentsderived from book sales. UHW’s President Sal Rosselli, who served on theInternational Executive Board at the time, voted against Stern’s proposal.Furthermore, Rosselli requested a copy of the contract between Stern and Simon &Schuster, and went directly to Stern to express, during private conversation, hisopposition to the deal.3.
Rather than respecting UHW leaders’ right to question, criticize and oppose Sternand Burger’s policies and practices, Stern and Burger have conducted a months-long,multi-million dollar campaign of retaliation that is aimed at silencing their critics andremoving them from their elected office.4.
On or about June 5, 2008, SEIU official Bill Ragen sent an email to other top SEIUofficials that reveals the political motives behind the efforts of Andrew Stern andAnna Burger to remove UHW’s elected leaders. The email – which was addressedto a team of top SEIU officials including Stephen Lerner, Thomas Debruin, Kirk Adams, Denise Poloyac and counsel Edgar James – does not mention any concerns
 3about financial or operational problems at UHW that might serve as legitimategrounds for trusteeship. Instead, the email reveals the outlines of a Machiavellianplan by top SEIU officials to use whatever means necessary to take over, dismemberand eviscerate UHW and thereby remove UHW’s elected leaders.5.
In the email, Ragen discusses a number of possible strategies for accomplishing thisgoal, including: orchestrating the “implosion” of UHW; weakening UHW bystripping away its 65,000 long-term care (“LTC”) members through SEIU’s jurisdictional process; weakening UHW by recruiting away some of its key staff leaders; attempting to exploit “pockets of dissatisfaction” among UHW members inan effort to change UHW’s leadership during upcoming internal officer and boardelections; filing lawsuits against UHW; initiating regulatory actions against UHWwith the U.S. Department of Labor; and imposing trusteeship on UHW. Ragenidentifies two leading options for displacing UHW’s elected leaders – trusteeship or“implosion” – and notes that his preferred strategy is orchestrating the “implosion”of UHW.6.
The email, with its military references to “Iraq” and a “suicide mission,” isreminiscent of a secret government plan aimed at overthrowing a foreigngovernment. The email begins as follows:
Post-convention UHW work. A few thoughts.
Trusteeship would be difficult – it’s like Iraq, easy and then to get in and thena slog
 Implosion would be better outcome – but what will it take?
 Loss of LTC means half the local will be in the south, where there are pocketsof dissatisfaction
 Local elections are early next year 
Some key senior staff may want to get out of a suicide mission
 DFR’s – possible filing at Kaiser Sunset, elsewhere
The email reveals that SEIU officials, under the guidance of Andrew Stern and AnnaBurger, consider trusteeship to be simply one of many possible means to accomplishtheir political goal of removing UHW’s elected leaders.8.
The email also demonstrates that Stern and Burger are employing a broad array of the union’s resources to carry out a political coup d’etat against UHW’s electedleaders, including field staff, communications experts and legal support. The emailhints at the scope, complexity and intensity of Stern and Burger’s campaign in itsdiscussion of strategic and operational issues, including “communications strategy,”“member outreach,” outreach to other SEIU local unions, and legal strategy.9.
The truth about the purely political nature of SEIU’s proposed trusteeship of UHW isalso made evident by SEIU officials’ recent public assertions that SEIU had nointention of placing UHW under trusteeship, presumably because there was notsufficient evidence, nor legal rationale, to justify a legitimate trusteeship. On or

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