Thursday, January 14, 2010

About face, SEIU style (part 1)

It's ironic how a Sonoma homecare worker's mysterious switch to Zombie UHW foreshadowed the Zombie's about face. The switch is obvious and quite telling of the character of Karen Timmons a one time NUHW proponent turned Zombie drone. The first bit shown below is her op-ed piece (replete with spelling mistakes and junior-high quality writing) shown on Op Ed News. Spirited writing indeed but with a few factual mistakes which will be corrected. Below that is her about face with many opportunities for correction. The reversal is available at the West County Gazette Volume 6, Number 3, March 12 - April 16, 2009
March 6, 2009
By Karen Timmons
There’s a new kid in town and we are NUHW, National Union of Health Care Workers. And Andy Stern, Fuhrer of SEIU, is pissed. He came to the Warsaw Ghetto and is getting his ass kicked, deservedly so. When SEIU (Service Employees International Union) illegally took away the right of United Health Care Workers West (UHW) to vote on breaking away from SEIU, I became angry. Let’s call it righteous indignation. Contacting the ACLU about what I considered an infringement of my civil liberties I was told that I had none. I was told that once I belong to a union I’ve given away my rights as an individual. “Well,” I thought, “that means I’m chattel.” Doesn’t Andy Stern know that Lincoln freed the slaves? And what’s with the bean counter mentality of the ACLU? Last week Stern went to the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) and said, “They can’t form a new union, they are members of SEIU UHW, and are my property.” Geez, I had a husband like that years ago and divorced him, and UHW did the same to Stern. So why were we UHW’s so upset that we need to desertify from SEIU and Stern? There are two reasons. First, we are a bottom up democratic organization: members vote on issues and elect officials. Stern’s organization is a top down organization: He gives the orders and they are carried out. Our executive board is elected, his is appointed by him. Second, Stern would have us all in one health care union whence he’d broker sweetheart deals with employers and reduce us to minimum wage, thereby creating a workforce of drones. Or in his words, “They are my property.”A domino effect would ensue and, piece by piece, workers in home health care, hospitals, and nursing homes, would be subjected to SEIU acting as our employer, not our representative. As of this writing 60,000 health care workers have desertified (legally petitioned Washington to leave) from SEIU. As of this writing SEIU as shrunk from 150,000 members in California alone to 90,000 and the numbers are growing. It is a movement of workers across the US saying, “Hell, no, we won’t go gently into the good night.” All of Denver, Colorado, Kaiser, has petitioned Washington to leave SEIU As of this writing, Andy Stern just lost a $30,000,000 yearly income from health care workers in California. And, if others go the route of Colorado. .  .well, you do the math. I am begging all those health care workers who live amongst us to sign the petition to desertify. Democracy requires education and action. Please sign before you wake up to the fact that you belong to Andy Stern with no bargaining rights and minimum wage.
Except for spelling mistakes (namely "desertify" and its conjugates) and some unsupported sentences this piece was a fairly well written summary of the hostile takeover of UHW. Even so, and for the benefit of the reader, I'd like to correct her statement. Since homecare workers are quasi-public employees we are in the jurisdiction of the California Public Employees Relations Board (PERB), not the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), so petitioning an entity in Washington be it SEIU or NLRB, would have no effect. Karen if you are reading this (as you have before), please write to tell me how many of the iron-clad truths you've listed below you know from your own research and still believe to be true. Also, the next time the librarian let's you near a computer with a word processor pay attention to the red squiggly line beneath words. This line beneath a word means it is misspelled! You'd know this if you weren't using Notepad.

You'll notice the adolescent nature of her writing: mild profanity, threats of violence, etc. She was ripe for the picking by the Zombies when bargaining time came around. This bargaining team refused to share the details of the bargaining process with the rest of the homecare workers subject to the contract. This was in clear contrast to the way contracts have been bargained before UHW was hijacked.
By Karen Timmons

I was a member of the bargaining team for the new contract between our union (SEIU-UHW) which represents IHSS homecare workers and the Public Authority, the administrators of In Home Support Services. Well, from the beginning of bargaining in early August to the end September 29th, when the Supervisors accepted our contract, the experience could be called advance training in manipulation and skullduggery. Despite a campaign of misrepresentation and harassment that our members endured, hundreds of members came to vote throughout Sonoma County and approved our contract with 90% support. Our contract was up September 30th and without a legal contract we workers would have been open to 2 events: 1. the county could lower our wages because we would then not legally be protected by a contract; and 2. the .split off organization NUHW would have the right to an election to take over our union. For months this organization has called our members to tell them that they are the new union and in a new contract their wages would be reduced $2 an hour and they’d have no health care benefits. Many members, including myself for a short time, listened to their rhetoric and became confused as to who was telling the truth. They are cheerleaders for their leader, Sal Rosselli; I am not a cheerleader for Andy Stern, head of SEIU, or any other leader who doesn’t have term limits. In any large organization there is power, money, ego, and greed. Just look at any legislative body.
Our process was democratic. We surveyed members and asked what their top priorities were they wanted bargained for. The top priority was A Win for Workers keep our wages the same: $11.50/hr. Not much, but better than the $7/hr. we were paid before SEIU started UHW (Service Employees International Union/United Healthcare Workers) came here 9 years ago. We were supposed to be up to $15/hr. by now but Gray Davis messed up and Arnie has tried to destroy us completely since he got into office. We bargained and kept our wages in a 2-year contract and, if the economy improves next year, we can open negotiations for a raise. If Kaiser raises its rates, we will query our members to find out if they can afford the rate change. If not, we’ll find more acceptable health care. Of course, the Public Option would win hands down. Several NUHW (National United Health Care Workers—not national and not a union) members went to the County Supervisors the day after Labor Day and told them that our process of bargaining was not democratic and that our voting would not be democratic. They accused us of what they themselves were doing — lying. They asked the Supervisors to extend the time for accepting our contract until after September 30th. All was set for the Supervisors to approve our contract on September 29th when the same group of NUHW workers went to them that morning and again asked to not accept our contract. Fortunately, our County Supervisors did accept our contract.
It is a win win situation for IHSS and for us, the homecare workers. The State Legislature, pressured by Schwatznegger, cut 57% of IHSS funds (ouch) and we kept our wages.
When will the children, disabled, and elderly be put first and not last? We can only work toward this future.
Karen makes several good points. The first and most important was her claim to having an "advance training in manipulation and skullduggery". What she isn't saying is that she was part of the manipulation and skullduggery. Even more startling is her steadfast belief that without a contract the county can slash wages and benefits. This is completely false, the Zombies know it, and they use it everywhere they can especially in Fresno. I know this because it has already been settled by the NLRB.

Karen's is right in stating that hundreds of workers voted, not thousands as is usually the case. Karen used a classic bit of SEIU strategy: the half truth. What she failed to mention, possibly because she wasn't told by anyone in SEIU, was what the typical voter turn out was and how voting is usually done. Thousands vote via mail, instead of a couple hundred in person, with a misleading "consultation" before the vote. Why? Informed voters will vote no and force SEIU back to the bargaining table. Unfortunately this didn't happen and we now have the worst contract ever (3 different write ups...check them out)!

I can only speak for myself, but as for the threat of wage reduction and benefit elimination, why would NUHW use the same threats the Zombies are using against their own members?!

Karen speaks of "telling the truth", but I wonder if she took the time to verify on her own any of the Zombies claims? Not likely since a few of her statements are identical to those of her union dues financed "friends". Nothing released by NUHW contains a lie; whereas the Zombies rely on lies.
The democratic process she speaks of seems to reflect the closed group of Zombie-picked members who can be easily persuaded to do the unions bidding and will never question the motivations of their masters. I have yet to speak to a fellow homecare worker who was aware of the bargaining process much less was asked to be part of the bargaining team. The Zombies pick the members and then the members elect themselves as bargaining team members, stewards, e-board members, what ever gap needs filling with the pick of the litter when it comes to malleable minds.

At no time were we paid $7 an hour: It was $6.75 which was the state's new minimum wage and then $8.50 --  the wage bargained by Local 250, the predecessor to UHW.

"[I]f the economy improves next year, we can open negotiations for a raise." This statement is as optimistic as it is unrealistic. The economy won't pick up enough if at all by that time so to make this statement shows what kind of grip on reality Karen has. We aren't getting a raise, period. We'll be lucky to keep what we have but Section 7.2B (shown below) pretty much allows for a reduction in wages should the Public Authority run short on cash.
If, during the term of this Agreement, either State or Federal participation levels are reduced or, either the State or Federal sharing formula is modified in any manner, relative to the baseline numbers described below, that would result in an increased cost to the County and/or the Public Authority to maintain the wage level described in this MOU, wages will be reduced by an amount necessary to keep the total cost to the County and/or the Public Authority the same as such cost existed on the day prior to the effective date of such reduction or modification.
So there have it: if their costs go up our wages go down, period. The past practice of lobbying at the capital is pointless.

As for our benefits, members outside of the elite 8 bargaining team members were never allowed to see the proposed coverage from the potential replacement to Kaiser. When she called me to explain this to me she said any paperwork describing the couldn't be mailed to me since they didn't have enough time before a decision would be made. Thanks Karen and fellow Zombies for sitting on the information we asked for repeatedly.

Karne: who told you NUHW isn't a union? Perhaps it's time to consider why your Zombie overlords told you this.

The county supervisors knew they were getting a deal so of course they accepted it. Once they were made aware of the Zombies super secrecy and coercion, 3 of the 5 supervisors objected to the Zombie's heavy-handed tactics against it's own members --  including lying, they saw the SEIU for what it really is. Karen, what evidence of NUHW supporters lying do you have to defend your argument?

Finally Karen asks: "When will the children, disabled, and elderly be put first and not last?" I wonder when will she, and by extension the Zombies, put dues paying members, irrespective of union affiliation and the people we care for first?


  1. Karen really seems to be one of those simple minded people that are easily influenced. Given a little "authority", like serving on the bargaining team, would really swell Karen's head to the size of a two-hundred pound pumpkin. It appears that Karen is more interested in having a little power to fling around and impress other gullible Zombies than she is in actually representing the members best interests. She doesn't even mention the fact that the UHW Zombies controled the vote by forcing members to show up personaly on certain days between certain hours in order to be able to vote. And what about those security guards who were ordered to prevent NUHW supporters from entering the building to vote?

    Karen, you're a typical Zombie scab who posseses no ethics or values.


  2. sounds like timmons hasn't a clue about doing independent research - there are many sites with solid investigative reporting about the current internal and external troubles in seiu and blogs like Herman Benson's that help put many issues in perspective.

    she also doesn't realize that many seiu members across the country want democracy and are angry with seiu for squandering their dues to fight nuhw and several other unions. she'd probably call them liars and dismiss their concerns, too.