SEIU vs. CNA: The Battle Exposed
August 19, 2008
In mid-March of this year, the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), an offshoot of the California Nurses Association (CNA), objected to the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) vote to organize over 8,000 Ohio nurses in nine Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP) hospitals.
The SEIU retreated after CNA/NNOC criticized their means of dealing with employers, and not nurses, to hold said election. The CNA also attacked the CHP for having filed for the elections without both demonstrating support from the nurses themselves and with the full backing of a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filled with anti-union Bush appointees.
According to an article written by SocialistWorker.org, “SEIU and CHP used what is known as an ‘RM petition,’ filed by an employer whenever one or more unions claim to represent its workers, or when an employer believes that a union doesn’t represent a majority of employees.
“Thanks to the RM petition, SEIU didn’t have to gather membership cards to register support, which is normally required in NLRB elections. Instead, an agreement between SEIU and CHP management would have allowed a fast-track election, in which neither side would campaign (though there were reports of the employer telling nurses to vote for the SEIU.)"
Following the unsuccessful election in March, on April 12th, union members tussled at the Labor Notes Conference in Dearborn, Mich.
Labor Notes, a nonprofit organization and network for rank-and-file union members and grassroots labor activists, sponsored the networking conference.
According to the Associated Press, "The California Nurses Association, an AFL-CIO member, and the SEIU are competing to sign up nurses, with the SEIU complaining that the CNA is raiding its members.
“CNA executive director Rose Ann DeMoro was scheduled to speak at the conference, but said she canceled when she heard rumors that SEIU would be there to protest. SEIU members tried to storm the conference’s banquet to protest during what they expected to be DeMoro’s speech, the CNA said.
“‘While breaking in the building, the SEIU staff, now joined by SEIU staff inside the building, physically assaulted a group of union members and activists at the door,’ CNA said in a news release. ‘At least one woman, a retired auto worker and former business manager for Labor Notes, was injured and went to the hospital after being pushed to the floor and hitting her head on a table.’
“AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on Tuesday squarely blamed the SEIU, which left the labor federation in 2005 to form a rival federation called Change to Win, for the scuffle. ‘There is no justification — none — for the violent attack orchestrated by SEIU,’ Sweeney said.
“But the SEIU says their people were the ones attacked.
“‘Contrary to the CNA’s description of what happened, however, many of the protesters were being pushed, shoved, and even assaulted by conference participants,’ the SEIU said.
“The SEIU said its people were there to protest the CNA, but ‘the protest was mostly peaceful.’
“‘Unfortunately, a brief period of pushing and shoving occurred when conference organizers attempted to block the protesters from entering, which resulted in a number of unintentional injuries — including several SEIU members and organizers.’
“And SEIU President Andy Stern said Sweeney ‘has the power to solve this problem.’
“‘He should stop making excuses and protect workers,’ Stern said.