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SEIU Local 36 United For Power Committee Fights For Union Democracy

by solidarity! Friday, Jun. 27, 2003 at 2:48 PM

The Local 36 United For Power Committee, a rank and file prodemocracy group inside SEIU Local 36 is fighting to win!

The Local 36 United For Power Committee, a rank and file prodemocracy group inside SEIU Local 36, will be featured on Free Speech Radio News this evening, Thursday 6/25. You can listen to it at http://www.fsrn.org. If you miss it tonight just check the archives.

Below is an open letter to Andy Stern, international President of SEIU.

The demands of SEIU Local 36 United for Power Committee are simple and straightforward. They want an end to the trusteeship of Philadelphia SEIU Local 36, and fair and democratic elections now. They want an end to the harassment and attacks on union dissidents. They want justice and are fighting to win!

What can you do to help? Give Andy Stern a call at 1-800-424-8592 and demand…

-STOP ATTACKING AND DENYING REPRESENTATION TO UNION DISSIDENTS

-END THE TRUSTEESHIPS. HOLD FAIR ELECTIONS IN BOSTON, PHILADELPHIA and
NEW YORK


Dear Andy Stern,

Before I get into this letter with you, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Delbert Franklin. I live in the Philadelphia area, and I have been a member of SEIU Local 36 for the past nine years. I’m
writing you this letter in hope that I can get your help concerning a matter of grave importance as a member. But if I can give you a little history of what’s going on, you’ll have a clear picture of the point I’m trying to make. When I came into this union, Mike Russo was the president at that time. I experienced that our members needed help in various areas. And I felt that this union has given me the experience to help out in a lot of ways. This pleased me as a union member.

As time went on, some things were happening that were not too pleasing, because I saw that there was a power struggle between the officers of the union at that time. Brenda Brisbane and her team started a lot of conflict within the ranks of our union. Mike Russo eventually left the union, and the responsibility of holding the union fell into Denys Everingham’s hands. And I think she did a hell of a good job of holding that union until the trustees came.

There were countless hearings and legal proceedings and attacks made against Denys and against the International program. Many of us members knew her frustrations, and we stood in the trenches with her. She called in a team of shop stewards, leaders, and organizers so that we could continue to keep our union running. For several weeks last summer, the members ran the union, and it functioned better than it ever had, even before the trustees came in. We, as union members, may be janitors and maintenance people, but many of us are leaders in our own right. And we see and hear the struggles of our union members across the nation. And many of the trustees that you send us are the ones who are causing the struggle. We, as the members, cleaned up the corruption that was going on with various officers in Local 36. These officers literally ran and left their post, namely Brenda Brisbane and her team. Now if you are fighting a battle, and you are our leader, and you elect certain officers to hold their posts on the battlefield, well then they are supposed to hold that post no matter what the cost. If a man is assigned to hold the flag, and he gets shot down on the battlefield, another soldier is going to pick up that flag and continue on with the battle. But these officers literally left their post. Isn?t that considered treason, and wouldn’t the deserter be shot in most armies?

We would never threaten anyone, but we know a lot of officers in this union who deserve to be shot.When have you ever seen a president of a union leave his post and fail to step up to the plate when all hell broke loose in our union, namely Mike Russo? And that little lady did not drop the ball when Russo left office, namely Denys Everingham. She held our union with the members when it was being attacked.

Now the trustees had not even come into the picture yet. So we fought and we got all the riff raff, all the corrupt officers that I was talking about, out of our local. The doors of our local became open. We solved problems and grievances that our members were going through with their jobs.

And we did a good job of it. We solved problems that nobody had been able to solve for years. We won battles through our weekly actions, namely the Purple Storm. We met every Wednesday in the downtown section of Philadelphia and had rallies and actions that won. Some of us even lost our jobs while fighting to protect the union. We had bigger membership meetings than had ever happened, and as a result of the meetings we had great turnouts. Many members said that they felt it was the first time that they’d really been listened to. And it was no more a closed door policy at our local. We were being effective and getting stuff done.

Then when the trustees came in, most of the original people who held that union were sent back to their jobs and were no longer active as union soldiers. Turnout dropped to almost nothing. The price of our benefits went sky high. Trustees appointed their own private army.

Members of the negotiating committee were harrassed and attacked for signing a letter saying that they felt manipulated by the negotiating process. Some hispanic brothers and sisters felt that Wyatt allowed a racial situation to happen against people who did not agree with him. Members stopped caring about the union, because they felt that they had no voice in it.

Many of us do not agree with the settlement pertaining to our benefits. We had these good benefits long before I was even born, and I’m 51 years old. And now, I?m paying more money than I ought to pay. If, Mr. Stern, our contract is up in October, why are we paying for the new contract in July? So now here is the clincher of all I?m trying to say to you. We need a vote and an election now. We need a president to run our union now. Many of the union members that do not agree with what the trustees are doing in our local need to have a meeting with you. There are several of us who want to come to Washington and meet with you. We recognize that you are our leader, but every time we try to get in contact with you, we are somehow put on the back burner. Now if SEIU Local 36 is taking money from us through our dues, well then we have a right to talk to our president concerning needs that need to be met. When is it possible sir that we can come and have a meeting with you? Our group is called the United For Power Committee, and we are very anxious to get there to Washington to meet with you. We want to be fair and honest and talk with you about this like adults. We, as your soldiers, Mr. Stern, are fighting to hold our union here in Philadelphia. And we will continue to hold up the banner of SEIU, whether the trustees like it or not. This is no personal attack against the trustees. We are just concerned about our members and bread and butter. A year ago, the members took over their union office, and history can repeat itself.

If you need further information, or to arrange a meeting with the soldiers of the United For Power Committee, please contact us at the above addresses.

Sincerely,

Delbert Franklin, Soldier, United For Power Committee

Elba Mercado, Chair, United For Power Committee
unitedforpower@comcast.net
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