June 2, 2009
National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) Press Release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2009 — Contact: Sadie Crabtree, 213-400-8845
Workers fear SEIU’s violent “shock and awe” tactics on Day One of union election
SEIU has been condemned by the AFL-CIO for using violence against other unions—SEIU Trustee with record of violence tells staff, "We gotta put them in the ground and bury them"
Fresno, Calif.—Today is the first day of a highly contested union election for 10,000 homecare workers in Fresno County who are trying to leave the Washington, D.C.-based SEIU, a union that has been condemned by the AFL-CIO for using violence in inter-union conflicts. The stakes have never been higher for SEIU officials, who are desperately trying to stop a movement of nearly 100,000 healthcare workers in California who are organizing to quit SEIU and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).
Current and former SEIU organizers have reported SEIU’s use of so-called “shock and awe” teams to incite violence, including stalking, threatening and intimidating supporters of opposing unions. With 900 paid SEIU staff from across the country in Fresno County today, workers are worried about a repeat of recent violent attacks.
At an SEIU meeting yesterday, SEIU-UHW Trustee Dave Regan encouraged hundreds of SEIU staff to "administer an old-school ass-whipping" to NUHW supporters. "In other words, what we gotta do here, my old-school friends, is we have to administer an old-school ass-whipping over the next two weeks," he said. "I know everybody knows what means. We gotta give a butt-whipping they will never forget," he added. "We gotta put them in the ground and bury them."
Last April, Regan led 300 SEIU staff in storming a peaceful union conference in Michigan, injuring several workers and prompting AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to condemn the assault. "There is no justification—none—for the violent attack orchestrated by SEIU at the Labor Notes conference,” he said.
During the same conflict, an SEIU organizer reported being assigned with a team to mob CNA supporters at California hospitals and scream insults at them to provoke a physical response. SEIU organizers then called police and the media, accusing the victim of assaulting them.
Several Fresno homecare providers have recently reported being harassed with calls to their homes in the middle of the night by callers fraudulently claiming to be with NUHW in an apparent effort to incite false anger at NUHW in the days before the election. Homecare workers are concerned that SEIU staff may also impersonate NUHW supporters to harass workers in person at their homes.
Homecare providers have also reported being threatened by SEIU staff that they will lose their jobs or have their pay or hours cut if they vote to join NUHW, a threat that is illegal under federal labor law.
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The National Union of Healthcare Workers is an independent, member-led union, dedicated to improving the lives of healthcare workers and the people they care for. NUHW is building a national movement of caregivers to hold healthcare corporations accountable to the public interest and win affordable, quality healthcare for all.