Monday, May 14, 2012

SEIU District 1199...Your Principles Have Gone On Strike!!

I was bored late yesterday afternoon, and decided to take a journey through the tubes of the internets in order to catch up on the people, places, and things that I haven’t been in touch with for awhile.

I started out with a search for Steel Reserve (their site still sucks), then I went to an image search of footlong coney dogs (my drool exploded), and then…

I  went to the website of an organization for whom I last worked some ten years ago.

SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH

I worked as an Administrative Organizer (i.e. Staff Rep), and briefly as Political Director for SEIU District 1199 between January 1998 through roughly, May of 2002.  Four and a half years, and let me tell you…

While those years were at times, the best and most challenging four and half years of my life, they also became the worst, and bringing up the SEIU 1199 website last night, put a post facto exclamation point on that experiential palpability.

Toward the end of my brief career with SEIU, I could see it morphing into something foreign to me…

Something it hadn’t been when I had climbed on board in order to fight for worker justice and help to raise the standard of living for working men and women back in 1998.

When I started it was all about the workers.  The local didn’t care if a rep worked 80 hours a week, drove 1,000 miles a week, and ate nothing but Speedway hot dogs while on the road for days at a time…the workers came first.

And, that is how it should be, and was…from the President of the Local on down to men and women like me. The field organizers, the staff reps, and the office staff, because as it should be, the workers come first.

Photo ops, interviews, and even the SEIU 1199 website was to have the workers out in front, to take the lead, to represent SEIU, because they are the Union.  And, that’s how it was.

However…last night during my boredom induced search that led me to the SEIU 1199 website, I felt not nearly as shocked as I did, validated, when the homepage opened showing this…


Indeed, Becky Williams the President of SEIU/1199 in all her Glamour Shots glory appears on the homepage where workers used to appear.  And…it introduces a special message that she has for one GOP Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

Her message states that Romney doesn’t care about auto workers in Ohio.  That he has no sense of what it is like to be a working man or woman.  That he cares nothing about the middle class, and that he worked with Gov. Kasich to pass SB 5 which would have taken away the rights of workers to bargain collectively in the State of Ohio.

All of those things are true, well except the Senate Bill 5 thing, (Being Romney, he could never decide day to day which side of that bill he was on), but other than that, what Williams’ says in her Presidential diatribe are in most workers and my opinion, true.  However…

The message given with Miss Williams appearing first and foremost, is as corporate and as top down as Apple, Bain Capital, and Goldman Sachs.

And that my friends, is why I left…because I could see the corporatization of a hard working, bottom up, SEIU Local coming years ago.

While we had a large, open, and democratic Executive Board made up of working members, we as organizers were told to make them vote this way or that on every issue from political endorsements to dues increases.

But, democracy never looked so good.  Farces are sometimes, very pretty.

And, let me tell you…Union Presidents are very pretty as well, sometimes.  During the lead up to the SB 5 Bill vote last year, I saw an interview with Becky Williams on WSYX-TV 6 discussing the measure and her disdain for Gov. Kasich.

If you watch the interview, specifically at 26 seconds in, look at her nails.  Yes, her fingernails.  See how nice they are?  Finely French manicured.  Silly, you say, Matt-Man?

I don’t think so.  The picture on the website and nails of one, Becky Williams represent, at least optically, what is wrong with SEIU District 1199.

SEIU/District 1199 has become a corporation.  A feeding frenzy of union “executives” feasting upon an Animal Farm and will do whatever it takes to keep their membership dues coming in, in spite of the workers they once served without hesitation.

But really, is that so bad?  Or should I say, is that so different than American companies putting profit over American jobs by sending everything overseas?


It’s all the same.

The Union Organizer wants your signature in order to get your dues money.  The corporation wants your job in order to boost profits, and the politician wants your vote in order to get re-elected, and collect kickbacks from both entities.

Who stands up for you?  You say no one?  Well, you are wrong…

Millions of people stand up with you and for you, and with me as well because we are the ones drowning…we need to realize that, and once we do realize that we are in the same leaky boat, we can bail out the trash that is sinking us.



On a happier note....Jayman and I did a helluva tribute to mothers yesterday on the IWS Mothers Day Radio Show.  We talked good moms, bad moms, hot moms, and dead moms.  Annnnnd, much , much more, so give a listen to it early and often, our ratings would appreciate it....


I'm With Stupid said...

This same thing happens with most big national charities. The top people make HUGE salaries, work in very fancy offices and fly around in corporate jets. It eventually becomes more about keeping all that and keeping up a certain image and less about the people or causes they supposed to be helping.


I'm With Stupid said...

Jay: I wish I could add to that, but that is the very root of the problem, and it happens in many places. Cheers Jayman!!


Jo said...

Loved that last part, Matt.


I'm With Stupid said...

Jo: Why thank you and yes...She IS very pink, isn't she? Cheers Jo!!