SEIU Giving Up on Fight for $15?

Several years ago, SEIU started its Fight for $15 (and a union) Astroturf campaign. As one of the former leaders of the campaign admitted, not a lot of research or thought went into setting the $15 minimum wage goal. The campaign has targeted Walmart, McDonalds, and Burger King. But after spending tens of millions of dollars of its members’ money, SEIU still hasn’t unionized any of those companies. Now, it appears that SEIU is cutting funding for the project.

Of course, this news follows on the heels of the sexual harassment scandal that rocked SEIU and the Fight for $15 campaign. That scandal led to the resignation or firing of Scott Courtney, an SEIU vice president; Kendall Fells, the national organizing director of the Fight for $15; Caleb Jennings, the leader of the Chicago Fight for $15 chapter; and Mark Raleigh, the leader of the Detroit Fight for $15 chapter.

One wonders what SEIU’s next scheme will be to spend millions of dollars that it’s collected from the paychecks of janitors, window cleaners, bus drivers, etc.

Several years ago, SEIU started its Fight for $15 (and a union) Astroturf campaign. As one of the former leaders of the campaign admitted, not a lot of research or thought went into setting the $15 minimum wage goal. The campaign has targeted Walmart, McDonalds, and Burger King. But after spending tens of millions of […]

SEIU Loses Long-Running Fight

For three years, SEIU tried to unionize the University of Minnesota. After countless meetings and an unsuccessful legal battle, that effort has now failed. The faculty group pushing for unionization announced last month that it had decided to cut its ties to SEIU. While SEIU failed in its campaign, it did succeed in generating quite a bit of opposition — over 500 university employees signed a letter from Faculty Excellence, a group opposing SEIU’s effort.

Maybe college professors are finally waking up to the fact that SEIU is a top-down organization with huge locals that are unaccountable to their members.

Some were skeptical that Minnesota’s SEIU — which represents about 58,300 Minnesota and Wisconsin workers in industries including manufacturing and health care — could adequately represent faculty, partly because of its limited experience with higher education.

“Why bring in people who actually don’t know how the university is running?” said chemistry professor Philippe Buhlmann. “I was worried that we would actually make things worse by adding to an existing administration . and make things even slower than they are.”

For three years, SEIU tried to unionize the University of Minnesota. After countless meetings and an unsuccessful legal battle, that effort has now failed. The faculty group pushing for unionization announced last month that it had decided to cut its ties to SEIU. While SEIU failed in its campaign, it did succeed in generating quite a […]

Living in the Lap of Luxury

According to a report it filed with the US Department of Labor, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spent over $2.3 million at 4- to 5-star hotels around the world in 2016. (Data for 2017 is not yet available.) With so many of SEIU’s members working low-paying jobs as janitors and health care workers, it seems unlikely that many of SEIU’s members regularly travel in such luxury.

Below are some of the amenities available at several of these fine hotels.

  • SEIU spent nearly $50,000 at the 5-star Regis Washington DC, which is one of the nicest hotels in the city. The hotel is located near the White House; its lobby features crystal chandeliers, marble floors, and a baby grand piano. Most evenings, the hotel conducts a ceremony opening a champagne bottle with a saber and then distributes complimentary glasses of champagne.
  • SEIU spent over $18,000 at the 5-star InterContinental Hong Kong. The hotel has stunning views of the city’s harbor. In 2016, the hotel had one fancy restaurant that was Michelin-rated; now it has two. Each hotel room includes a loaner smart phone that guests can use to make unlimited local or international calls. The phone also offers unlimited data and functions as a hotspot.
  • SEIU spent over $8,000 at the 5-star Park Hyatt Chicago, the “flagship Park Hyatt hotel.” The hotel has beautiful views of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan. Rooms in this hotel have remote control blinds, iPads, espresso machines, bathrobes, slippers, and televisions in the bathrooms.
  • SEIU spent over $5,000 at the 5-star Westin New York at Times Square. Guests staying at this hotel who forgot their workout clothes can borrow pants or shorts, a shirt, socks, and tennis shoes for just a few dollars. Room service, on the other hand, is much more expensive: the room service menu offers a cheeseburger for $26, yogurt for $12, pancakes for $22, a muffin for $14, and an ice cream sandwich for $14. If none of the room service options suit guests’ appetites, they can order a chicken pot pie for $29 in the hotel’s bar.
  • SEIU spent over $70,000 at the 5-star MGM Grand Detroit, one of the nicest hotels there. The hotel has a casino, a spa, an indoor pool, and Wolfgang Puck Steak, which received a 4-star rating from the Forbes Travel Guide. This rating makes the steakhouse the highest-rated restaurant in the state, according to Forbes.
  • SEIU spent over $27,000 at the 5-star MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit, also one of the nicest hotels in Detroit. Guests can use the hotel’s spa and its pillow library and dine at the hotel’s AAA Four Diamond Award-winning restaurant, Iridescence. Iridescence is one of only five restaurants in the state receiving this award. At Iridescence, the menu includes caviar for $125 and a 6-ounce Japanese steak for $120.
  • SEIU spent over $5,000 at the 5-star Taj Boston, which was previously a Ritz-Carlton. The hotel is noted for its “vast array of museum-worthy artwork.” The hotel’s restaurant, The Café, received the AAA Four Diamond Award; it is one only twelve restaurants in the state receiving this award. The hotel is located on the same block as Burberry, Brooks Brother’s, and Armani, and is across the street from Boston Commons. A Tiffany & Co. boutique can be accessed from the hotel’s lobby. The hotel offers guests a pillow menu, a bath menu, a bath butler, and complimentary shoeshines. A seasonal fireplace butler is available to assist guests staying in the hotel’s fireplace suites.

It’s a little hard to believe that SEIU had to spend over $2 million of its members’ money at fancy, swanky hotels in just one year. Surely, there were other less costly lodging options that SEIU could have chosen if SEIU’s bosses wanted to conserve their members’ funds. But because SIEU chose to spend its members’ money in this fashion, SEIU members are due an explanation as to who is traveling in luxury at their expense and why.

 

According to a report it filed with the US Department of Labor, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spent over $2.3 million at 4- to 5-star hotels around the world in 2016. (Data for 2017 is not yet available.) With so many of SEIU’s members working low-paying jobs as janitors and health care workers, it […]

SEIU Is No One’s Friend

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is one of the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful unions in the country. Unfortunately, because SEIU is exploitative, fundamentally dishonest, and unethical, it’s also one of the last organizations anyone should ever want on their side.

For example, one of the ways that SEIU manages to collect over $300 million a year is by skimming union dues off of the Medicaid checks that are sent to provide care for sick and disabled people. Most of the home health care providers receiving these checks never asked SEIU to “represent” them, but rather had the union imposed on them. In fact, many of these caregivers have tried to leave the union, but SEIU has schemed and fought to keep collecting their dues money.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that home health care providers cannot be forced to join or pay fees to a union. In the wake of this decision, the right-leaning Freedom Foundation began working to notify Washington State caregivers that they could opt out of paying union dues. Unwilling to let its members leave without a fight, SEIU went to war with the nonprofit foundation. One of the shady tactics that SEIU employed was lawfare – filing frivolous lawsuits to waste the foundation’s time and resources.

Finally, SEIU decided to launch a ballot measure to prevent the Freedom Foundation from obtaining the contact information of caregivers who were receiving Medicaid checks. But rather than have a fair and honest debate, SEIU cleverly disguised the measure as one intended to protect the elderly from identity theft and consumer fraud. Although newspaper editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed SEIU’s ballot measure, the measure passed by a wide margin due to SEIU’s trickery.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2012, SEIU was accused of trying to sabotage a nursing home by mixing up the name plates of Alzheimers patients and removing stickers that indicated dietary restrictions. In 2014, SEIU stole the personal information of county government workers in California in an effort to poach union members from a rival union. In 2015, SEIU members abandoned mental patients to strike for higher wages. In 2016, it was reported that two Minnesota women alleged that someone forged their signature on forms authorizing SEIU dues deductions from Medicaid checks.

Last summer, SEIU finally settled with Professional Janitorial Service, a company in Texas. The union had unfairly and maliciously attacked the company causing it to lose clients. After nearly a decade in the courts, the company had won a $7.8 million judgment against SEIU.

SEIU has also been rocked by allegations of sexual harassment. Over the last several months, three SEIU employees have been fired, two resigned, and another was suspended. Of these six employees, two were SEIU executive vice presidents, another was the national organizing director for SEIU’s Fight for $15 campaign, and two more were leaders of Fight for $15 campaigns in Chicago and Detroit.

One of the most disturbing cases involved Pedro Malave, an SEIU organizer in the Boston area. The sexual assault allegations against him were serious, credible, and disgusting, and he eventually left the SEIU local where he had been working. But SEIU refused to tell his accuser, another SEIU employee, whether Malave had been fired or allowed to resign. Several months after leaving the SEIU local, Malave showed up working for an SEIU-affiliated organization. Subsequently, he went to work for two other SEIU locals on the West Coast. Only after the allegations surfaced in the media was Malave fired—over three years after SEIU was first told of his assaults. Even after the firing, Hector Figueroa, an SEIU local president, tried to excuse the fact that Malave had been rehired.

As if all that weren’t bad enough, there have also been tens of thousands of charges filed against SEIU with the National Labor Relations Board—including over 4,200 charges of coercive actions, over 2,300 charges of coercive statements, and over 750 charges of coercion.

Given SEIU’s influence and its appalling record, its actions should be closely scrutinized; and its recent efforts to worm its way into the disabled community should be questioned. Although SEIU has immense wealth, it’s only offering crumbs to disability organizations. So what does SEIU propose to do for the disabled? Is it going to train them? Is it going to hire them? Or is SEIU just looking for another group to prey upon? The disabled community deserves answers.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is one of the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful unions in the country. Unfortunately, because SEIU is exploitative, fundamentally dishonest, and unethical, it’s also one of the last organizations anyone should ever want on their side. For example, one of the ways that SEIU manages to collect over $300 […]

More Bad News for SEIU

Over the past few months, SEIU has had to deal with the fallout over allegations of sexual harassment against several leaders with SEIU and the Fight for $15 campaign. For those not familiar with the Fight for $15 campaign, it is an SEIU effort to increase the minimum wage that employers pay their workers and to unionize them; and SEIU has spent several years and tens of millions of dollars from its members on this campaign. Unfortunately for SEIU, although it has had some success at boosting the minimum wages in liberal cities and states, it has had much less success at unionizing fast food workers.

As if that were not bad enough, the United Media Guild recently reported that a majority of the Fight for $15 staffers from all across the country had signed union membership cards to join the staff union. The group, which numbers more than 50 staffers, is seeking better benefits from the SEIU. Fight for $15 staffers had been looking to unionize for quite some time, but SEIU had hypocritically opposed the effort. Although SEIU recognized the staff workers’ union, it is unclear exactly how many members the bargaining unit will have or when negotiations on a union contract will start between the United Media Guild and SEIU.

It will be interesting to see how SEIU responds to its staffers’ demands. Will it end the Fight for $15 campaign, or will the wealthy union claim poverty and only offer its employees miserly benefits? After all, SEIU does have a record of firing staffers who join a union or want to do so.

Over the past few months, SEIU has had to deal with the fallout over allegations of sexual harassment against several leaders with SEIU and the Fight for $15 campaign. For those not familiar with the Fight for $15 campaign, it is an SEIU effort to increase the minimum wage that employers pay their workers and […]

Former Grad Student Slams SEIU

David Giovagnoli, a former Illinois State University grad student opposes SEIU and its creepy tactics. Interestingly, he opposes SEIU even though he’s inclined to support unionization for ISU grad students. He recently wrote a letter to an Illinois newspaper describing his unsettling experience with SEIU organizers earlier this year. He called support for SEIU a “mistake” and urged others to oppose the union.

Imagine opening your front door to a pair of individuals that you don’t know (and don’t even go to ISU), but know your name, where you work, where you live and what you’re studying. This was my experience with two SEIU representatives before the fall semester started, and was also the experience of several of my colleagues in the English department.

David Giovagnoli, a former Illinois State University grad student opposes SEIU and its creepy tactics. Interestingly, he opposes SEIU even though he’s inclined to support unionization for ISU grad students. He recently wrote a letter to an Illinois newspaper describing his unsettling experience with SEIU organizers earlier this year. He called support for SEIU a “mistake” and […]

Court Ruling Could Cost SEIU

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Mark Janus is a public employee in Illinois, who is suing the union for compelling him to pay “agency fees” to AFSCME in spite of the fact that he is not a member and does not support the organization.

Just last year, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court split 4-4 in the Friedrichs case, which was very similar to the Janus case. Scalia’s replacement, Justice Neil Gorsuch, is widely expected to side with the justices who opposed forcing public employees to pay fees to unions to keep their jobs. If the Court does rule that way, the effect would be similar to passing a National Right to Work Act for the public sector.

If the predictions about the Court’s ruling are correct, SEIU is likely to lose both members and revenue. After all,  over half of SEIU’s members are public employees, according to the union’s website. The main question is how much will SEIU lose, but unions are expecting a sizeable effect. “Unions that operate in both ‘right to work’ and ‘fair share’ states say the shift could drive down membership by 15 percent to 30 percent.”

The experience of states that have passed Right to Work legislation (that applied to public sector employees) over the past few decades might provide some clues as to what the impact of Janus could be. In 1985, Idaho passed Right to Work legislation. Five years later, public employee union membership in Idaho had fallen 1.5 percentage points (from 19.8% to 18.3%). In 2001, Oklahoma enacted a Right to Work law. Public employee union membership over the next five years declined 1.5 percentage points in that state also (from 20.2% to 18.7%). In 2012, Michigan passed Right to Work legislation. The changes in Michigan were significantly larger, perhaps due to the fact that the public employee union membership rate was much higher than the rates had been in Idaho and Oklahoma. Over the next four years (The 2017 union membership numbers are not yet available.), public union membership dropped 8 percentage points (from 54.3% to 46.3%) in that state.

As a result of the Janus decision, SEIU’s political allies are likely to lose as well. For example, a recent study of neighboring counties found that Right to Work laws have a significant impact on election results and campaign finance.

“Comparing counties on either side of a state and right-to-work border to causally identify the eff ects of the state laws, we find right-to-work laws reduce Democratic presidential vote shares by 4-6 percentage points. We fi nd similar e ffects in US Senate, US House, and gubernatorial races, as well as state legislative control… right-to-work laws dampen labor campaign contributions to Democrats… In states with RTW laws, the total share of campaign contributions owing from unions falls by about 1.25 percentage points following the passage of RTW laws. The share of overall contributions collected by Democratic candidates also falls signifi cantly following the enactment of RTW laws. Democrats thus appear unable to replace union funding from other sources and they raise and spend less money after RTW laws pass.”

In addition, both union members and union bosses are likely to see financial changes as a result of the Court’s ruling.  According to the Heritage Foundation, “Union financial reports reveal that they charge workers roughly 10 percent higher dues and pay their full-time top officers $20,000 more annually in states with compulsory dues.” So without compulsory dues, public employee union members might well see smaller amounts of dues being deducted from their checks, and highly-compensated union bosses might well see slightly smaller paychecks.

More than likely, big changes are in store for SEIU starting next year. Perhaps the Court’s ruling will finally force SEIU to take the political views of its members more seriously and not simply pursue whatever agenda SEIU’s bosses favor. And, perhaps, after years of ignoring and  repeatedly disrespecting its members, SEIU will feel compelled to be more responsive to them.

 

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Mark Janus is a public employee in Illinois, who is suing the union for compelling him to pay “agency fees” to AFSCME in spite of the fact that he is not a member and […]

Just When You Thought It Was Over

Over the past several weeks, four officials with SEIU or its Fight for $15 campaign have resigned or been fired amidst an investigation into sexual harassment at the union. But, apparently, those four weren’t the only individuals facing sexual harassment allegations.

Now another former SEIU staffer has accused an SEIU organizer, Pedro Malave, of harassing her. One incident is alleged to have happened prior to their employment with SEIU. On another occasion, while they both worked for SEIU, Malave is alleged to have sexually assaulted her while she slept.

After the alleged assault, the accuser was disappointed with the union’s response. While Malave finally left the SEIU local, the union refused to say whether he had been fired. Furthermore, he later showed up working for a group that SEIU funded. Subsequently, he worked for two other SEIU locals.

At his latest SEIU local, he worked with immigrant women, which understandably concerned his accuser.

“My fear is that he has continued his predator behavior… It doesn’t seem like he is going to stop, so my fear is that he is working with undocumented women, women who cannot speak English, women who are not going to come forward out of fear, and they are basically his ideal prey.”

For the longest time, SEIU did not share her concerns.

When SEIU was questioned about the rehiring of the alleged perpetrator, it tried to deny all responsibility. “‘You need to contact the local unions you reference in your email,’ wrote [SEIU spokesperson Sahar] Wali. ‘The [International Union] doesn’t hire staff for local unions.'” This excuse is particularly weak given SEIU’s crusade to make franchisors, like McDonald’s, responsible for the decisions made by franchisees.

Only after these latest allegations were published, did Malave’s latest SEIU local finally decide to fire him — over three years after another SEIU local was told that he had sexually assaulted his coworker. Even now, given the record, there is a chance that an organization linked to SEIU will hire Malave once again.

Over the past several weeks, four officials with SEIU or its Fight for $15 campaign have resigned or been fired amidst an investigation into sexual harassment at the union. But, apparently, those four weren’t the only individuals facing sexual harassment allegations. Now another former SEIU staffer has accused an SEIU organizer, Pedro Malave, of harassing her. […]

SEIU’s Sexual Harassment Scandal

While so much attention is being focused on the allegations of sexual harassment in Hollywood, there’s another sexual harassment scandal that is not getting anywhere near as much coverage. That scandal is at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a major campaign supporter of Democrats, and its Fight for $15 campaign.

SEIU, which is composed of janitors, security guards, child care workers, government employees, grad students, and adjunct professors, among others, is one of the largest unions in the country; its Fight for $15 campaign advocates for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The scandal began with allegations against Scott Courtney, formerly an SEIU Executive Vice President. Seven SEIU staffers accused Courtney of having sexual relationships with young staffers who were then promoted. Just last month, Courtney married an SEIU staffer. Furthermore, “more than a dozen current and former staffers … said complaints about top-level staff on the Fight for $15 were an open secret.” They also alleged “that complaints about abusive behavior by organizers who reported to top strategist Courtney led to no action.” Amidst an investigation, Courtney resigned from the SEIU late last month.

The Washington Free Beacon talked to a former Fight for $15 organizer. She spoke of the “the broad environment of misogyny at [the union],” and stated that she had “personally experienced sexual harassment from two people in supervisory positions.” The organizer claimed that, although she reported her harassers to human resources, it did not seem to accomplish much. Speaking of one of the harassers, she said, “His behavior didn’t change. He had an attitude of entitlement and misogyny and the feeling he could get away with really egregious comments.”

Caleb Jennings, who led SEIU’s Fight for $15 campaign in Chicago, was fired late last month. Jennings was accused of creating a toxic work environment and having a “sexist and aggressive” attitude. Over a year ago, 50 staffers signed a letter urging his firing. Included in the letter was an allegation that he had shoved a staffer into a doorframe and subsequently fired her. That former staffer, who is also an immigrant, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB found that she was wrongly fired and awarded her $20,000 in back pay. She declined to take her old job back and stated, “I wouldn’t want to work for someone who assaulted me.” If the allegations against Jennings are true, it is unclear how he managed to keep a job at all, particularly one at an organization that claims to fight for workers’ rights.

Although no explanations have been provided publicly, two other Fight for $15 leaders have recently left their jobs. Mark Raleigh, who led the Detroit chapter of Fight for $15, was fired; and Kendall Fells resigned earlier this month. Fells departure is notable because he was the national organizing director for Fight for $15 and was a leading spokesman for the campaign.

After the latest departures, an SEIU spokeswoman stated the following. “These personnel actions are the culmination of this stage of the investigation which brought to light the serious problems related to abusive behavior towards staff, predominantly female staff.”

What makes the scandal even worse is the Fight for $15 campaign’s hypocrisy. On its website, the campaign asserts that “four in ten women working in fast food restaurants deal with sexual harassment on the job… This has to stop. WE have to stop it.” Yet, while the campaign was busy crusading against sexual harassment in fast food restaurants, it was ignoring serious problems in its own organization.

It is good that SEIU is finally decided to investigate its scandal and admit that it has had “serious problems,” but the union is still rather late in arriving at this conclusion. Because SEIU’s sexual harassment scandal was so widespread and reached so high into the organization, the Department of Labor should investigate to see whether any dues money from hard-working SEIU members was used to buy the silence of sexual harassment victims.

While so much attention is being focused on the allegations of sexual harassment in Hollywood, there’s another sexual harassment scandal that is not getting anywhere near as much coverage. That scandal is at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a major campaign supporter of Democrats, and its Fight for $15 campaign. SEIU, which is composed […]

Where Does SEIU Find These People?

SEIU finally fired Caleb Jennings, a lead organizer who was accused of creating a toxic work environment and having a “sexist and aggressive” attitude. Over a year ago, 50 staffers signed a letter urging his firing. Included in the letter was an allegation that he had shoved a staffer into a doorframe and subsequently fired her. That former staffer, who is also an immigrant, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB found that she was wrongly fired and awarded her $20,000 in back pay. She declined to take her old job back and stated, “I wouldn’t want to work for someone who assaulted me.”Jennings’ firing follows the resignation of SEIU’s executive vice president amidst allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.

SEIU finally fired Caleb Jennings, a lead organizer who was accused of creating a toxic work environment and having a “sexist and aggressive” attitude. Over a year ago, 50 staffers signed a letter urging his firing. Included in the letter was an allegation that he had shoved a staffer into a doorframe and subsequently fired […]