Occupy SEIU, Local 1000 Member Sues Union for Transparency

 In what would seem to be a quixotic quest, SEIU Local 1000 member Mariam Noujaim has spent $18,000 of her own money in an attempt to make the local union’s spending more accountable by personally inspecting their accounting books:

…Noujaim was invoking her right as a union member to see how the union “spends her dues and the dues of other members similarly situated,” specifically financial records and expense reports for 2009 and 2010.
She picked that time frame because that’s when the state imposed three unpaid days per month on state workers, equal to nearly a 14 percent pay cut.
“Let’s see how much of a cut (union leaders) took while we were on those furloughs,” Noujaim said.

To promote her cause, Noujaim created a new group, ironically named Occupy SEIU, which was aimed at bringing attention to SEIU’s bad accounting practices:

While the legal saga played out, Noujaim’s group, dubbed Occupy SEIU, crashed a Local 1000 rally at Cesar Chavez Plaza supporting the national Occupy Wall Street movement. Noujaim, some of her supporters and several paid pickets carried signs at the November event such as, “UNION DUES FOR UNION MEMBERS,” and “SEIU OFFICERS ARE THE 1%!”

This is a particularly forceful jab at the SEIU, which nationally supported the Occupy Wall Street movement and lent many of their member’s support and efforts to the movement. Publicly, the SEIU leadership have embraced the language of the “99%” in many of their publications, speeches and talking points.

However, when it comes to their own organization, they seem to act like the 1% by taking their member’s dues money and spending it on their own purposes without any transparency or oversight. In fact, many of those running the SEIU have salaries that rival those of the 1% they so deride.

See also- SEIU Pays for OccupyDC Offices, Tells Them Not to… Occupy

Fortunately for Noujaim, it seems her group has accomplished something of far more permanence than any other of the SEIU-supported Occupy-style movements:

In July, she wrote up a list of 17 documents for inspection: bank accounts, checks and electronic funds transactions, payments to SEIU’s state and national organizations, emails, redacted W-2 forms and more. Zamora said satisfying the request filled four file boxes.
Barring something unforeseen, Noujaim will see those records Tuesday. She can’t make any copies or take any pictures. She can take notes. The judge also allowed her to take along one person.

The union will have monitors on hand to watch it all.

Noujaim’s dedication deserves praise. She recognized that the SEIU’s leadership takes a “do as I say, not as I do” hypocritical approach with employers was hurting those who they claimed to be standing for- the workers.

Noujaim shows that a single SEIU member can make a difference. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, her notes from the accounting books would show, seeing as the SEIU will very likely be doing all that it can to prevent anything of interest from being read. But the fact that a member has gotten access to their accounting books means that the walls around the SEIU may be falling.

With more members like Noujaim standing for their rights to see what’s going on behind the SEIU’s walls, the SEIU might just have to start practicing what they preach.