01.18.2018 0

SEIU Is No One’s Friend

By Richard McCarty

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 instead 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 nameplates of Alzheimer’s 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 carefully 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.

Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

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