From: Dave Regan seiu1199.org
Sent: Mon 2/11/2008 5:11 PM
To: Sal Rosselli
cc Andy Stern
Response to Sal's Resignation
February 11, 2008
Sal Rosselli, President
SEIU United Healthcare Workers West
560 Thomas L. Berkley Way
Oakland, CA 94612
Dear Brother Rosselli:
AS MEMBERS OF the SEIU International Executive Committee we were saddened to
you have resigned from the Committee. Your decision leaves the 130,000
UHW without a voice when key strategy decisions are being debated about how
to build a
stronger and more united movement of working people in this country and in
healthcare industry in particular.
To understand just how disappointed we are with your actions, it is
important to remember
four historic changes that have taken place in our union since 1996.
The first is that local union leaders like us have been called upon to act
as the collective
national union leadership and to take on the responsibility of jointly
developing a strategy
to improve the lives of working people in North America. Recognizing that no
can have all the answers, we have all been given unprecedented opportunities
contribute ideas, debate options, and reach decisions as a group. The
structure encouraged by President Stern, rather than one-person rule, has
carried with it a
new responsibility to act based on the long-term interests of workers in our
industries and not just on our own power or prerogatives as local leaders.
Our collective role as national leaders and not just local leaders has also
carried with it a
responsibility to practice the fundamental principles of democracy. Just as
members of our local unions to unite behind a common strategy after there
has been full
debate and a majority has reached a democratic decision, we as leaders must
do the same.
The second historic change has been to put far greater emphasis on helping
join our movement to make us all stronger. It is simply not realistic to
think that over the
long term our current members can maintain and improve their pay, benefits,
conditions as a unionized island in nonunion industries and a nonunion
fewer and fewer workers have health and retirement coverage or a living
wage. About 7.4
percent of private sector workers in America have a union the lowest level
the Great Depression. At most, 10 percent of healthcare workers have a
union. Virtually all
of the population growth in the U.S. in the next 20 years will be in the
South and Southwest, and the industries that are growing fastest are the
are most nonunion.
The third big change in our union has been to unite our financial,
and staff resources to a much greater degree so that workers seeking to join
us have the
support of the entire union, not just one local, so we can all achieve
higher pay and benefit
standards. Many of the employers we deal with today are regional, national,
or global in
scope. We all have recognized that to match their strength we too have to be
united on a
The fourth change has been to restructure ourselves to unite the strength of
do the same kind of work. As you know, SEIU used to have multiple local
unions in the
same industry in the same geographic area, a system that protected the
certain individual local leaders but divided workersı strength in dealing
and elected public officials. The New Strength Unity Plan adopted by local
to the 2000 SEIU Convention mandated an end to that system and established
procedures for uniting membersı strength along industry lines.
These four changes have made it possible for SEIU to help more than a
workers add their strength to ours since 1996 the most successful
organizing record of
any union in American history. Our members set the standard for pay,
conditions, and quality care in the health care industry. As the New York
Times said about
us on October 30, 2007, ³After the union said it would not consider
who did not put forward a plan for universal health coverage, all the
candidates produced one.² We also were widely recognized in the news media
played the key role in getting agreement between Republican Gov.
the Democratic leaders of the California legislature on a plan to cover more
than 4 million
of the uninsured and set a precedent that could lead to coverage for
throughout the country.
Until recently, you participated in, approved of, and benefited from these
major changes in
o The members of our local unions, as well as all other SEIU locals,
of dollars, staff, political strength, and organizing leadership through our
Union to a four-year campaign that resulted in more than 15,000 Catholic
West workers having a union and a master contract as part of UHW.
o We all also contributed to the national strategies that resulted in
more than 13,000
workers in hospitals owned by Tenet becoming part of your local.
o With your enthusiastic support, the principles of the New Strength
Unity Plan were
applied to a democratic merger of the 27,000 members of Local 399 in
California with your local.
All in all, national strategies and national resources contributed by SEIU
outside California have played a major role in transforming what was Local
65,000 members into UHW with more than 130,000 members.
o Now, when it is time for UHW to help more healthcare workers join our
movement, all of a
sudden you don't want to apply the principle of strength in unity and
instead want to take
your ball and go home.
o Now that the hard-working members of our local unions have helped
strength in California, you bemoan being asked to do the same for workers in
of the country for everyoneıs benefit.
o Now you have a problem with there being one unified national
strategy to help
workers unite in Catholic hospitals, which represent 1 of every 7 hospital
beds in America.
o Now you have a problem with uniting the strength of all long-term
care workers in
o Now you have a problem with there being one unified strategy for
home workers gain a union and win improvements for themselves and their
o Now you leak unfounded letters to the news media that undermine the
bargaining strategy set by the National Nursing Home Unity Council in which
o Now when your support was needed to help Tenet workers outside
California gain a
union, the internal disunity you contributed to jeopardized that goal.
As you acknowledge in your resignation letter, the strategies to build more
unity that you oppose are strongly supported by an overwhelming majority of
SEIU local unions in general and the SEIU healthcare local unions in
particular. Instead of
accepting this and doing your part to make our united strategies succeed,
have sabotaged our joint decisions, attacked other SEIU leaders, and even
attend all or part of key meetings where decisions were being discussed.
Your pattern of refusing to participate in a unified decision-making process
perplexing given how much we all have to learn from each other. Last year
you helped 888
more workers unite in SEIU. You helped fewer workers unite with us last year
local union in Nevada and fewer in the past two years than our local in
though both of them have only a fraction of your membership base and must
so-called "right to work" for less states. In the last three years, your
success rate at
helping workers unite with us per organizing dollar spent has been less than
a quarter of
the average success rate for all SEIU local unions. To hold yourself out as
having the only
true vision of how to build workers' strength in America does not square
with the record.
With the 2008 SEIU Convention less than four months away, the local unions
of SEIU are
engaged in an exciting process to take the positive changes we have made
since 1996 to
the next level.
o We are building the countryıs first truly national union of
healthcare workers, already
more than 1 million strong and capable of eventually uniting the strength of
the 9 million
who have no union.
o We are building a grassroots movement to work with a new President
of the United
States and a new Congress next year to finally win affordable, quality
health care for all.
o We are helping to lead a broad-based movement to address growing
insecurity for working people while the top 1 percent enjoy the greatest
wealth in the
history of the world.
Achieving these goals will require more unity, not less more pooling of
resources, not less. This is no time to divide SEIU members' strength. The
of UHW should be represented at the table while we develop our collective
strategy for the
next four years and beyond.
We ask that you practice the principles of real democracy and commit
yourself to unity and
majority rule. If you have concerns you want to discuss, they should be
brought to the
National Health Care Steering Committee and the SEIU Executive Committee for
Conducting a continued campaign of distortion and division is a profound
disservice to the
members of your local union as well as to every member of SEIU and the
millions of not-
yet-organized workers in our industries and our country.
Whether you personally decide to participate constructively or to isolate
yourself and try to
divide and undermine, we are going to build on our past successes and create
and united movement that all working people and healthcare workers in
That is our responsibility and our mission, and we will continue to unite
all SEIU members
to achieve it.
Dave Regan, President Tom DeBruin, President Monica Russo,
SEIU District 1199WOK, SEIU Local 1199P, SEIU
Vice-President, SEIU Vice-President, SEIU Vice-President, SEIU