All posts by unionrudy

1000 Hospital Workers Stick With SEIU-UHW

Barely one week after a federal jury unanimously found NUHW, Rosselli, Lewis, and the other defendants liable to UHW for over $1.5 million, following a two week trial that exposed their corruption and deceit, NUHW is dealt another devastating blow. By withdrawing from the NLRB election at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, California, NUHW only sped up by a few days what would have been the inevitable result – another win for workers represented by SEIU-UHW!

No matter how hard Rosselli’s propaganda machine tries to hide it, each day that passes by reveals that NUHW is losing steam, and after 15 months of having gained NOTHING for even a single healthcare worker in California, these “union reformers'” sole achievement has been discrediting their short lived experiment and “leaving their honor behind.”

The hardworking members at St. Francis have reclaimed their hospital and can now return to doing what they do best, taking care of the sick. We, your brothers and sisters in the Daughters of Charity network of hospitals, working in the other facilities congratulate you! We too look forward to reclaiming our facilities, returning to normal, and finally being liberated from the unnecessary distractions that have tried to hurt us this past year. See you at the same bargaining table in 2012!


SEIU-UHW vs NUHW Closing Arguments: For SEIU, It’s Still About Rules Being Broken

For SEIU, It’s Still About Rules Being Broken:

When the trial started two weeks ago, it was clearly stated what this was all about. It was about rules, the dangers of thinking you can be above them, and the consequences for then refusing to follow them. In his opening arguments, Gary Kholman, attorney for the 150,000 members that were abandoned by Rosselli and his co-defendants, told the jury that he will lay out evidence that showed how the defendants, in reaction to “constitutional mandates” placed upon them by the international, began to plot and put into motion a set of premeditated actions in response. The sole purpose of these actions by the defendants was to pilfer the union’s treasury, hijack the local’s valuable information network, and ultimately steal members away and put them into a new organization with shady beginnings. In the two weeks that followed those opening statements by Mr. Kholman, witness after witness after witness came forward to testify. They told how they were recruited to either lie to and cheat members out of due representation, or how they were intimidated into cooperation. Mountains of documents, many from the defendants’ own hands, were put into evidence. We read secret e-mails, task lists, minutes and notes of meetings, correspondence, and watched videos that showed the evolution of this “great plan” of these 26 OUTSIDERS that sought to destroy our union of over eighty years.

In his closing arguments today, Kholman again reminded the jury what this has always been about rules and consequences. These defendants always had three honorable options before them;

–         Accept the rules and abide by them

–         Work within the system to change the rules

–         Leave the organization

Instead, they chose a fourth, dishonorable option, to defy the rules and breach the rules that govern our union. The means they used to reach that end were equally dishonorable! Taking members’ dues monies off the books into a secret slush fund, pirating our confidential information into a shadow database, and creating secret groups that held clandestine meetings. Appalling as that is, the worst offense they made against us was to lie to us and then recruit us as pawns in their sinister scheme.

In society, and the organizations within them, rules are what bind us together and keep  us from falling into chaos. Regardless how one felt about the 2000 Bush v Gore election drama, it was because rules were in place that an “orderly transition” occurred from one president to the next. Hard as it may have been for Gore to accept the result, can you imagine what shambles our democracy would be put into if he had decided to not accept or abide by it and instead conspired to have the “blue states” secede? That’s what Rosselli and the others are trying to do.

For NUHW, It’s Still About Distraction and Distortion:

Two weeks ago Dan Siegel, attorney for Rosselli and his co-defendants, chose to talk about what this trial was NOT about. He wanted to talk about Andy Stern, his salary and a book he wrote. He wanted to preach about democracy and tyranny. He told us how his clients’ actions were “motivated by patient care.” These attempts to distract the jury only got him stiff admonishments from the judge who then instructed him to follow the rules. Throughout the trial, he offered no evidence to refute our claims against his clients…only spin. He put forth witnesses that proudly verified claims of violent actions, then insinuated the victims were to blame. On the stand, his clients broke down, and Rosselli himself became as nervous as a “sinner in church!”

In his closing arguments today, Siegel offered nothing new…only spin. He spoke about gazing at the stars and pondered the horoscope signs they formed. He dipped his feet into various conspiracy theories like the government’s involvement in 9-11 and the CIA’s role in the Kennedy assassination. From this, he gathered that SEIU our union of over eighty years, is like Iran. He defended his clients’ obstructive actions as mere “expression,” saying they cannot be held accountable for them, but then referred to them as “terrible conspirators.”  Mr. Siegel obviously has never stepped foot in any of our facilities, this much was evident when he had the nerve to ask “Did anything horrible really happen?”  The answer to that Mr. Siegel, YES!!! Ask any of the 150,000 members your clients left behind.

SEIU-UHW vs. NUHW day 11: A milestone reached

With both sides resting their cases, a milestone has been reached in the federal lawsuit against ousted SEIU-UHW President Sal Rosselli and his 25 co-defendants. The case is being tried in federal court in San Francisco before U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup.

Ms. “Ungovernable Situation” Takes The Stand:

Barbara Lewis, author of the now infamous “Ungovernable Situation” memo, which plotted out leaving our union in chaos after they were ousted from power, took the stand. From her we learned how she spent $41, 871 at Kinko’s to print decertification petitions. When asked if she put her staff on “Code Orange,” she replied that she could not recall. However, a January 22, 2009 memo was shown where she instructed trusted staff to:

–     Always be accessible by phone

–     Not to plan for any sleep – OUCH!

–     Be on 24 hour standby

And yes, she did say “Code Orange.” She was asked if as high ranking officer of UHW how she felt about trusteeship being imposed to which she said very saddened by the whole situation. Mr. Kohlman then showed a video clip where she called it “A great day for our union.” Ooops.

“Define Forming”

NUHW co-founder John Borsos was one of the final witnesses in the case. Despite his lack of recollect, the jury was shown a memo where lawyers advised him to “lay low” about active resistance to the international. He was told to “launder” it through an intermediary. At one point Mr. Kohlman asked him if one still works for one union and uses the resources of that union to start forming a new union, would he consider that stealing. His answer “depends on how you define forming.” He then insisted that despite the similarities between this case and the Colcord case of 2005, it’s a different situation. Different, apparently, because he’s the one on the hot seat.

(Colcord case: In 2005 three organizers while still employed by UHW used union resources such as the member database among other stuff to form a new union to organize EMT workers at AMR. Rosselli and UHW sued the three and won a judgment against them. In this trial, UHW makes the same claim, that Rosselli and the other defendants used UHW resources to form NUHW while they were still the top officers/employees of UHW.)

Tomorrow we will hear the closing arguments and the judge will give the jury instructions they will use for their deliberations.

Day 9 of the NUHW trial: Sal in the Hot Seat

Attorneys representing the 150,000 California healthcare workers represented by SEIU-UHW against Sal Rosselli and NUHW did such a great job laying a solid foundation for our case that it has the lawyers for Rosselli and the 27 other alleged conspirators scrambling for cover. It seems like the only highlight of the day for them is 12:59 pm, when the trial ends for the day. Earlier this week, I overheard a conversation in the hallway where one of their staffers mentioned how the plaintiff’s allotted time was running short, while Rosselli, Borsos and others had over three hundred more minutes than us (each side was given 18 hours to put on their case). As of today however, only ninety minutes separate the two sides, and they still have over twenty more defendants to take the stand in their defense. Add to that, an array of “character witnesses” made up of politicians whose campaigns have at one time or another benefited from Sal and company. 😉

Sal In The Hot Seat

If Rosselli took comfort in his lawyer’s soft and cozy direct examination, Mr. Kohlman gave him a rude awakening. With the very first question he began to grill the witness.

Yesterday, when asked why contract extensions at several nursing homes were canceled just days before the trusteeship, he replied that he had no knowledge that defendant Vellardita did that. He went on to acknowledge that the trustee had the legal authority to access the union’s offices and assets in order to service the members. He also acknowledged the duties and responsibilities he had to uphold the constitutions of UHW and SEIU. Among those duties were not just to comply with the decision of the International Executive Board, but to also ensure an orderly transition of authority to the trustees. He failed in both these instances. From the stand he admitted that while he was aware of the mob attacks on the offices in Alameda and LA, and that they were led by members of his senior staff, he did nothing. He also admitted that he was aware that members and staff were squatting overnight at UHW offices throughout the state and that they had chained and padlocked the doors shut (fire hazard), but he did nothing. And that he knew those inside were given the deed to the offices and expenses for these “sleepovers” were paid by our dues monies, he still did nothing. Nothing was more disturbing to hear than when he was asked if it was inappropriate for union officers or employees to keep our personal information in databases outside of our union, and he said “…hmm, I’m not sure about that.”

Go Gary Go!

Once again today , Kohlman delivered. Yesterday Rosselli testified that he knew what was going on, and today he couldn’t seem to recall much – he can’t remember meetings, memos, lists, phone calls, people, places or things. He wasn’t sure if he got a memo from Laura Kurrie instructing senior staff on talking points for the bogus outside fund they put $3 million of our money into (the PEF) in case the International asked. He wasn’t sure what John Borsos would tell a crowd of hand-picked members in a January 24, 2009 mega meeting. Heck, he couldn’t recall how the members at those meetings were selected to attend (they were assessed as loyal to him and most receptive to his message.) He can’t recall who ordered the UHW data base to be scrambled. He can’t recall what happened at a December 6, 2009 meeting he attended where work plans for creating a new union were being worked out. He can’t recall if his special assistant Dan Martin set up an office in his home with a computer system that could access the UHW mainframe without the IT department even knowing.

He can’t recall receiving an e-mail with an attachment that had a membership list of over 20,000 Kaiser workers, but remembers not opening it. He can’t recall if he read a letter to SEIU President Andy Stern trying to reach out and resolve differences. Clearly, this witness was very uncomfortable today; he fidgeted in his chair and coughed after every question as if trying to buy time to find some answer.

“Stay The F*** Out!”

When he first approached the stand, former union rep from the hospital division, Andy Reid, looked like a boy scout from a time long gone by. He spoke of the ideals and passion that brought him to UHW, collaborative efforts, and how the union is bigger than any one person. But that didn’t last long. When confronted with a memo he received from Barbara Lewis telling him to instruct stewards to tell new incoming staff to “Get the F*** out!” his demons just had to come out. In a loud voice for the judge, jury and all to hear, he blurted out “They should get the F*** out of my hospital!!!” He then explained how he recruited followers to sleep at the San Jose office to resist the trusteeship.

NUHW Witness Verifies Key SEIU Testimony

She must have thought she was being slick or just plain cute, but Beverly Griffith only ended up corroborating a key element of the SEIU case. The former steward from Alta Bates in Oakland and as of today, an NUHW staff member, testified how she “led” the mob of 50-60 rioters that attacked the Alameda SEIU office on January 20, 2009. When they were greeted at the door by the security guard, she told them “We’re coming in!” Then she and the others started to push their way in. She acknowledged the guard being shoved to the ground as the mob made its way in, “I just jumped over him” Griffith told the jury. She then began to “have conversations” with the workers, ordering them to “Go back to Washington D.C. (even though most were not from D.C.), you opened a Pandora’s box and it will not close!” As Rasheda Anthony told last week how defendant Goldstein tried to snatch confidential documents out of her hand, and defendant Krystal shoved her into a desk, Griffith, testified that they were present at the altercation. She also told the jury how this was not the first time she was violent at union activities.

SEIU-UHW vs. Sal Rosselli and 24 other NUHW officials – Federal Court in San Francisco Day 7

NUHW Wants Stewards To Collect Back Dues:

In finishing up his cross examination of UHW Finance Director, Edgard Cajina, NUHW attorney asked why UHW is seeking damages for lost dues from NUHW when the dues are ultimately owed by the workers. Mr. Cajina explained that the cost involved of taking action to collect dues from individual members would be greater than the amount collected and that it would not be feasible. As if it were not enough to ask that the union sue individual members, Mr. Siegel went as far as to suggest that shop stewards should go around their facilities collecting money from their co-workers.

“Don’t Spend Time With the Members:”

We heard testimony from more UHW staff members that were told to turn out members to meetings, create lists with our confidential information, and teach members how to be confrontational. Abby Reeve explained how working for defendant Barbara Lewis she could  dedicate only 30% of her time to representing members at grievances and bargaining. May Ann Durazo from the Homecare Division was invited by defendant Gabe Krystal to attend a “secret meeting” in early January 2009 where Rosselli was to speak about a “great plan.” But she started to ask questions, and the defendants didn’t like that so they withdrew their invitation.

Durazo continued to say how in early January 2009, she found herself dedicating most of her time (90%) to charting facilities, handing out flyers, and encouraging members to turn out for meetings,  versus only 10% doing actual representational work like processing grievances. When she expressed concern to her division director, defendant Vellardita, he told her, “Don’t spend time with the members.” Alex Espinoza from the hospital division added to this pattern when he told the jury how he too found himself representing members less and representing the interests of Sal more. He went on to say how a couple days before the trusteeship, and after the attack on the LA office where a mob stole confidential documents, defendant Lewis confronted him about information coming her way where he was “assessed as a 1,” meaning he had been labeled an SEIU supporter. Lewis then quizzed him about his employment plans after a trusteeship. Not making any accusations how this information came her way, but read yesterday’s post about witness (Nancy Stengel’s) testimony about the raid on the L.A. SEIU office and who they gave stolen documents to.

Lynn Templeton an operations coordinator at the Oakland office told how defendant Phyllis Willett told her to figure out the costs of buying the cell phones we mentioned yesterday. She continued to say how at Willet’s instruction she was to alter the contract for these phones so they would be purchased by the Patient Education Fund (the bogus fund set up by the defendant’s with $3 million of our dues money) not SEIU-UHW. In her testimony, she also told how Willett told her to remove from her office documents relating to the PEF.

Philip Rodokanakis, an expert in the field of computer forensics, recounted his analysis of the computer used by John Borsos. He determined that there were “many irregularities.” Of 5,700 e-mails that were “double deleted” he was able to recover 3,000. In the computer used by Fred Seavey he discovered that the user registry file was missing, also gone were event logs and Windows was (re)installed in February 2009. The biggest surprise was the discovery of a document he named “NUHW Staff List.” This document was created on January 21, 2009, six days before trusteeship when Seavey was still employed by SEIU-UHW. For the past week the defense has maintained that they were just expressing opposition to the International’s decision to move 65,000 long term care workers out of UHW and the trusteeship that followed their refusal, but this demonstrates how they were already working to undermine the union they worked for and betray us, the members.

Dumbest Question of the Day;

While cross examining Mr. Cajina, a native of Nicaragua, NUHW attorney Jose Luis Fuentes asked him, “Did you know Daniel Ortega?” FYI..Ortega is the current president of Nicaragua and also served in that capacity from 1985-1990.

Day 5 at the SEIU-UHW/NUHW Trial: NUHW Attorney Frustrated By Witness

NUHW Attorney Frustrated By Witness:

In finishing up his cross exam of Security consultant Jerry Bullock, Mr. Siegel was not able to determine what security officers observed former staff eating for lunch on January 24, 2009. His frustration grew as he was also not able to establish if $20 is too much money for a T-shirt…Keep your eye on the prize.

They Changed The Colors:

Two more members testified today about how they were recruited by the defendants to make our union “ungovernable.” Anita Torres a homecare worker and steward told the jury how a NUHW staffer gave her a membership list complete with personal information like where people work, address, and phone numbers. Like previous witnesses that also received such lists to move decertification petitions, Torres told the court that in the past phone banking was done in the union hall and she had never gotten such a list with so much detailed information to take home with her. Nancy Stengel a member and steward at Kaiser told the jury how on January 21, 2009 just one day after the violent attack on the Alameda office defendant Lewis car pooled her and other members to the LA office to “picket” there.

Disappointed that there was no SEIU staff to knock down there too, the mob of about thirty people then started to take whatever documents they could find so they could then give them to defendant Lewis. An altercation occurred between a security officer and the mob of 30 when they refused to leave. Ms. Stengel told the court that she too received a complete Orange County membership list with address, and phone number for her to keep at home. She went on to say that she was asked to stay in the union office overnight and was instructed by defendant Krivosh how to chain and padlock the doors shut while she and other members slept inside (Fire Hazard!). The court went on to learn how at the 2008 Leadership Assembly in San Jose the people were already seeing red posters and red shirts everywhere. Some at the conference were led to think that the union had abandoned purple. If the former leaders value “union democracy” so much, why then did they impose a gag order on recording and video taping at the conference? Makes you wonder where Rosselli learned about the principles of democracy…perhaps China, maybe Cuba,

Follow The Money:

In May of 2007 defendant Dan Martin asked Edgard Cajina, UHW Director of Finance,  how much cash was on hand. A few days later he instructed Cajina to prepare a transfer of one million dollars of members’ dues from the UHW treasury and place it into Rosselli’s secret fund, the “Patient Education Fund” (PEF). Martin explained that Rosselli would present the transfer to the executive board for approval. Flash forward to February 5, 2008, Martin instructed Cajina to transfer another two million into the PEF. When Cajina questioned the request, Martin replied, “Do what Sal says!”  February 15, 2008, two conflicting contracts arrived to Cajina’s attention for Sprint Blackberry phones, one signed by defendant Phyllis Willet on behalf of UHW, the other by defendant Joan Emslie on behalf of the PEF. Ten days later, after another large cell phone purchase, Cajina asked Willet about why there were so many phone purchases, and she replied that it was so the defendants could communicate after the trusteeship was imposed. Mr. Cajina went on to tell how he was instructed by Emslie not to cooperate with SEIU representatives who were reviewing the union’s books and to withhold information from them.

With so much evidence piling up against these conspirators, it’s no wonder that the cocky smiles have begun to thin out. I imagine it’s hard to keep following a lost cause which began under questionable circumstances by shady leaders.

Day 5 at the SEIU-UHW/NUHW Trial: NUHW Undemocratic From the Start

At the trial in the federal lawsuit against Sal Rosselli and the other ousted leaders of SEIU-UHW, Leon Chow, a onetime member of the secretly formed UHW staff group Shakers & Makers, told the court that in a January 28, 2009 meeting Rosselli announced the new “union” and that it would be called NUHW. When asked if the group voted for that name, he replied that it was announced and that no vote took place over the issue. What happened to “union democracy?”

Vellardita “Hostile & Uncooperative”:

Prior to the Trusteeship on January 27, 2009, Eliseo Medina contacted officers of the three locals that would be affected by the International’s jurisdictional decision on long term care workers. While unhappy about the situation, both Locals 6434 and 521 met with Medina and cooperated with the his request that they turn over information and documents to help implement the decision of the international executive board. However, in a January 15, 2009 meeting with Vellardita over the same issue, UHW officials at the time were “hostile and uncooperative.” Medina went on to tell how Vellardita just wanted to talk about how the decision was not right and refused to provide any requested information.  In his cross examination, Dan Siegel, council for the defendants, led by asking about Mr. Medina’s salary and how he struggled alongside Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta in the 60’s and 70’s. When he got back on track to what the case was really about he asked about his meetings with leaders of Locals 6434 and 521. Again Medina testified of their cooperation with the decision of the executive board.

You Don’t Just Start a New Union In One Day:

Eliseo Medina as an executive vice president of the international was one of the appointed trustees of UHW. He spoke about how he proceeded to initiate the trusteeship on and around January 27, 2009. In the notice, staff, officers and executive board members were instructed that all union property and documents in their possession or control was to be surrendered back to UHW, something many failed to do. When Siegel asked Medina if there was anything wrong with Rosselli forming a new union, Medina said “no, but in my forty four years of experience in the labor movement I know this much…you don’t just start a new union from the ground up in one day!” I have to agree, a trip to Costco takes me at least two days to plan out, let alone organizing workers in many facilities throughout California to abandon SEIU after eighty years of representing the healthcare industry.

NUHW Resorts To Violence:

The courtroom was shocked to hear how Rasheda Anthony, a UHW administrative assistant, was working in a temporary office in Alameda on January 19, 2009 when defendant Goldstein tried to force his way in. The next day on January 20, 2009 a crowd of about fifty NUHW supporters marched on the same office led by NUHW leaders and defendants Goldstein, Vellardita, and Krystal. They became violent and as the office manager she became very concerned for the safety of the other workers. They forced themselves inside and overpowered the lone security officer and trampled him to the floor, “he was on the floor in a fetal position trying to protect his head.” At this point a desperate call was made to 911. In the commotion, Ms. Anthony tried to secure confidential documents that had contact information of new staff and where they were being housed at. She told how defendant Goldstein tried to snatch the papers out of her hand and told her “Don’t do this!” when another rioter whom she identified as defendant Krystal rushed her from behind and shoved her up against a desk. At this point she heard an office worker yell “Get off her!” At this point the rioters left chanting “We’ll be back!”

As she was telling the jury of her ordeal that day, a spectator sitting in the NUHW side of the room got up and walked out with an embarrassed and disgusted look on her face. Not even five minutes later, another did the same thing. It just shows how it never is too late to see through NUHW’s web of lies. It is interesting how this act of cowardice happened on January 20, 2009, the same day Obama was being sworn into office…while he was offering hope…NUHW and its leaders only offered terror.

Day 4 at the SEIU-UHW/NUHW Trial: “Shakers and Makers”

Shakers & Makers – this was the name of a covert group of senior staffers in the Homecare Division that was formed in 2008 for the purpose of creating lists and planning for a possible trusteeship. Leon Chow, a one time member of this group, told the jury how he was recruited to identify and build a group of leaders to fight SEIU. At defendant John Vellardita’s direction, the group compiled a list of homecare workers and distributed it to select loyal followers who would use them to phone bank members…from their homes. This was a change in past practice when phone banking was done in the union hall and members’ personal informational was closely guarded.

The S&M group communicated through private e-mail accounts so no record of subversive activities would be on the UHW server. After “loyal” member followers were identified, Mr. Chow was instructed to perform a 1:1 assessment to confirm their loyalty to the defendant Sal Rosselli. These assessments were NOT to be turned over to clerical staff at UHW so that the assessments would not be entered in the UHW database.

At Vellardeta’s instruction, UHW staff members who were in Shakers & Makers were not to “expense” their out-of-pocket costs for this group’s activities. They were furthermore instructed to not enter their S&M participation in their weekly activity reports. So covert were the activities of this group that in preparation for a meeting on January 19, 2009 (a week before trusteeship) Vellardita instructed members who were driving to a meeting that day to not leave directly from the union’s Oakland office just in case they were under surveillance. Mr. Chow went on to testify that in a January 10, 2009 senior staff meeting, Rosselli brought forth the issue of “disaffiliation” from SEIU. A template for a disaffiliation petition was presented at this meeting. Rosselli did acknowledge that it would be improper for officers of the union to raise this issue, so, wink, wink, it would have to come from rank & file members. Mr. Chow will be testifying more about that tomorrow…guess what followed?

In other testimony, Lisa Gude, who was trying to negotiate nursing home contracts after the trusteeship was imposed, found it difficult to find necessary bargaining notes and other documents. Only after a court ordered him to do so did Mark Kipfer, her predecessor and a defendant in the case, return the necessary files. Jackie Peppars, a member from Fresno homecare, told how she and other members were encouraged to stop their COPE contributions. Kevin Hall, her former union rep, gave her a list of members to contact from home. Ms. Peppars told the jury how “something did not feel right” so she stopped calling halfway thru. That’s when she knew something was wrong.

The courtroom saw video footage of large audience meeting in Sacramento where the audience was mesmerized. This seemed painful for some in the room to watch. Perhaps it was a reminder of other “false leaders” who have led people down dangerous paths.

NUHW/SEIU-UHW Trial: “Even Angels Cannot Steal”

Once again, Mr. Dan Siegel, counsel for the defendants, attempted to sidetrack the trial and go into areas that he had been previously told were not to go into. Talking about the trusteeship….BAD. Again Judge William Alsup quickly reigned him in and instructed the jury that what is not at hand were the merits of the trusteeship. “Even if the defendants were the angels and the plaintiffs were the devils…it does not matter because even angels cannot steal,” the judge said, because the issue in front of the jury  is whether the defendants stole union property and assets and sabotaged UHW while on its payroll.

Oriana Saportas, a UHW organizer, explained to the jury that just before trusteeship, workers at Santa Rosa Memorial who had been trying to organize were told about an “island option” as a choice in their bid to become a union hospital. The implication is that the “island option” was code for a new union. Oriana Saportas, an organizer on that campaign, told the jury of meetings that happened where this was brought up. The meeting was attended by defendant Glenn Goldstein. She went on to say how defendant Peter Tappeiner, to whom she reported, instructed her to back up membership and campaign files from the union’s computer into an external drive. At some point he also instructed her to go to Kinko’s and Xerox all the worker “contact sheets.”

On the stand today were two shop stewards, Denny Henriques from Sutter Delta and Jenny Edney from Kaiser Vallejo. They both told how prior to trusteeship the former leaders, now defendants, instructed them “not to engage” any new union staff that may come into their facilities after the trusteeship. Prior to the trusteeship, they were given “decertification petitions” and told to gather signatures using membership lists provided for them by a defendant

Labor Trial: “It’s about rules being broken.”

“It’s about rules being broken.” As simple as that statement may be, it encapsulates what this case is about. With that, Mr. Gary Kholman – lead attorney for UHW in our lawsuit against Sal Rosselli and the other officials who were kicked out of our union – painted for the jury a pattern of decisions the defendants made and the events that followed since the report by Leonard Page in August 2008 recommending that 65,000 long term care workers be removed out of Sal Rosselli’s jurisdiction and into a Local of their own within SEIU.

Knowing that not abiding by the decision of the International would jeopardize their power, the defendants started to hold secret meetings to plot, Kohlman said in his opening argument.  Kohlman outlined different steps in the misuse of the union’s funds, including the presentation of a knowingly false defense to the trusteeship when it came to their reasons for creating the PEF (“Patient Education Fund”). The defendants also scrambled the membership database, began looking for “offsite” office space, and improperly tapped into the union’s computer system so they could access it from their homes and bypass the union’s IT department. In September 2008, they started to formulate a cover up, and a plan to make the Local “ungovernable.” At the same time, field reps were instructed – rather than represent members – to develop networks of stewards and other loyal followers that would circulate decertification/disaffiliation petitions.

Days prior to trusteeship in late January 2009 they hired a security firm to specifically keep the International staff out, encouraged stewards to continue circulating decertification petitions and recruited members to chain themselves to the offices and prevent an orderly transfer of authority. On January 28, 2009 barely one day after the defendants were relieved of the top positions they once held, they announced the formation of NUHW.

In his opening argument for the defense, Mr. Siegel tried to argue the merits of the trusteeship, something that earned him Judge Alsup’s admonishment…again. He then said Rosselli was motivated by his concern of protecting patient care and how UHW grew to 150,000 during his tenure. He went on to say that Rosselli/Borsos returned all but $150,000 of the $3M to the general fund, while SEIU only wants dues money…In other words, his clients’ actions were justified cause the “boogeyman” was out to get them. When he spoke of the new union NUHW, he admitted, that the name was not by accident, because they want members to think the new union is like the old union…even though it’s nothing close.

In his testimony as the first witness, Hal Ruddick explained to the jury how after the 2005 Colcord case where three former union staff tried to form another union while they were still employed by UHW, all employees and officers had to sign confidentiality agreements. He went on to tell how he and other incoming staff were unable to access the offices or find important files needed to represent members. When he first came out immediately after the trusteeship, Mr. Ruddick was staying in a hotel nearby and came back from work one evening only to find a threatening flier under his room door.

Quite disturbing was testimony of Latasha Winslow-Beavers, who was an organizer in the Kaiser Division. She told the jury how just prior to trusteeship she found herself directed by her superiors to dedicate her efforts to creating a “Rapid Response Team” that could be called at a moment’s notice to keep the International out! Only 30% of her time was to be for actual member representation. After trusteeship, she returned to work at Kaiser as a member where she was harassed by her former UHW director, defendant Jason Johnson.