Tag Archives: SEIU-UHW West

SEIU-UHW West’s Delegate Selection Mistake

I wanted to clarify SEIU-UHW West’s Delegate voting issues. I serve on the election committee and this is my personal “mia culpa”, or as the popular vernacular would say, “Am I Bad?” The executive board of SEIU-UHW West has 5 volunteer members, including myself, serving on the election committee to oversee a 150,000-member election.

We had several meetings to establish guidelines for eligibility and one of the questions raised was how, once the membership was informed that the convention was being held in Puerto Rico, do we conduct an election that best served the members while avoiding a run of hopefuls in search only of a free vacation to Puerto Rico?

I believe it was a legitimate question as we were not only acting as an election committee but as Stewards of our fellow members money, and as such wanted to do everything possible to spend dues money wisely. As you can well imagine it will not be cheap to send close to 200 people to Puerto Rico and house them for 4 days on behalf of the members of SEIU-UHW West.

We, as a volunteer member committee asked legal counsel if it would be appropriate and legal to require people to be stewards in order to run as a delegate. Our legal counsel stated in NO uncertain terms that this was lawful because the members at large democratically elected stewards.

Our biggest concern was to ensure adequate representation of our members not to disenfranchise them. Hindsight is always 20/20 and had we been experts in labor law we obviously would have made a different decision. But we are not experts in labor law, we are healthcare workers and patient advocates volunteering our spare time. At this very moment we are volunteering our time to remedy this mistake and will be working around the clock to re-run an election in accordance with applicable Labor law.

Now I would like to contrast that with the SEIU 1021 debacle in which you clearly had staff involved in the election process, with the blessing of SEIU, pushing for specific candidates and subverting the candidates that weren’t “on board” with the International agenda. There are at least some very gray areas here but do you see SEIU urging them to run a second election to avoid the appearance of impropriety? NOPE!!!!

Also interesting to note is that we (SEIU-UHW West) are being harangued for the very process that Andy Stern and other SEIU officers are fighting to protect. The International officers and Mr. Stern are elected every 4 years by a delegate process not a full membership vote. In that respect I believe that the international is making our “One Member One Vote” argument for us. The delegate process for electing officers at all levels should be abolished. Our mistake in the delegate selection process only demonstrates how flawed and endemic this methodology is within SEIU.

To my fellow SEIU-UHW West members who may feel disenfranchised by the delegate selection process I offer my sincerest apology and please know that we are all working very hard on the second election and, if need be, I will again gladly fly from Southern California to Oakland on a moments notice and open, sort, count, and certify thousands of ballots on my day off of work.

Michael T. Rivera, R.C.P.

Perinatal-Pediatric Specialist (Note: Not a Labor Lawyer)

SEIU-UHW West Executive Board Vice President