LOS ANGELES, Aug. 25 More than 100 nursing homeworkers and homecare workers who are members of SEIU Local 6434 gathered todayat the Oakland and Los Angeles offices of their parent union, SEIU. Theydemanded an independent investigation into corruption by Local 6434 PresidentTyrone Freeman, as well as any role national SEIU officials may have had; theright to choose their own leaders instead of having them appointed by SEIUofficials in Washington, D.C.; and a stop to SEIU's forced restructuring oflocal unions until member control is restored.
Freeman was appointed to run Local 6434 by SEIU President Andy Stern andSecretary-Treasurer Anna Burger, and supported with staff and money fromWashington, DC. A Los Angeles Times investigation recently revealed he spentunion members' dues on an exclusive cigar club, a golf tournament, and payoutsto his family and friends.
"We are outraged at the abuse of our trust and misuse of our union dues byAndy Stern and Anna Burger's appointee," said Karen Linzy, a homecare workerwho lives in Inglewood. "Our leaders should be accountable to healthcareworkers in California, not to union officials in Washington, D.C."
Members of the local have been denied the right to choose their leadershipsince Stern and Burger installed Freeman in 1998 as president of Local 434B.In 2006, SEIU restructured local unions in California, putting Freeman incharge of the largest local union in the state. The U.S. Department of Laborhas launched an investigation into rigged election rules that made itimpossible for members to run for union office unless they were chosen byFreeman.
Prior to the Times investigation, Stern and Burger had been moving forwardwith another restructuring plan to move 75,000 more members into Freeman'slocal without a fair vote.
Weeks after the misuse of funds at Local 6434 was revealed, Stern andBurger replaced Freeman with John Ronches, an assistant to Burger fromWashington, D.C. who has no experience with long-term care workers. SEIU hasinsisted they will investigate the matter themselves using internal unionprocedures.
"For a union to be the voice of its members, members must have a voice inour union," Linzy said. "There should be no more forced reorganization of ourlocal unions until an independent investigation is complete and control ofLocal 6434 is returned to its members. Appointing yet another Washingtoninsider accountable only to Stern and Burger is more of the same."
SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers - West