Tuesday, June 3, 2008


STEVEN GREENHOUSE, NY TIMES As 2,000 convention delegates gather in Puerto Rico, the Service Employees International Union is about to jettison a time-honored union tradition - having members go to their union representatives with their questions and grievances. The delegates are expected to vote to have union members rely on call centers instead to handle their problems.

Union officials say these 24-hour centers would provide the union's members with faster and more expert service, usually in their own language, and would free up union representatives to focus on the union's No. 1 goal: organizing more workers.

But some union leaders and members complain that the call centers would hurt the union and its members.

"Sometimes you can't get through to these centers," said Eva Lozada, a home-care worker from Oakland, Calif. "It's like talking to an A.T.M. This will be bad for the union."

This is just one of the complaints that Andrew L. Stern, the union's president, faces as he seeks to transform the union, already the nation's fastest growing, to make it grow even faster. . .

"He's taking things in a bad direction because he's taking steps without involving any workers," said Sal Rosselli, president of United Healthcare Workers West, which represents 140,000 S.E.I.U. members in California. . .

In recent months, the union's top leaders have come under fire for accepting lower increases in wages and benefits in some hospital contracts in exchange for the hospital corporations' agreeing not to fight unionization drives at some of their hospitals. Moreover, the union's leaders have been criticized for negotiating secret deals with some employers that gave the service employees the green light to organize workers at certain locations designated by the employer, while the union made some concessions on pay or other areas.

Those moves have some members complaining that they have been left in the dark. But Mr. Stern's allies say those moves are innovative strategies to speed union growth.



At June 3, 2008 7:31 PM, Anonymous St. Louis District Carpenters Council is a fraud. said...

Nobody, other than union members who aren't selling out their fellow members by having their noses up the asses of the "business agents", seem to understand that unions are failing because they serve the needs of leadership rather than membership and are little different than "company unions".


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