SEIU members in Canada remain determined

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Posted by on March 22, 2000 at 14:57:14:

from "Taking Charge" newsletter

March 17, 2000

SEIU Activists Remain Determined At an historic meeting on Feb 20 elected representatives from eight SEIU locals across Ontario representing 30,000 members voted unanimously in favour of a resolution to disaffiliate from the SEIU International Union and merge with the 243,000-member CAW. The next day in community meetings across Ontario, this decision was unanimously supported by over 800 local elected representatives from the eight locals.

Since then, the Washington-based SEIU placed the eight locals under trusteeship, suspended elected Local officers, terminated staff and seized the assets and property built up over years by our members in an obvious move to intimidate and coerce Canadian members. The International SEIU also proceeded to court in an attempt to stop any meetings and prevent members from voting. While the vote on disaffiliation was stopped by the court ruling, information meetings continued and a vote as to whether members supported their leaders' initiative with CAW- Canada proceeded.

These activists representing the elected Executive Boards of eight SEIU Locals met again on March 12th to review events and refine strategy in their efforts to take charge of their rightful destiny as Canadian workers.

SEIU Members Will Eventually Vote To Determine Their Future As Ken Brown, an SEIU International Vice-President before his resignation February 20, said in response to Washington's efforts to stop the March 2 votes, "With our continued determination to fight and the solidarity of the leadership and membership, we will win the right of a democratic vote to chart our future destiny." Of the 10,916 members attending the information meetings around the province, 10,788 stood with their former leadership in expressing their desire to leave SEIU and join with the CAW. CAW president Buzz Hargrove said he was not surprised by the strong show of support, citing the February 21 unanimous vote by elected local union leaders in favour of the move. "When you've got 800 elected union representatives who work closely with union members every day, unanimously in favour of a proposal, you know the membership is there as well" he said.

CAW Pledges Continued Support for Members' Right to Decide The CAW will be supporting the democratically elected leadership to ensure that these members eventually have a democratic vote to determine their future. "It's a shame the US-based union has stalled the process, but in the end the wishes of this membership will prevail," CAW president Buzz Hargrove said.


Local Yes No Spoiled Total Percentage

101 135 0 0 135 100%
183 795 28 5 828 96%
210 3,010 21 5 3,036 99%
220 4,465 33 1 4,499 99%
268 1,428 17 4 1,449 98.5%
528 355 0 0 355 100%
639 39 0 0 39 100%
777 561 8 6 575 97.5%
TOTAL 10,788 107 21 10,916 98.75%

The question on the ballot was:

In your opinion was the recommendation of your elected leadership to leave the SEIU and join the CAW in your best interest?
YES____ NO____

SEIU's slander campaign being derailed a.. a defamation suit has been filed against the SEIU for the allegedly slanderous and libellous comments directed at former presidents of the eight SEIU Locals; and particularly against Ken Brown, former SEIU International Vice President. Without any foundation in reality, the comments implied improper motive and conduct for personal gain, in what was a desperate bid by Washington's hired PR 'flaks' to smear the leadership of the eight Locals. Members demanding Trustee hold vote a.. petitions bearing almost 11,000 signatures from members of the eight SEIU Locals have been served on the Trustee, Sharleen Stewart demanding special Local meetings and a vote on disaffiliation by March 23. To date, the lawyers from Washington have only acknowledged receipt of the petition. b.. in the event the Trustee refuses to promptly comply with the wishes of our members, an application to the court will be made compelling her to honour the request. Trustee Sharleen Stewart has publicly commented that she no interest in holding such a vote any time soon. Members have been outraged by comments in the press by Stewart who said "I'm the one person who has all the power." Members attend spectacle of 'kangaroo' trustee hearings a.. members intend to speak before the trusteeship hearings being held on March 21 and 22 to support their elected leadership and to voice their opinions about the heavy-handed and dictatorial approach of the International and its Trustee. Members contribute to ousted Executive Board member to keep fighting a.. among many actions by members, including pickets in front of SEIU offices and letters to community newspapers; one gesture deserves special mention. In one workplace, donations collected from workers gathered $500 to assist their former Executive Board member return to the fray on their behalf to join the CAW. Members signing up with the CAW-Canada a.. applications for certification from bargaining units have begun to flood the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) as SEIU members sign membership cards seeking CAW-Canada representation. b.. members of SEIU covered by collective agreements currently in or approaching the 'open period' may apply to the OLRB for a Board-sponsored vote to replace SEIU with CAW-Canada as their bargaining agent. This year alone, some 30,000 SEIU members in Ontario will be eligible through such an 'open period' (from 60 days prior to the expiry or 3rd anniversary of their collective agreement) for such a vote to replace SEIU with the CAW. c.. more than 3,700 members are entitled to vote in Board-sponsored votes as a result of membership cards being signed and more than 40 applications made to the OLRB as of March 16 by the CAW. Trusteeship Justification Hearings The SEIU International Constitution at Article VIII, section 7(f) requires the International Executive Board appoint a hearing officer (who need not be a member of SEIU) to conduct a hearing within 30 days of the International President determining the need for an 'emergency' trusteeship. The International Executive Board must decide within 60 days of the appointment of the hearing officer, and the decision is final and binding, subject to review by an International Convention.

This is the only and the last opportunity for members to have their voices heard by SEIU in opposition to the trusteeship imposed (on the basis of the signatures of only 2 members in Canada). All remaining procedural steps will take place in the United States. Andy Stern will hear through these hearings what you think of his constitution and power over Canadian workers!

Contact your 'Taking Charge' newsletter team to ensure activities within your workplace, Local and community are reported for the benefit of other SEIU members charting our future destiny.

Corey Vermey 416-718-8498 416-587-0636(c) Jim Pare 416-718-8469 416-347-3994(c) 1-800-268-5763 416-495-3764(fax) We will report on the range of activity and events involving SEIU members Taking Charge of their destiny. Please share your stories and news with us.

WEB PREVIEW: CAW-CANADA Web Page Point your browser at the CAW web site home page for video and news on the Taking Charge campaign as well as a wealth of information on the activities of the CAW.

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