The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is currently directing its political lackeys in the California State Legislature to advance a bill that makes it harder for franchisors to change, revoke, or fail to renew contracts with their franchisees. This political fight has created a bizarre alliance between SEIU, which has spent something on the order of $50 million trying to make franchisees’ lives more difficult with union labor rules, and a handful of franchisees annoyed at provisions of their franchise contracts.
The disaffected franchisees shouldn’t trust SEIU for numerous reasons—the union, after all, wants to saddle their operations with massive hikes in their number-one cost, labor.
More important, though, is the fact that the SEIU has zero credibility to criticize franchisors who are interested in revoking the contracts of their franchisees. The SEIU specializes in aggressive shut-downs of independent subordinates, in California in particular. Numerous SEIU locals in California have been dismembered, abolished, or merged under pressure from SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and her predecessor, the infamous Andy Stern.
- Henry is currently attempting to shore up her leadership by splitting a chunk of SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) members into a new local with handpicked leadership, Local 2015.
- Henry placed Workers United, SEIU Local 50 into trusteeship—rule by a handpicked board—after its executive board moved to disaffiliate from SEIU.
- Stern announced a plan to move thousands of long-term care workers from SEIU UHW and SEIU Local 521 into SEIU Local 6434, under the leadership of handpicked Stern crony Tyrone Freeman. Freeman would later be deposed by the union, charged by the feds, and sentenced to prison for corruption, including allegedly stealing member dues to pay for his wedding in Hawaii.
- After a very loud dispute with SEIU UHW leader Sal Rosselli over a series of reorganizations (including the Local 6434 reorganization) that reduced Rosselli’s membership ranks, Stern deposed Rosselli and put UHW into trusteeship. Rosselli broke with SEIU and formed his own union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which is now part of the AFL-CIO.
- SEIU under Andy Stern merged four local janitors’ unions into a new “district council,” SEIU United Service Workers West, which took control of substantial portions of the locals’ finances and curtailed their autonomy.
- SEIU UHW was formed by the merger of SEIU Local 250 and SEIU Local 399, in accordance with an SEIU policy adopted in the early 2000s that local unions should be consolidated into state- and region-wide mega-locals by industry groups.
In truth, SEIU is an exceptionally aggressive “franchisor” of its ostensibly autonomous and democratic “local” unions, even as it claims to want to rein in restaurant and other business franchisors. This staggering hypocrisy shows that franchisees should beware of unions, especially when they’re bearing gifts.