Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

SEIU Sticking It To Washington’s Taxpayers

This morning’s Seattle Times has a must-see report on a deal between officials from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and some of Washington’s healthcare providers. SEIU’s leaders are using their lobbying clout to push for more than $60 million in additional tax money to be directed to nursing homes, but the deal involves terms that may actually hurt union members.

One long-time SEIU leader has called such deals “the very antithesis of true rank-and-file unionism.” Here’s an excerpt from the Times report:

Under a confidential written agreement with several operators of for-profit nursing homes, Local 775 has promised to help push for more money, and in exchange, the companies have pledged to bless the union’s organizing efforts.

Although the main goal of the agreement is to pursue public money, its details have been kept secret. The Seattle Times recently obtained a draft copy of the agreement.

As part of the 10-year agreement, SEIU Local 775 promises no strikes and agrees to let the nursing-home operators — not the union or workers — decide which homes are offered up for organizing. The union also agreed not to try organizing more than half of a particular company’s nonunion homes.

In a true understatement, the paper reports “critics accuse the union of being too focused on adding new dues-paying members, and too willing to forsake workers and consumers.” Don’t forget that the tax money SEIU is lobbying for comes from, well, taxpayers.

As the Times notes, this follows on the heels of SEIU representing home health-care workers who negotiate with the state even though they are not public employees, an arrangement that has already cost taxpayers $250 million.

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