Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

SEIU Favors Dues Over Democracy

seiu-dsc0490.jpgThe Service Employees International Union (SEIU) touts itself as “democratic” and “equitable.” It may need to consult a dictionary.

SEIU Local 221 in San Diego held an internal officer election last December. Union members protested the results of the election after just 41 of the 5,000 members—less than 1 percent—actually filled out ballots to vote, forcing the local chapter to hold a do-over.

Apparently so few members participated in the “democratic” process because the incumbents made it exceptionally difficult to vote. Instead of offering mail-in ballots or worksite polling places, the union put up voting booths at “5 weird Starbucks locations” on a single day, according to anonymous union members.

The do-over election began April 22, with SEIU still refusing to let its members cast mail-in ballots. At least the union has offered five days of voting at 23 county worksites rather than the Starbucks shenanigans this time. Even still, some union members allege that the SEIU Local 221 incumbents censored challenger candidates’ statements on why they’re running.

These antics highlight the need for union recertification. If SEIU truly cherished its members’ democratic rights, it would empower members to periodically decide whether they want to remain in their current union. That would be true democracy. We suspect, however, that union bosses are more concerned with another “d” word: dues.

Categories: Center for Union FactsEmployee Rights ActSEIU