Sunday, April 13, 2008

Breaking News: SEIU invades Labor Notes

News that was broken by the World Socialist Party of the United States website

10:30 PM Saturday April 13

The Service Employees Industrial Union (SEIU) has sent in several bus loads of members to disrupt the annual meeting of Labor Notes in Detroit. The Labor Notes conference is one of the most important gatherings of rank and file labor activists in Canada and the US.

Friends of the WSP at the conference report that an SEIU activist bloodied a 70+ year old female member of Labor Notes.

This is an episode in a conflict between the California Nurses Association (Labor Notes version) and SEIU (SEIU version) as well as Labor note’s support of a dissident leader within SEIU. The leader of the CNA and the dissident SEIU leader had been scheduled to be at the Labor Notes annual meeting.

Whatever the dispute, this is a disgraceful return to the labor thuggery of the mid-20th Century labor movement.

We’ll update this post as more information is learned.

Update 1 (11:30 PM Pacific)

Discussion on the conflict between SEIU and CNA available here.

Update 2 (8:45 AM Pacific)

From Labor Notes website:

SEIU International Backs Away From Debate, Disrupts 2008 Labor Notes Conference

seiu ln protest at conference

SEIU protesters attempt to storm the banquet at the 2008 Labor Notes Conference. Photo: Jim West.

When you are trying to put the movement back into the labor movement, you’re going to meet resistance. Labor Notes supporters are no strangers to heated debate—and the SEIU International is not the first union to protest at our conference. During the 1980s, for example, we saw opponents of the New Directions Movement inside the United Auto Workers put up picket lines outside our conference hotel and had BLAST—the Brotherhood of Loyal Americans and Strong Teamsters—try to intimidate Teamster reformers attending our events.

People are going to disagree and that is fine. There is no idea that can’t be discussed at a Labor Notes conference. We welcome debate on any and all issues facing the labor movement, including the heated dispute between the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC) and the leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) over the best way to build power for health care workers. But that debate must take place with respect and free from intimidation. Despite being welcomed to the conference earlier in the day—and given space to debate supporters of the CNA/NNOC about neutrality organizing agreements—SEIU staff and members shouted down speakers at workshops and panels throughout the event.

At our Saturday night banquet hundreds of SEIU protesters stormed into our conference and confronted our volunteers and supporters. In 29 years we have never had a group of protesters attack our conference or the brothers and sisters who attend it. Violence has no place within our labor movement, and we call on the national leadership of SEIU, including President Andy Stern, to repudiate it.