Labor's Civil War in California: The NUHW Healthcare Workers' Rebellion

By: Winslow, Cal

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This book examines one of the most important labor conflicts in the United States today. In 2006 and 2007, disputes developed concerning the practice and direction of the 150,000 member healthcare workers union in California, United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW), with its ?parent? organization, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).SEIU is the second largest union in the US, the fastest growing in recent years. It is a well-organized, well-financed organization, with an ambitious agenda. SEIU perspectives, while packaged as progressive, reject traditional union traditions and practices ? union democracy and the idea of ?class struggle? are replaced with class collaboration, and the union frequently ?wheels and deals? directly with top management and politicians. In 2007 UHW rejected these perspectives and contested them within the union. The SEIU international leadership retaliated by placing UHW in trusteeship, firing its officers, seizing its assets, and taking control of all union?s activities. UHW leaders and members responded by forming a new union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) and challenging the SEIU in virtually every unionized site in the state. This California conflict?SEIU vs. NUHW?is no local brawl; it is not about personalities, it is not about West Coast eccentricities. Its significance is not confined to the fortunes of just one particular union. SEIU's attack, however regrettable, is not the first such?nor will it be the last. The truth is that labor has always been divided, comprised of many currents. The truth is also that there are rights and wrongs in labor, as elsewhere, and that these can expose fundamental divides?in this case two contesting souls in the workers' movement. These are sharply on display today in this dispute?the one soul authoritarian, top-down, collaborationist, the other bottom-up, rank-and-file, class conscious.


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A clear analysis of tactics and politics, this thorough account examines the dispute between the United Healthcare Workers (UHW) union in California and its parent organization the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)one of the most important labor conflicts in the United States today. It explores how the UHW rank and file took umbrage with the SEIU s rejection of traditional labor values of union democracy and class struggle and their tactics of wheeling and dealing with top management and politicians. The resulting rift and retaliation from SEIU leadership culminated in the UHW membership being forced to break out and form a brand new union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). Timed to coincide with elections in California, this detailed history calls for a reexamination of the ideological and structural underpinnings of today s labor movement and illustrates how a seemingly local conflict speaks to the rights of laborers everywhere to control their own fates."

Title: Labor's Civil War in California: The NUHW Healthcare Workers' Rebellion

Author Name: Winslow, Cal

Categories: Labor,

Publisher: PM Press: 2010-04-01

ISBN Number: 1604863277

ISBN Number 13: 9781604863277

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition: New

Type: Paperback

Seller ID: SKU1001808