US Indymedia Global Indymedia Publish About us
Printed from Boston IMC :
IVAW Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier
Brad Presente

Other Local News

Spare Change News
Open Media Boston
Somerville Voices
Cradle of Liberty
The Sword and Shield

Local Radio Shows

WMBR 88.1 FM
What's Left
WEDS at 8:00 pm
Local Edition
FRI (alt) at 5:30 pm

WMFO 91.5 FM
Socialist Alternative
SUN 11:00 am

WZBC 90.3 FM
Sounds of Dissent
SAT at 11:00 am
Truth and Justice Radio
SUN at 6:00 am

Create account Log in
Comment on this article | Email this article | Printer-friendly version
News ::
22 Jun 2003
ON MONDAY 6/23, join fellow workers in the Northeast by call SEIU
President Andy Stern at 1-800-424-8592 to demand democracy in the



SEIU has been attacking union democracy in the Northeast.

IN BOSTON, a trusteeship has been going on past the legal limit, because
members, pissed off at a bad contract, do not support the
International's candidate. Votes on changing local structure are held
over and over again until the International gets the results they want.

IN NEW YORK, trustee Mike Fishman manipulated the constitution to become
president and is swallowing up smaller locals. ( more info: )

IN PHILADELPHIA, Local 36 members who served on the bargaining committee have publicly come forward to say that the recent contract negotiations in which the union settled for big healthcare cuts were railroaded through in a manipulative proceeding. Now members who voice their opinion get interrogated, harrassed, and attacked when they try to get their grievances handled.

ON MONDAY 6/23, join fellow workers in the Northeast by call SEIU
President Andy Stern at 1-800-424-8592 to demand democracy in the



a rank and file committee fighting for union democracy

FORWARDED FROM: unitedforpower (at)

For Immediate Release June 20th, 2003

WHO: SEIU Local 36 United For Power, a group of Local 36 members
fighting for democracy and member control of their union

WHAT: Members demand accountability in upcoming contract negotiations

The SEIU Local 36 United For Power Committee, a group of Local 36
members fighting for democracy and member control of their union are
concerned about upcoming negotiations with residential building
owners. The negotiations were written about in a Philadelphia Weekly
article that came out this week. Members are frightend of a repeat of
negotiations with office building owners which five members of the
negotiating committee say were “railroaded through.”

“We do not want more negotiations like the one he just did with our
health and welfare benefits. If there’s a way we will stop him,” says
United For Power Committee member Elba Mercado, a janitor in the PECO

In May, SEIU Local 36, a union for office building janitors and
engineers in Philadelphia, concluded early negotiations for the BOLR
master contract that covers most large office buildings in Center City
Philadelphia. The settlement included new premiums for dependent care,
a reduced dental plan, and larger copays for medicines. In early June,
a group of five members from the negotiating committee wrote a letter
to complain about the negotiation and ratification process which they
described as a “dog and pony show and rubber stamp designed to keep
[Trustee Wyatt Closs] from having to take responsibility for your
decisions.” Copies of the letter and petitions calling for an election
of officers are being distributed by the Local 36 United For Power
Committee, a group of rank and file members concerned about democracy
in the local.

The local was placed under international trusteeship last year after a
group of militant shop stewards and organizing staff began running the
local office during a dispute over the presidency of the local. Under
the trusteeship, the constitution and by-laws of the local have been
dissolved and Trustee Wyatt Closs the union’s international
headquarters has been given complete authority over the local.

Last week, members of the negotiating committee who signed the letter of
complaint and their supporters began suffering harassment from union
staff when trying to file grievances. When Gina Reyes, a janitor in the
Centre Square building, was at the union attempting to deal with sexual
harassment in her building, the meeting was interrupted by Education
Director Barbara Rocky. Barbara Rocky grabbed Gina Reyes by the neck
and squeezed it and said, “I was very disappointed to see your
signature on that letter.” When Monica Roberts was waiting outside her
building for a grievance paper, she was surrounded by organizer Liz
Oakley and members from across town who interrogated Monica about the
letter and insinuated that office cleaners were too stupid to write it.
Delbert Franklin, an outspoken member, was screamed at by a member who
supports the trustee.

The Local 36 United For Power Committee is asking concerned members of
the community to call SEIU President Andy Stern at 1-800-424-8592 and
to email Trustee Wyatt Closs at clossw (at) to demand that SEIU
respect the opinions of its members. The members are demanding the
right to be represented by their union without being harassed for their

Below is a copy of an open letter to Trustee Wyatt Closs which was
signed by five union members from the BOLR Contract Negotiating Team:

Mr. Wyatt Closs
SEIU Local #36
Suite 200
24 South 15th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Dear Mr. Closs:

The purpose of this letter is to state reasons for which I did not sign
the 2003 BOLR contract, and to also draw your official attention to the
fact that the said document, if presented as is, will not serve the
purpose for which it was intended - that the essence of our two-week
deliberations were fruitless.

In the first place, the Bargaining Team was initially informed that the
bargaining process was in fact, a negotiated settlement of SEIU Local
#36’s Health Benefit Funds, which were sinking. And that something
needed to be done immediately to avoid the funds being depleted before
the life of the present contract, which expires October 15, 2003. There
is no reason to have forced the negotiations to finish in two weeks
when we have five months before the former agreement expires. The
contract was railroaded through so fast that the committee was not
given ample time to really examine and think about what was in the

The committee was not really listened to, in that, discussions were
being held behind closed doors. The meetings that were held in private,
behind our backs, between you and management superseded our decisions.
This is not only a betrayal of the confidence that we had in you: many
members of the committee feel that they were put through an elaborate
con game.

For example, there was the quick resolution of the Martin Luther King, The committee resolved that we would not give in on our
demand to have Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday. We did not
agree to give up one personal day for Martin Luther King Day; we had
firmly agreed that we wanted Martin Luther King Day as a normal paid
holiday. The abrupt position taken by you to convert one of the
personal days into Dr. King’s holiday confused many members who were
given no opportunity to defend the committee’s position. The
introduction of the holiday commencing November 2005 is of no use,
because it does not take effect until February 2006, after we will have
been paying more for our health care for three years.

The process for the ratification was suspicious. Notices for the
ratification meeting were not sent out in time for many members to
attend. Members who tried to vote while on their lunch break from
working that day were not allowed to vote, because they did not have
time to watch the video first. The way the ballot was worded left out
the possible option of returning to the negotiating table and scared
members into voting for the agreement.

The truth is that we were not involved in the contract negotiations at
all. You had already made the decisions. The committee was formed as a
rubber stamp and as a dog and pony show to protect you from having to
take responsibility for your decisions.

In another development, I want to touch on the matter of moving the
office. If the health fund is near bankruptcy, why is the union
spending tens of thousands of dollars to move the office to a location
that is less accessible to public transportation? That is our money. I
want to know how much is being spent on movers, architects,
construction, and rent. It is also my understanding that the union pays
a huge amount of money for your living quarters in Rittenhouse Square.
Would it not be better for the union were you to relocate to a less
expensive apartment, since in fact the union does not have sufficient
funds to facilitate its day to day activities. Is it possible for
members to know the full account of all the monies spent by the
trusteeship, since in fact this is the members’ money? These questions
are being raised to allude to the fact that the cry of the trustees
that the union and heath fund are broke might be crocodile tears. If
this is not true, please answer the above mentioned inquiries.

The bottom line is that the members need to have an election so that
they can elect chosen representatives who really listen to and work for

Yours truly,
Montgomery Saah
Monica Roberts
Gina Reyes
Ray Hernandez
Luiz Hurtado
Members, 2003 BOLR Negotiating Committee
Add a quick comment
Your name Your email


Text Format
Anti-spam Enter the following number into the box:
To add more detailed comments, or to upload files, see the full comment form.