Union members who work at the SEIU’s headquarters in Washington, DC rejected the SEIU’s “last, best and final offer.”
WASHINGTON, DC—Union members represented by the Office Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 2, who work at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) headquarters in Washington, DC are preparing to strike after refusing to reject the SEIU’s “latest ‘best, last and final’ union-busting contract proposal.”
OPEIU Local 2 members had authorized their union to call a strike in March.
Although the union had held out hoped that their SEIU bosses would “lead by example and work with its union staff,” it appears that is not going to happen.
Earlier this month, the SEIU presented its OPEIU staff its final offer, stating that “[t]he very nature of this give-and-take process means that there will be times when bargaining may not result in an agreement, especially when what we see as best for our members does not match certain demands made by unionized staff.”
Last week, “an overwhelming majority” of OPEIU staff rejected the SEIU’s final offer, according to an OPEIU press release.
“I don’t understand how SEIU can criticize big corporations like the major airlines for outsourcing their good union jobs to irresponsible non-union contractors when they are doing the same thing within their own building,” said Britt Gordon-McKeon, a research staffer and Local 2 bargaining committee member. “SEIU needs to live their own values if they expect others to do the same.”
According to the group of workers, SEIU management has flat-out rejected all Local 2 sponsored measures to combat this trend, and has insisted on creating a two-tiered system for key layoff protections. The current proposals would eliminate key job protection measures for all future Local 2 hires—all but guaranteeing that the rapid Local 2 unit erosion would escalate in the coming years.
“When I started at SEIU we had more than 140 members, now we are down to 55,” said Andy Bonior, a Communications Specialist and Local 2 member. “SEIU’s big theme for their political program for the 2020 elections is ‘Unions for All’, but I can’t understand how they expect candidates to take them seriously while they desperately attempt to rid themselves of their own staff union. You have to practice what you preach.”
In addition to insisting on the two-tiered system that would continue to shrink Local 2 membership, SEIU management’s “last, best, final” offer also included an arbitrary deadline (Friday, May 24th) for Local 2 ratification and threatened to withhold back-pay for the below cost-of-living raises that have been held up by SEIU for almost two years. This attempt to pressure Local 2 members into selling out the future of their union ended up backfiring, as the membership saw it as nothing but an example of the types of wage theft and extortion anti-union companies have been using for years.
Although the OPEIU has not called on its members to strike the SEIU yet. Given the three-day Memorial Day weekend, it is possible the OPEIU may do so soon.
In its own press release, the SEIU stated that it respects OPEIU’s to strike, but that it is “prepared” to continue operating on behalf of its members.
“We absolutely respect OPEIU Local 2’s right to reject this contract and to take collective action, including striking,” the SEIU stated. “Our members need us to continue the important work we do on their behalf by moving forward and that is exactly what we are prepared to do.”
— AFT Staff Union (@AFTSUnion) March 19, 2019