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Dearborn, MI—The Service Employees International Union turned their dispute with the California Nurses Association violent by attacking a labor conference April 12, injuring several and sending an American Axle striker to the hospital.
A recently retired member of United Auto Workers Local 235, Dianne Feeley, suffered a head wound after being knocked to the ground by SEIU International staff and local members. Other conference-goers—members of the Teamsters, UAW, UNITE HERE, International Longshoremen’s Association, and SEIU itself—were punched, kicked, shoved, and pushed to the floor. Dearborn police responded and evicted the three bus loads of SEIU International staff and members of local and regional health care unions. No arrests were made.

The assault took place at the Labor Notes conference, a biennial gathering of 1,100 union members and leaders who met to discuss strategies to rebuild the labor movement.

David Cohen, an international representative of the United Electrical Workers, asked protesters why they came. He said one responded, "they told us just to get on the bus." The protesters included several members with young children, who had to be ushered away when SEIU tried to force their way into the conference banquet hall. Protesters were targeting Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the AFL-CIO-affiliated CNA. DeMoro was scheduled to speak but declined to appear after threats were made against her union’s leadership.

Despite being welcomed to the conference earlier in the day—and given space to debate supporters of the CNA and the National Nurses Organizing Committee about neutrality organizing agreements—SEIU international and regional staff shouted down speakers at workshops and panels throughout the event.

"Labor Notes has always been a space for open debate, but when a union decides to engage in violence against their brothers and sisters, we draw a line," said Mark Brenner, director of Labor Notes. "Violence within the labor movement is unacceptable and we call on the national leadership of SEIU, including President Andy Stern, to repudiate it."

Originally posted to lizjacobs on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:55 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A link (9+ / 0-)

    To those who want one:

    There are no innocents here - there has been a very spirited and often bitter fight between SEIU and CNA regarding organizing. But SEIU's turn to physical intimidation is not good and not welcome. It's bad for the progressive movement - they need to find other ways to assert their agenda.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day
    Neither is California High Speed Rail

    by eugene on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:57:28 PM PDT

  •  One act of violence (5+ / 0-)

    can destroy the message. I am sorry to hear this ocurred.  Thanks for the diary, eugene.

    My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. Barbara Jordan 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:59:20 PM PDT

  •  Gee (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pontificator, tosser, a girl in MI

    Is SEIU/CNA the new I/P?

  •  SEIU's leadership must repudiate this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Resorting to violence at a union forum hurts ALL unions, and makes union organizing more difficult in general.

  •  Diarist should note that (4+ / 0-)

    the text of this diary came from here. I don't see a copyright mark on that site and it looks more press-releasy to me, but it should still be made clear.

  •  Part of what made unions strong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is standing against brutal physical attacks from non-union forces.

    That was about the stupidest thing the SEIU could have done.  It will be interesting to see how the leadership reacts.

    "2009" The end of an error

    by sheddhead on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 01:12:36 PM PDT

  •  I'm not really sure what they are fighting (0+ / 0-)

    about, but if people are being physically intimidated and even attacked, that is a real shame.

    IGTNT: Remembering our fallen soldiers

    by a girl in MI on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 01:18:15 PM PDT

  •  This is also a feminist issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RN4MERCY, Mdfog10

    The leaders and members of CNA/NNOC are 95% female as if the nursing profession. Our organization has a femist, shared governing structure with an elected board of 35 direct-care RNs and a new presidency model called the "Council of Presidents" which is a shared presidency of 4 RNs (all women)  

    As a women;s organization we believe disputes are best resolved through discussions not violent confrontations

    In an escalation on Friday, women leaders of CNA/NNOC were harassed at home by SEIU staff. Then yesterday, 800 SEIUers literally crashed through security and broke up the Labor Notes conference in Detroit.

    A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
    The pictures speak volumes about how extreme was this assault directed at Rose Ann DeMoro and women leaders of CNA/NNOC. In order to be in California to respond to the harassment at leaders’ homes, Rose Ann did not attend the conference. RN leaders did and their accounts and more information can be found at

  •  Use the link on their ad here to complain! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How cool is that?
    Kos will get paid and they will hear that stalking nurses is a poor organizing technique.

    Andy Stern, Blackwater wannabee?

    Good Americans should stockpile old tires. We might need to burn them in the street.

    by MadCityRag on Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 02:12:06 PM PDT

  •  Unbelievable (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lizjacobs, RN4MERCY, Mdfog10

    So the union that wanted to organize nurses in Ohio assaulted union members and sent one of them to the hospital?  SHAME ON SEIU.

  •  There is no place for violence-Shame on SEIU (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lizjacobs, RN4MERCY

    The labor movement is harmed when such violence happens. We need the public on our side when we fight multinational corporations. Getting a reputation for being bullies and thugs, as this kind of violent action brings, causes us to lose the public's good will and support.

    SEIU needs to apologize immediately. Andy Stern needs to denounce the actions of the individuals that participated in these violent activities and then he needs to resign.

  •  re: the labor movement (0+ / 0-)

    ...well, when SEIU became about Andy Stern, instead of the collective of workers and democratic representation of them, it signaled the beginning of the end. Whatever message he was trying to convey with his "change to win" campaign has been lost by these violent and iniquitous actions.
    I just hope and pray that the stain of injustice doesn't pollute the entire sea of good in the labor movement, in the way that an oil spill suffocates the ocean of life.
    Andy should repudiate these actions and then step down; may he listen to the wise counsel of his brothers like Sal Roselli, and repent of this evil and destructive course he's charted.
    In the words of Abraham Lincoln:
    "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
    Like America, the house of labor, divided against itself will falter and we just can't let that happen. The health of our nation is at stake:

  •  Labor Notes Protest--setting the record straight (0+ / 0-)

    With all the back and forth about the protest at the Labor Notes conference, it’s time to set the record straight.

    Here are the facts:

    * Most of the SEIU members who traveled to Dearborn to express their disapproval of the CNA’s tactics were women. They were primarily home care workers, nursing assistants, and other caregivers. Some brought their children with them.      

    * They had gathered at the conference hoping to voice their disapproval of the CNA’s anti-union campaign in Ohio that stripped more than 8,000 hospital workers of the opportunity to freely choose whether to form a union with SEIU.        

    * Despite efforts to prevent the health care workers from making their voices heard, the rally was a peaceful one. Protestors talked to individual conference attendees about what happened in Ohio. They chanted "union busting is disgusting."      

    * At no time did they engage in or witness the kind of activities described by the CNA.      

    --posted by Nadia, SEIU staffer

    •  neutral observer account is different than seiu (0+ / 0-)

      Fortunately, in this case there's a neutral eyewitness we can cite.

      Ken Paff, leader of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (who has no dog in the SEIU vs CNA conflict)has written the true account of the SEIU violent assault on the conference.


      (scroll down to see the contents of Paff's email message).

  •  Yes, Context Matters (0+ / 0-)

    There are photos from this event making the rounds in the blogosphere. If you haven't seen them, one is here  and a second is posted here  on Flikr--of a young woman, in serious pain, falling to the ground. Her story-of both pictures-is here. Please take a minute to read it; you'll be glad you did.

    The broad circulation of these photos today by CNA and Labor Notes \ as "evidence" of SEIU's "violent" behavior on Saturday is same type of distortion by CNA as their account of events last week in CA. Last week's claim by CNA was variously reported as "SEIU sending swarms of staff to threaten women in their homes"."Roving bands of SEIU staff"."four or five large men"."at her door, yelling epithets and screaming at her"."ran off before the police arrived."  Take a look at this video of what was really going on: Two middle-aged women from Ohio. Healthcare workers whose union was busted before they even had a chance to vote for one. Visiting CNA leaders to ask for help in ending the tactics that cut their dream short. No screaming. No men. No swarming. No running.

  •  An account of what happened from a neutral person (0+ / 0-)

    An excellent eye witness account, from an outside person, of what happened in Dearborn this weekend. This article is proof that SEIU is lying in comments about their use of violence. There have many accounts from non-biased sources all saying the same thing: SEIU used violence as they strong armed their way into a diner about union democracy. The only accounts saying otherwise come from, guess who, SEIU staffers.

    This is not a fight between two unions, where both have blood on their hands. CNA/NNOC has taken the high road in fighting against corporate unionism, hospital greed, and insurance companies. While, SEIU has sold out workers to make deals with management. I was at this conference and saw first hand how little SEIU cares about it's own members and other workers. Their staff charged into the hotel, some wearing bandanas over their faces. They punched and shoved any one who was brave enough to lock arms in a peaceful resistance to SEIU's onslaught. Any so-called progressive union that uses violence against its fellow union brothers and sisters should be ashamed of themselves and is in no way really progressive.

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