In an op-ed article published in The Wall Street Journal, Matthew Kaminski related the latest development in the schism between Andy Stern’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU) affiliate United Healthcare Workers (UHW) and Sal Rosselli’s National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). 

Mr. Kaminski discussed accusations that SEIU threatened workers with deportation and tampered with secret ballots during a June 2009 NLRB election in which the 10,000 home healthcare workers were to determine whether to continue to be represented by SEIU-UHW or whether to be represented by NUHW.  UHW ultimately won the election by a narrow margin. 

Nearly six months after the election, Carlos Martinez, who was an SEIU staff member during the June 2009 decertification election, has claimed, under oath, that he was instructed by his superiors to tell eligible voters that if they voted against the SEIU they could lose their medical benefits and have their green cards revoked (possibly leading to deportation).  Mr. Martinez also claimed he was told to fill out ballots for voters, take the ballots to the post office and pressure voters to spoil ballots already filled out for NUHW.  Mr. Martinez also alleged he and other SEIU staff members visited eligible voters in their homes (he visited 550) to coerce voters to select SEIU.  Mr. Martinez said, “We scared people.  We took the secret ballot away from these people…. [I]t was wrong.”

Mr. Martinez, who said he now “fears for his safety,” claimed he raised concerns with his superiors that the alleged orders were to engage in misconduct and he submitted a complaint to two state agencies, but “was ignored.”  He noted, “Six other []workers confirmed parts of his account in affidavits.”

Finally, Mr. Kaminski said, “Whatever the truth, these scuffles eat up resources and deprive a divided labor movement of a strong leader to push its legislative priorities — most of all, the ‘card check’ bill….”  However, Mr. Kaminski feels “Congress might want to think instead how to better protect people from desperate unions and safeguard their right to choose which [union], if any, they might wish to join.”  We couldn’t agree more.

These allegations are perfect examples of why “card check” and mail ballots are inherently unreliable mechanisms for determining employee support for unions. Under “card check” and mail ballots, employees are subjected to the types of misconduct Mr. Martinez claimed he and other union staff members employed.