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Latest News - November 2010

November 12, 2010
Judge denies SEIU attempt to stifle rival union
Source: Sacramento Business Journal
By: By Kathy Robertson

A federal judge has denied an attempt by Service Employees International Union to require a rival union to put up more money as it appeals a court judgment related to a nasty legal brawl between the two.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup states in a court ruling Wednesday that the amount of bond already posted by National Union of Healthcare Workers is adequate to protect the plaintiffs from loss.

The request follows a $1.57 million federal jury verdict in April that found former leaders of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West guilty of using UHW resources to form a new union, misusing members’ dues and destroying critical union documents. NUHW has appealed and asked for a stay until the matter has been heard by an appeals court.

Alsup came down hard on SEIU in his ruling, saying plaintiffs want the ruling to support a complaint they plan to file with the State Bar of California over alleged conduct by NUHW counsel. “The court is convinced that the true reasons motivating plaintiffs’ counsel and plaintiffs have to do with vengeance and retribution and not with maintaining the integrity of the Bar of the State of California,” Alsup states in court documents.

The verdict stems from a bitter internal fight in which SEIU assumed trusteeship of UHW in January 2009 and ousted its longtime leaders, including former president Sal Rosselli, amid differences of opinion about organizing tactics and allegations of financial wrongdoing.

Days later, Rosselli formed NUHW and began efforts to woo UHW members to the new union.

It’s appropriate and necessary to try to collect money from a group of people who have spent the last six months “playing hide and seek with their bank accounts to avoid paying a judgment against them, including moving money into their lawyer’s bank account,” UHW spokesman Steve Trossman said. “We’re aggressively seeking to collect the money.”

“(Vengeance and retribution) have been the motive of the plaintiffs since the trusteeship and characteristic of their behavior since then,” countered John Borsos, a leader in NUHW. “We’re appealing the verdict and expect a ruling after the first of the year.”



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