But too late to help displaced union leaders.
Last year we reported on how Randi Weingarten sent in the AFT goons to invade the offices of a nurses local in Portland Oregon after they held a meeting to discuss disaffiliation from the AFT (see below for links). We had been contacted by one of the people in the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5017 (OFNHP).
Now, this was beyond outrageous. Hold a meeting to discuss disaffiliation and get 20 people invade your union and put you under trusteeship.
(Included in the goon squad was the head of the UFT Nurses' chapter Ann Goldman, whose husband is Jerry, the former Manhattan borough office President - he was supposedly the only high level UFT employee ever fired though no one will talk about the reason. Their son was supposedly hired by the PR dept - the entire family was taking down around 400 grand in our dues money.)
Randi must have remembered the time when the AFT lost 40,000 members when the Puerto Rico teachers union left the AFT in 2003. The leader of that walkout was Rafael Feliciano, who called the AFT "dues sucking vampires" or something like that. (Feliciano is a pal of our own Angel Gonzalez and we have had the opportunity to meet him numerous times - Angel is in PR right now getting film and stories to bring back.) Search this blog for "puerto rico" and find all our stories.
Diane Lund-Muzicant reports in her Oregon based Lund Report:
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) took control of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5017 (OFNHP), establishing a trusteeship, after the union tried to hold a special membership meeting to consider disaffiliating from AFT by amending its constitution.
To protest, Kathy Geroux, the deposed president, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor in Seattle.
On Aug. 10 – a year after receiving the complaint – the U.S. Department of Labor determined that the trusteeship violated Title III of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959.
“The trusteeship appears to have been imposed to prevent disaffiliation,” according to the ruling. “It is the Department’s position that it is unlawful to impose a trusteeship for the purpose of preventing.”
Six months earlier, in February, the Department notified AFT of its findings, but decided not to file a lawsuit, according to Mike Shimizu, regional director of public affairs, who said, “The trusteeship was not recognized by us.”
Now here's the rub. The Labor Department withheld the ruling to protect Randi according to the people displaced. They claim the ruling came after the AFT convention in Seattle to keep it from becoming an issue. Shows you which side the ruling bodies are really on, which is what I tell my friends who want to got to court all the time.
Diane Lund continues
Yet lingering questions remain, particularly for Geroux, a cardiology nurse at Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital, who’s convinced the ruling was purposely withheld until after AFT’s national convention in Seattle last month.
“Had we known,” she said, “it would have been a big victory for us; we would have mustered hundreds of people to show up at that convention. They (AFT) would have been scared to face us. Up until then, they kept up the conversation about the bad things we had done. ”
Geroux considered running again for president, but feared she’d be demonized by AFT. “They (AFT) played this like a fine instrument,” she said. “They didn’t want me back in; that’s why this information was withheld from me.”
If the Department of Labor’s decision had been announced earlier, all the former officers would have walked right back in, said Carol Posluszny, who retired recently from Kaiser as a licensed clinical social worker. “What happened was illegal,” she said.
Bing Wong, a clinical lab scientist at Kaiser, is convinced the Department of Labor took sides by showing its non-partisan leanings.
But in the end, Geroux who was president for 8 ½ years feels victorious – the ruling, she said, proves she did nothing wrong by holding an emergency meeting last July to talk about disaffiliating.
“They wanted us out; it was all built on untruths and was a cover-up,” she believes. “Otherwise we would have created the domino effect and taken other unions with us. Now they’ve taken the union back in time; it will take them a decade to catch up. No way will they ever let the local disaffiliate.”
In the small world department, I was on a subway train in Manhattan in July 2009 and saw a couple and their daughter trying to decide what stop to get off. I offered to help. I asked where they were from. "Portland, Or" the woman said.
"Funny" I said, "I was just writing about takeover of a union by the AFT a few hours ago."
"Local 5017," she said. She was Diane Lund-Muzicant on a NY vacation with her family. She said she was going to try to interview Randi about the situation while in NY. She never got that interview.
Come on now, what starts were aligned for that? It turns out Diane is a leading health care writer and puts out the Lund Report. So I subscribed and that's how I heard about the Labor Department ruling, which of course you will not read about on any UFT/AFT or mainstream press.
Here are links to my reports on local 5017, including my July 20 '09 report of the subway meeting with Diane.