For Immediate Release
April 12, 2008
Contact Chris Kutalik 313-378-2588 or Mischa Gaus 773-627-3205
SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNION ATTACKS LABOR GATHERING
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
“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.”