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Monday, May 4, 2009

SEIU Sued: Union Ran Up $2 million Jan.-Feb. Security Tab In Oakland Union Takeover -- Top Officials Feared Violence, Vandalism Lawsuit Says

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2009 at 12:35 PM

click to enlarge The SEIU's bodyguards claim the union owes them close to $1 million
  • The SEIU's bodyguards claim the union owes them close to $1 million
The Service Employees International union ran up a bill of nearly $2 million with an international security firm specializing in industrial espionage, hired to assist the January takeover of dissident Oakland-based affiliate United Healthcare Workers-West, according to a complaint filed in San Francisco federal court May 1.

In the complaint, the security firm OSO Group Ltd claims the union owes it $924,000 in overdue fees, after the SEIU failed to fully pay a guard detail hired to confront purported threats of violence and vandalism from the local healthcare affiliate.

The SEIU contracted the OSO Group through Bullock Associates, a security consulting firm hired by SEIU that specializes in executive protection and forensic accounting. The SEIU ran up a bill of $1,834,414 with the OSO Group, of which the union only paid part, the suit alleges. The complaint does not reveal how much the SEIU was billed by Bullock Associates, which the complaint notes  was also doing work for the union.

As reported, the SEIU national leadership earlier this year moved to oust the leadership of its Oakland-based California healthcare affiliate, after local leader Sal Rosselli accused Washington-based union leaders cutting sweetheart deals with employers.

The SEIU feared the takeover would provoke "possible violence and retaliation" from UHW members, the complaint said.


leaders claimed that UHW officials told members to "take possession of

the Oakland headquarters and other UHW facilities; withhold, destroy,

damage or transfer UHW documents, records and other property' and to

commit acts constituting harassment, threats and violence toward UHW

employees and staff members who choose to continue to work for UHW

and/or cooperate with" SEIU leadership, the complaint states.

The takeover was eventually successful, and dissident members of the UHW affiliate formed a new organization called National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

At the time of publication, representatives of the SEIU and of the NUHW had not returned calls requesting comment.

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