The SEIU shipped in 950 or so staff and spent an estimated $10 million on mailings, advertising, phone banks, door-to-door canvassing and the like. The NUHW doesn't have this kind of firepower. At a rally for staff in late May, David Regan, an SEIU executive vice president who took over the UHW in January, roared that, "We gotta give a butt-whipping they will never forget." When the secret ballots were mailed in and counted, the SEIU won that vote by a sliver, 2,938 to 2,705.Perhaps the guy is lying, but there are other corroborating witnesses. Does any of this behavior surprise anyone about how SEIU conducts itself when they think that their position is at stake.
The NUHW immediately called for a re-run of the election, challenging voting irregularities. The two unions have traded accusations since. But now, Carlos Martinez, an immigrant from El Salvador who was on the SEIU's staff during the campaign, has come forward—so he says—to blow the whistle on his employer. Mr. Martinez went door-to-door canvassing the home-care workers during the 15-day election. Like him, many of them are native Spanish speakers; some are illiterate.
Speaking in an interview over a sandwich at a hotel in the Bay Area late last month, Mr. Martinez says he was instructed by superiors to tell the workers that if they voted against the SEIU, they could lose their medical benefits, see their green cards or citizenship revoked and possibly be deported. He says he and other staffers were also told to pressure voters to spoil ballots that had been filled out for the NUHW. In other instances he filled ballots out for them. He says he even took some to the post office, as did other SEIU campaign workers.
All of these actions, if true, are a violation of state or federal laws governing union elections. In all, he adds, he visited 550 homes. "We scared people. We took the secret ballot away from these people," he says. "It was wrong."
And these are the guys who want to pass card check so that they continue such methods to influence future union votes.