Pirates Of The Caribbean: SEIU’s Failed Bid In Puerto Rico

Source: César F. Rosado Marzán, WorkingUSA, Volume 12 Issue 2, June 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In October of 2008, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) failed to obtain majority support to represent a 40,000-member bargaining unit of public school teachers in Puerto Rico even though it had most of the odds stacked in its favor: a huge war chest, a decertified and bankrupt rival, and the Puerto Rican government qua employer’s neutrality, if not outright support. The Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, the SEIU’s rival, campaigned against the SEIU’s bid for exclusive representation by focusing on rank-and-file mobilization and a message against raiding by a “colonial” union. The event showed that even progressive and successful unions such as the SEIU are not immune to oligarchic tendencies and may raid other unions in pursuit of money and power. Strategies that combine more democratic, bottom-up mobilization, including, in the case of Puerto Rico, strengthening the long-established tradition of minority unionism, could dampen future oligarchic tendencies, buttress industrial democracy, and create better coexistence between trade union organizations. To move forward, especially given the global crisis that has befallen us, unions need to start acting in the most principled of ways and expressing solidarity in the deepest manners.

Leave a Reply