SEIU wins a fraction of damages sought against NUHW, as both sides claim victory

David Moberg

Jurors in San Francisco on Friday awarded the Service Employees International Union a small fraction of the damages sought in a civil lawsuit against former officials of the 150,000-member United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) local union and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) that they formed last year.

SEIU claimed that former UHW president, now head of NUHW, Sal Rosselli and 27 others had misused UHW resources in forming the new union, during a time before and after SEIU put UHW under a trusteeship in January 2009. The international union acted after Rosselli refused an order that the big healthcare local cede roughly 65,000 of its home-care worker members to another SEIU local without the members voting, as Rosselli requested.

The jury’s decision did little to alter the ongoing battle between SEIU and NUHW for the support of California’s largest bloc of unionized health care workers. Lawyers for the two sides did not even agree on the size of the jury award. SEIU, which had initially asked for $25 million in damages, says the jury awarded more than $1.5 in damages. NUHW says the total is only $737,850, most of it assessed against NUHW.

Originally SEIU named 28 defendants, but 2 were dropped before trial. No judgment was made against 12 defendants, and the remainder were mainly ordered to reimburse UHW for wages and “diversion of resources” in the weeks immediately prior to the trusteeship.

NUHW defendants plan to ask the judge to set aside the award and, if he does not, to appeal the decision.

They also anticipate bringing their own legal actions against SEIU in coming weeks.

SEIU claimed the jury found Rosselli and others “guilty” and that the evidence presented in the trial showed that the defendants engaged in a long conspiracy to use UHW resources to launch a new union, stole and destroyed documents and lists, used violence and intimidation, deliberately canceled contract extension to aid their decertification plans, and in other ways violated their fiduciary duties as union officers.

The article continues at InTheseTimes

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