SEIU sells us out

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry should be selling Mary Kay instead of selling out the members of one the nation’s largest labor unions. 

I am a dues-paying member (almost $50 a month) of Service Employees International Union, better known as SEIU.

I’m very pro-labor. Pro-SEIU? Um, not so much.

On Thursday I received an e-mail from SEIU President Mary Kay Henry with the probably hyperbolic subject line “The fight of our lives.”

The e-mail reads, in part:

Dear Robert,

You’ll probably hear about it on the news very soon, but I want you to be the first to know.

Today, with great pride and a sense of purpose, the 2.1 million members of the Service Employees International Union have endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election.

President Obama is the only candidate for president who shares our vision of America as a land of opportunity for everyone. We need a leader willing to fight for the needs of the 99 percent, and stand with hard working families to say that the world’s wealthiest corporations must pay their fair share.

Please join us in returning President Obama to the White House so he can keep fighting for more jobs and less nonsense.

You’ve probably seen how hard it is to get the concerns of working people taken seriously in our political process. Here’s why:

Our economy and democracy have been taken over by the wealthiest one percent.

These bankers and CEOs have used their wealth and excessive political influence to treat our state and federal governments like their personal cash drawer – spending lavishly on elections and then pressuring legislators to give them even more instead of creating jobs. It shows in the results. …

We know what’s really important. We know that after a decade of tax breaks for the rich and out-of-control gambling on Wall Street, things have gotten much harder for working Americans. We know that if these problems aren’t taken care of now, the next generation will have it even worse. …

President Obama is working to turn things around, but he needs help from all of us to be heard over his wealthy opponents, people who seem to believe that the only thing wrong with the economy is that they have to share it.

From now until Election Day next November, we need to dedicate ourselves to this goal. We will knock on doors, we will talk to our friends and neighbors and co-workers, and we will fight shoulder-to-shoulder alongside working families across this nation to show the one percent that they aren’t the only ones willing to fight for America’s future. …

In solidarity,
Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union

I’m a dues-paying member of SEIU, but there’s no way in hell that I’m going to help President Hopey-Changey continue to punk those of us who put him in office. I will give Obama not one red fucking cent (I gave him hundreds of dollars for his 2008 bid) and I will not give him my vote again. Nor could I, with a straight face and a good conscience, try to convince others that they should support Barack Obama’s re-election, as SEIU would have me do.

Mysteriously missing in Henry’s propagandistic e-mail is the promise that Barack Obama made to labor on the campaign trail in November 2007 (here is video of it): “And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself; I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America, because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”

Where were Obama’s “comfortable shoes” when the state of Wisconsin this year was a battleground for labor, for the rights of the middle class and the working class against the greedy, thieving plutocrats, represented by Repugnican Tea Party Gov. Scott Walker & Co.?

Obama didn’t show his face in Wisconsin once and could be bothered to make no more than one or two weak, vague statements in support of Wisconsin. Wisconsinites have been doing it on their own.

Where is Obama speaking out against the police brutality that we are seeing against non-threatening citizens who want to voice their grievances in a meaningful way, and not in the toothless, politically ineffectual way that our treasonous and oppressive plutocratic overlords have proscribed for us (the meaningless, politically ineffectual way that Obama himself no doubt endorses)?

Mary Kay Henry’s proclamations in her propagandistic e-mail are outright lies or delusions or some combination thereof.

Indeed “We need a leader willing to fight for the needs of the 99 percent, and stand with hard working families to say that the world’s wealthiest corporations must pay their fair share.” That leader is not President Hopey-Changey, however. At best, Barack Obama is the lesser of two evils, and for millions of us, that isn’t good enough anymore — thus, the Occupy Wall Street movement.

And Henry shouldn’t even have gone here: “These bankers and CEOs have used their wealth and excessive political influence to treat our state and federal governments like their personal cash drawer – spending lavishly on elections and then pressuring legislators to give them even more instead of creating jobs. It shows in the results. …”

As Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald points out in his recent column that is critical of SEIU’s shameless and pathetic attempt to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street movement such as by using its signature phrases “1 percent” and “99 percent,” Barack Obama has done nothing but coddle the Wall Street weasels. You should read Greenwald’s entire column, but here, in my opinion, is the money shot:

… But whatever else is true, the notion — advanced by SEIU — that it’s the Democratic Party and the Obama White House working to bring about these changes and implant these values of the 99 percent is so self-evidently false as to be insulting. …

… [D]oes SEIU think that people will just ignore these key political facts? How does anyone think these protesters will be convinced that it’s exclusively the GOP — and not the Democratic Party and the Obama White House — who “protect the rich” when: Wall Street funded the Democrats far more than the GOP in the 2008 election; the Democrats’ key money man, Charles Schumer, is one of the most devoted Wall Street servants in the country; Obama empowered in key positions Wall Street servants such as Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Bill Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and an endless roster of former Goldman officials; JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has been dubbed “Obama’s favorite banker” after Obama publicly defended his post-bailout $17 million bonus; the president named the CEO of GE to head his jobs panel; the DCCC and DSCC exist to ensure the nomination of corporatist candidates and Blue Dogs whose political worldview is servitude to the lobbyist class; the Democratic president, after vocally urging an Age of Austerity, tried very hard to usher in cuts to Social Security and an increase in the age for Medicare eligibility; and the Obama administration has not only ensured virtually no accountability for the rampant Wall Street fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis, but is actively pressuring New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and others to agree to a woefully inadequate settlement to forever shield banks from the consequences of their pervasive mortgage fraud.

That’s just a fraction of the facts one could list to document the actual factions to which the Democratic Party has devoted itself. If one wants to argue that the GOP is more opposed to progressive economic policies than Democrats, that’s certainly reasonable. If one wants to argue that, on balance, voting for Democrats is more likely to bring about marginally more of those policies than abstaining, I think that, too, is reasonable.

But to try to cast the Democratic Party and the Obama administration as the vessel for the values and objectives of the Occupy movement is just dishonest in the extreme: in fact, it’s so extreme that it’s very unlikely to work. Those who believe that further empowerment of the Democratic Party is what is most urgently needed can make their case and should pursue that goal — they should try to generate as much citizen enthusiasm as possible behind them — but they should stop trying to depict and exploit the Occupy movement as an instrument for their agenda.

Exactly. As Greenwald claims, “SEIU officials have long been among Obama’s closest and most loyal allies in Washington.”

This is why I stopped financially supporting the Human Rights Campaign: Clearly the HRC elites are much more interested in hobnobbing with Washington, D.C.’s elites than to actually fight for the rights of non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals. It was clear to me where money that is donated to HRC goes: to its elites so that they can be socialites in D.C.

HRC gives Barack Obama a full pass on the fact that he still claims that he is “evolving” on the issue of same-sex marriage, even though in 1996, when he was running for the Illinois state Senate, he responded to a campaign questionnaire that he supports same-sex marriage. (“I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” he wrote. Of course, as president he has fought efforts to prohibit same-sex marriage as much as he has put on his “comfortable shoes” to fight for labor.)

But the if the HRC elites were to actually challenge Obama on the fact that he’s a fucking liar who sells his supporters out, then the HRC elites wouldn’t get to rub shoulders with the elites in D.C. anymore.

Go ahead and give money to the HRC if you want to, but know that HRC won’t use your money to actually fight for your rights.

Similarly, I can tell you that as a dues-paying member of SEIU, I never got a voice or a vote in the union’s endorsement of Barack Obama’s re-election (which I didn’t even know was coming). Apparently only the union’s elites and insiders got such a voice. The rest of us, who got no fucking voice, are too busy actually working — so that we can pay the SEIU elites’ salaries with our dues, so that they can then sell us out.

I am pro-labor, but SEIU President Mary Kay Henry should resign. She should do something that she’s actually good at — perhaps she should be selling Mary Kay instead of selling out the members of one of the nation’s largest labor unions.

P.S. I e-mailed Mary Kay Henry that she should resign. If I get a response, I’ll share it, but I doubt that I will. To the SEIU elites I’m only good for my dues, which the SEIU elites use to sell me out.

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