SEIU board wants to strip member-elected president of power

Chantal Lovell

Communications Director

Chantal Lovell
September 8, 2021

SEIU board wants to strip member-elected president of power

Entrenched union bosses in California’s largest public-sector union are again moving to silence the voice of members, this time, by working to strip the organization’s just-elected president of his authority.

Last week, the Sacramento Bee reported on a proposal by SEIU 1000 board member William Hall to strip new union president Richard Brown of his powers and replace him with a newly created chairperson who’d be appointed by the union board. The move is the latest example of legacy union leaders acting in complete opposition to membership, and reveals a sharp divide between working class union members and elite union bosses.

Worse, Hall and his ilk plan to remove Brown outside the union’s own recall process, which would at least give membership a say in the matter and ensure the president was removed for cause, not because the board dislikes his platform. Instead, the board intends to unseat the new leader a mere months after his election and replace him with someone more inclined to tow the union-boss line than “take on the status quo,” as Brown promised during his campaign this past spring.

“They don’t want to acknowledge me as the president,” Brown told the Sac Bee. “They want to undo everything I’ve done since I’ve been in office so far.”

Among Brown’s campaign promises were to get the union out of politics, allow non-members represented by the union to vote in its elections, not support Gavin Newsom in his recall election, and refocus SEIU 1000 on improving member services rather than partisan politics. Indeed, in the union’s own bylaws describe it as an organization working to achieve “social justice.”

This is just the latest example of the union leadership working to silence the new president, and by extension, the members who voted for him. Brown has been unable to assemble a quorum and conduct union business since his election because the board refuses to show up for meetings, and one union officer made headlines when she texted out a vulgar slur aimed at Brown. Throughout the summer, the board and Brown have been split on other issues such as vaccine mandates for workers (which Brown opposes), the planned closure of a state prison in Susanville (which Brown is working to stop), and more. Perhaps the most egregious example of the board ignoring membership’s wishes was its decision to send Gavin Newsom a $1 million campaign contribution days after Brown (who’d campaigned on the promise not to support Newsom) was elected but before his inauguration.

While the union bosses have formally put their support — and member dues — behind Newsom, it appears many SEIU 1000 members stand squarely behind Brown, marching alongside him in recent protests againstNewsom’s vaccine mandates and decision to close the prison.

Though SEIU 1000 members’ voices may be silenced by their union’s leadership, they do still have one way to send a clear message: they may drop union membership, taking their dues with them. Workers who wish to leave SEIU 1000 or any other public-sector union may do so quickly and safely by visiting

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