Standing Up to Hardball Tactics
Jennifer Parrish, who operates a daycare business out of her home in Minnesota, was first approached by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in her own home. In 2006, an uninvited man showed up at her doorstep, walked inside when she opened the door, and asked her to sign a petition calling for the state to provide a health plan to daycare providers. According to Jennifer, it became clear after a few minutes that this man was not going away until she signed the petition. She told him she would take a copy and sign it after she read it. Reluctantly, he left.
At the time, SEIU was trying to organize Minnesota’s child care providers. When Jennifer got around to reading the petition, she realized that that it wasn’t about a health plan, as the man had told her, but part of a union organizing drive. Jennifer had been lied to.
Jennifer refused to play ball. Sometimes organizers tried to intimidate her. She recounts organizers following her to her car in an effort to show her that she was being watched. However, after she spoke out, most of the intimidation stopped. Eventually the Supreme Court affirmed the right of private care providers not to be forced into SEIU with the Harris v. Quinn decision.
In Missouri, we’re seeing similar stories coming out of SEIU organizing campaigns.
Take Mark Manteuffel, a biology adjunct at Washington University. St. Louis Public Radio reports this story about an SEIU organizer showing up at Mark’s doorstep and approaching his wife:
“They were just very pushy and rude,” Manteuffel said of the union representatives, “demanding my cell phone number. And they didn't introduce themselves first off, they just approached her and asked for me. So she stood back and asked them who they were and why they were looking for me. And she said that I would contact them if I was interested after they introduced themselves.
“The second time, the person said that they would show back up again, and she said no, he will contact you if he's interested. And they kind of huffed and puffed and said again that they would show up, and she said no, you're not listening to me, if you show up again, I will call the police and have you removed. Then the gentlemen seemed to get it.”
The campaign to organize Missouri’s in-home health care attendants is another front where SEIU has been active in our state. In 2010, the SEIU-backed Missouri Home Care Union won the right to represent all home care attendants despite receiving votes from less than 16% of attendants. Since then, the union has sought support from attendants who aren’t already members.
I’m hoping that the tactics used in Missouri don’t get as bad as they’ve been in other places. However, SEIU is not a member of the AFL-CIO and doesn’t always play by the same rules as an AFL-CIO union. For people who feel they’ve been targeted or persecuted for resisting SEIU’s organization drives, speaking out might be the best defense.