As a founding member of the Houston Organization of Public Employees, I have been reading the Chronicle’s coverage of the recent janitors’ strike led by SEIU very closely. I read Alice McAfee’s column about the plight of Houston’s underpaid janitorial worker, and then Ms. Sewing’s touching description of Danny Glover’s meeting with Ms. Vasquez with interest and even empathy. I understand and support those workers’ fight for a living wage; HOPE fought hard for, and won, a minimum wage of $10.00 for most City employees. I was a leader in that effort and was proud of it, and of our other accomplishments when we forged the very first contract between the City and its work force.
SEIU even played a role in HOPE’s founding, but as we went through the contract negotiations and then wrote our first constitution, I saw the true face of SEIU. This union paints a moving picture of the plight of their workers, but their true allegiance is to the Left wing of the national Democrat Party, and their real purpose is to advance its agenda. If SEIU’s first concern were really improving the wages and working conditions of janitors, they would work to reduce the influx of “undocumented” workers, who, by their numbers and tenuous legal standing, keep wages artificially low and working conditions bad. When labor unions were at their peak of effectiveness it was because they understood that their primary purpose was to improve the circumstances of their members, and as a result unions played an important role in helping to lift the living standards of generations of working men and women. Perhaps the rich and powerful bosses of Big Labor, who have more in common with the likes of Jaime Dimon than Alice McAfee, would be more successful, and better regarded, if they stuck to representing their members instead of creating social unrest.
I have seen the local leaders of SEIU in Houston accomplish some good, including putting together an imaginative system giving their members access to health care a few years ago, but they would do better to assist their immigrant members to get their documentation in order, and work to stop illegal immigration.
Thanks for listening,
Republican Candidate for Texas House District 143