A less perfect union - Page 3

At a time when organized labor is slipping, SEIU's national leaders are wasting their resources trying to discredit Sal Rosselli
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Sal Rosselli
Photo by Charles Russo

The Committee on Jobs is one of the largest lobbying organizations for downtown San Francisco business interests and has fought against numerous union causes. Mosher told the Guardian by phone that, as of November of last year, the Committee is no longer a BMWL client.

THE ROSSELLI FILE

Dewar claims Sal Rosselli was the central topic of conversation at the dinner. At one point, he says, the participants discussed an "oppo research" file on Rosselli compiled by Sutter Health. The hospital giant has clashed repeatedly with Rosselli and apparently had sought to dig up dirt on him.

Whitehurst worked for Sutter in the 1990s. His efforts for the hospital chain during a ballot campaign in 1997 earned him a place on the California Labor Federation's "do not patronize" list.

Mosher confirmed by phone that Rosselli's file at Sutter did in fact come up at Oliveto that evening. But he said Dewar "baited" him and Whitehurst into discussing it. Furthermore, he said, Whitehurst reported that Rosselli's file was "clean."

In fact, a March 12, 2008 e-mail from Dewar to Mosher suggests that the team focus on Rosselli's "hypocrisy" and states, "Have we approached anyone at Sutter re: dirt on Sal? Have we been able to peek into their oppo file?"

Later that day Mosher replied, "John Whitehurst read Sutter's whole oppo file on Sal in 1997." In a follow-up message, Mosher writes that the file "really supports the idea that he's not motivated by money."

DeBruin did not return calls for comment. Kami Lloyd, communications coordinator for Sutter, disputed whether the oppo file even existed: "To my knowledge," she told us, "no such file exists at Sutter Health."

Reached for comment, Rosselli reacted angrily to news of the alleged "skunk team" and the fact that a research file on him, compiled by a corporation perceived to be anti-union, was being discussed among SEIU officials. "It's shocking. It's treasonous. For Andy Stern to be using our members' dues money to finance [a smear] campaign against his own members in United Healthcare Workers, it's fundamentally anti-union."

Mosher defended his firm's involvement with SEIU. He told us that he and Whitehurst were "not brought on board to do negative things against Sal Rosselli." Instead, he said their mission has been to help tout the union's accomplishments as it prepares to hold its convention from June 1-4 in Puerto Rico.

SEIU spokesman Andy McDonald echoed Mosher's description of the firm's duties. Both Mosher and McDonald brought up the fact that Whitehurst has also worked for Rosselli's UHW union.

UHW's Paul Kumar confirmed that Whitehurst is currently "on our payroll" to assist in a dispute against Sutter Health — the very company Whitehurst worked for in the 1990s and the same source that provided him with access to Rosselli's research file. "These guys [BMWL] claim they are trying to reinvent themselves," Kumar said. "But to be on our payroll and to engage directly in executing a dirty tricks program ... is about the most blatant violation of professional ethics I can imagine."

Whitehurst did not return calls for comment.

Dewar claimed he urged Mooney and the other attendees of the March 10 dinner to consider "appropriating" Rosselli's democratic reforms. "The members would all wildly support it.

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