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1199 SEIU - My Horror Story with the Union - Part 1



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hi this is cam

December 14 2013 and today I'm going to

share a little bit about my experience

with the Union where I work

they're called eleven nine on SEIU it's

a health care workers union mostly

although I don't really work in health

care I just happen to work at medical

library at a university and we're just I

think a number of years ago randomly

housed under with this union and my

experience with 1199 has been pretty

awful nothing has happened lately but

overall I have just I've had a pretty

much not mer dealing with them in any

shape or form specifically with one of

the vice presidents over my local

chapter his name is Victor Rivera and

he's just a terrible awful man as I

learn from a first-hand experience okay

so this starts back when I first started

my job in October 2008 I went to a union

orientation there were lots of people

there we were just sort of sitting

around in a large room waiting around

and finally a woman comes and announces

that I don't think she had anything to

do with the Union but she got word that

the union representative one of the vice

presidents the Victor Rivera wasn't

going to be able to make it but the

union would be reaching out to us to

schedule meetings to go over what it

means to be part of eleven on and on to

get our paperwork to officially sign up

for union membership and for us to just

be paying attention to our you know the

phone or email and that was that so you

know months went by fast forward to May

like late May of the next year 2009 and

all this time I hear nothing at all from

the Union and I honestly I kind of

forgot about Union membership because

you know initially they were supposed to

contact us and they never did

and so in late May I get this letter out

of the blue that's from the Union and

they're like oh we we noticed that you

haven't been paying your membership dues

and you have you never signed up for

Union to be a part of the Union you owe

like close to $500 because they're

charging me from my start point of

employment and I was really thrown off

by this because I'm like oh yeah that's

right no one ever showed up no union

representative ever showed up for the

orientation and gave us paperwork and

explained the benefits of being in the

Union so and now I see like when they

realize that they're not getting money

from me they finally contact so after

getting this letter you know my initial

response is okay I'll sign up for a

union membership I still don't have a

contract I don't have the paperwork I

just have this letter and I don't really

I'm immediately you know uneasy about

the whole retroactive dues it's a large

sum of money it's a hardship for me like

to have to pay like nearly $500 all at

once and you know because I'm not making

a ton of money and so I start reaching

out trying to reach out to anyone I can

at the Union no response whatsoever like

there's a secretary at our local chapter

her name was Donna Broomfield tried

reaching out to her never

I left her voicemails Austin her emails

got nothing I was just like you know

like wanting to meet with someone

because I'm like yeah I realize I have

to sign up but it would be nice to go

over the contract that you have with my

employer and to kind of know what the

union is all about because as as of now

I have no idea I don't know anything

about Lebanon and on all I know is that

they don't show up for orientations and

and they are apparently pretty

unorganized and so I don't get I hear

nothing back at all it's becoming like

impossible to get a hold of these people

even though they're like you know

scrambling to get my money okay so after

digging around a little bit I contact

someone that's like a little higher

and my local chapter and they they do

get Donna brimful to actually contact me

and she claims that she's not received

any emails or voicemails from me which I

don't know if she just honestly is so

unorganized she didn't get them or

ignored them or whatever but anyway I'm

like fine look you know I still would

like to meet with someone and before I

sign any kind of paperwork I would like

to you know get my orientation that I

never got I would love to sit down with

someone of the Union to explain to me

the benefits of joining 1119 arm and uh

and then it was it was really strange

because like a day or two goes ba and on

I don't remember what day it was but I

get a phone call at work while I'm at

the library at the library desk and it's

Victor Rivera and he's he's not friendly

whatsoever and this is the first time

I've ever heard from this man who's the

vice president

11:19 on and he's uh immediately he's

he's like asking me what my problem is

and I mean not like oh do you have it's

like what's your problem anyway well you

know why haven't you signed up for

membership and I just tell him like what

do you mean why I haven't I never

received any paperwork I showed up that

at the orientation and no one was there

and we you know I was told that someone

from the Union would contact me and

Victor Rivera on the phone he just is

like well a lot of people are in your

situation what are you going to do about

it and I'm like what do you mean a lot

of people are in my situation and he

tells me he's like well we failed to

contact a lot of people now we're

getting hold of them and you know you're

not all in one who owes you know these

retroactive dues and I'm like that's

supposed to make me feel better that you

know I didn't say this but I'm like that

you people are you made this mistake

with like all the new employees and now

you're going after them and expecting

them to you know pay these huge lump

sums of money because you didn't show up

to your own orientation and you waited

like months almost a year to like get in

touch with us and he admits that it was

a mahal that it was the union's fault

he admits that which is kind of

surprising as I got to know Victor

Rivera

her and and he his throughout the phone

conversation his town just gets more

also as well and you know when I asked

when I try to ask him

young general questions about the Union

and like the the contract they have with

my employer he just immediately shuts me

down he's like what does it matter why

do you need to meet with the Union you

have to sign up or you'll lose your job

there's no you know it doesn't matter if

you lock the union it doesn't matter if

you lock our contract with your employer

you have to sign up or you're going to

be fired and I'm just like okay look I

need to talk to someone else we're

getting nowhere because at this point

I'm just like this man is being really

hostile with me he's obviously it I mean

it becomes very clear to me that he's

contacting me the union's only content

to me at this point because they want

money they don't care about doing

anything for me as an employee

they don't care on you know anything

about acting on my behalf ah there it's

like the worst example of a union I've

ever seen and so I just tell them so

look I'm left on someone else I need to

go I'm actually at work right so the

phone call ends ok so after this awful

phone call with Victor Rivera at 11:19

on like a day later I get an email from

someone at Labor Relations which has

nothing to do with the Union it's on you

know their labor relations with my

employer the unit at the University and

he's like he he included in the message

an email from Victor Rivera asking for

me to be terminated because I'd failed

to sign up for a union membership and

and just got liver relations he's very

friendly he's like you know you need to

reach out and talk to someone at the

Union right away and hopefully solve

this problem that's going on and I'm

just very flabbergasted that this

victory very vice president xi on and on

his immediate go-to thing is to have me

fired and I'm like okay isn't the Union

supposed to help keep me from being laid

off and whatever and they're you know

this is my first encounter with eleven

Einon and Victor Rivera's trying to have

me fired even after he admits that it's

not my whole that I haven't

for you know membership because no one

ever contacted me no one ever got me the

paper or no no one ever got me a

contract to even read and so I'm you

know kind of freaking out this one

because I don't want to lose my job but

also don't want to join the Union even

though I know I kind of will probably

have to but I'm like how can I be

excited about giving the Union money on

a monthly basis after paying them a lump

sum ah when they're kind of like going

after me asking that I be fired and so

Austin more messages to the Union and to

the labor relations guy explaining the

situation from my point of view and lo

and behold a day or two after that goes

by and then Friday nah I'm working alone

at the library at the time I was working

circulation and I was I was in the

process of getting ready to close and

this large really large hefty man very

jolly just a big man much larger than me

come stomping in and I see a shirt it's

like he's wearing a purple shirt shirt

that has like the Union 1199 SEIU and so

I'm like okay and I just know right away

I have a bad feeling that this is Victor

Rivera and I'm like well was he stomping

in the library and so he comes up to the

desk he's like you I got to talk to you

right now you're Cameron aren't you and

and I'm like well yeah you know I'm kind

of working right now he's like I just

need ten minutes I need I need you to

come with me for ten minutes and we got

a we got to figure this out right now

and I'm just like I can't come with you

anywhere I look around I'm the only

person working you know this is I'm like

you should have called you should you

know if you want to come during the day

or you know another time with their

other employees here my supervisor he

knows all about this this issue that I'm

having with the Union and he'll be more

than happy to you know allow me Tom to

meet with you at an appropriate you know

time when there's other people around

and so he's Victor I mean he's not

friendly from the very GetGo he's he's

very hostile and he's like I came all

the way from my office in Midtown to

confront you and now

his word I remember he said to confront

you not a lot discuss you know union

membership with you there's nothing

friendly about this and he's like and

you're gonna talk to me and and I'm at

first I'm like well okay you can talk

bah you know I have to work closing in

like 15 minutes so I have to start you

know shutting down the cash register

putting books away taking care of

last-minute things with the students and

and then like as I think about it as

he's just sitting there kind of like

it's almost like steam is coming out of

his ears this I mean he's like huffing

he's so mad I don't know if he's mad

because he came all the way up from his

office in Midtown or he just doesn't

like me for whatever reason because I'm

making a small part of his job difficult

bah anyway he he just continues sitting

there and I'm like look you know I think

you're gonna you you're just gonna have

to go and I can like make an appointment

you can make an appointment we can talk

but right now this is just not there

calm Oh and he doesn't like that he just

goes off on me and he's like pointing

and like there's literally like spittle

coming out of his mouth

as he and he's like talking very loud

and it gets the point where he's yelling

he's like you know you need to just sign

this paperwork now if you want to keep

your job you're gonna be fired if you

don't take care of this right now I'm

here what are you gonna do and I'm just

like look you got to leave this is

getting out of hand and I mean I

maintain my composure I'm not like

yelling because I'm like this is a

library this is where I work this is

becoming embarrassing because students

are around and they're kind of looking

and there were some students sitting

nearby and like as Victor like started

talking and yelling louder and louder

these students get up and leave and I'm

like gee thanks for helping me out

but uh and I you know at this point I've

asked him to leave three or four Tom so

I'm like you got to go I have to

actually do my job close the library and

you're you know you're causing a scene

and he's you know telling me you're

gonna lose your job he just won't drop

it at all and uh and so I'm like look uh

I'm gonna have to call security if you

don't leave and he's like okay fun do

whatever you want he's not going anyway

he's like leaning over the counter he's

and he's like whoa and oh at one point

he told me he's like well I can wait for

you outside

I'll be outside and you get out of work

and I just am like I started feeling

like you know I was in gambling debt and

the loan sharks have sent the the bully

with his baseball bat to like break my

legs I mean that's what I mean no joke

at all about to make lot of it because

it was a very serious situation I

thought any moment he was going to like

reach over and start trying to punch me

I mean he was huge hugely like upset and

frustrated and you know very hostile and

just his whole demeanor was very

threatening and I honestly thought he

was going to hit me and when he starts

saying that he was going to wait for me

outside I was like this I can't do this

so I you know I call security and I'm

like I've asked this man to leave quite

a few times now he needs to be escorted

out and so Victor Rivera he starts like

arguing with a security guard that he

has every right to be there and you know

he's trying to do his job and that you

know I'm gonna be fired if I don't deal

with him and he starts telling those

security guards that I haven't paid my

membership dues and I'm gonna lose my

job and and she's just like the security

guard was great she's uh just telling

him like look he's the only library

employee here he's sort of in charge of

things he's actually I don't care why

you're here you need to go and so after

a lot of back and forth he's arguing

with her the whole tom uh he does leave

with her because I think he realizes at

this point if she has to call backup

he's gonna be in serious trouble and so

he does leave and I'm just like I'm

freaking out because I'm like I can't

believe this just happened like a

victory bear of $11.99 my real first

encounter with this union that supposed

to be a part of has come and look

threatened to that I'm going to be fired

and you know and is yelling at me and

telling me that I have to deal with him

right now whether I like it or not and I

was very shaken by the whole thing

all right I'm going to pause here this

is part one of my my

awful story of my dealings with 1199

SEIU and I'll tell you how this all was

rectified in my next post