By Josh Richman
Monday, April 21st, 2008 at 3:59 pm in General.
The Service Employees International Union today asked the Alameda County Superior Court to vacate a temporary restraining order filed against it and its president, Andy Stern, last week at the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee‘s behest.
The SEIU has filed a motion to vacate the TRO, as well as a separate motion under California’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law. The latter motion is necessary, the SEIU claims, because the CNA/NNOC sought the restraining order solely “to smear SEIU and Mr. Stern in the national media and to chill free speech by SEIU members and supporters.” The anti-SLAPP motion, if successful, would result in the whole case being thrown out of court and would let the SEIU recover attorneys’ fees.
From the CNA’s news-release response:
CNA/NNOC attorney Pam Allen noted that free speech is very different than the actions employed by SEIU bands who have gone to the nursing stations of CNA/NNOC leaders looking for them and demanding home addresses and phone numbers, following them in cars, pounding on their doors, pointing video cameras in their faces, screaming at them, and refusing to leave until being told the police were on the way.
In a statement to the court, Margie Keenan, RN, a CNA/NNOC Board member described one such visit to her home which also included visits by SEIU to the nursing floor in the Long Beach hospital where she works.
At her home “they began yelling loudly, demanding that I come and speak with them in a very aggressive, boisterous manner. I became very scared, as they continued yelling and pounding on my door, so I dialed 911 and asked the operator to dispatch police as soon as possible. While I was waiting for the police to arrive, I climbed the stairs to the second floor of my house and went quietly to a balcony to wait for the police. After several minutes, they began to leave, then saw me on the balcony and began yelling again. I went immediately back into the house and waited for the police to arrive. By the time the police came, the intruders were gone.
“I was very frightened by the approach at my home because it was extremely aggressive and hostile, and I live alone. Shortly after they left my house, I received a telephone call on my home phone and the caller asked for me by name. I recognized the voice as one of the intruders and immediately hung up the phone. She later learned of the visit to her nursing floor.
“I felt very unsettled and frightened by these events, so much so that I did not feel able to report to work (the following two days) which were my next scheduled days of work. I called in sick both of those days and learned over the weekend of a number of events that have only increased my fear and concern for my personal safety,” Keenan declared.
The SEIU’s news release claims Alameda County Superior Court Commissioner Jon Rantzman this afternoon said he was “strongly of the belief” that the TRO doesn’t pass muster under the state’s Labor Code, and gave the CNA one day — until 3 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, April 22 — to respond to the motion to vacate before he makes a ruling.
The unions are at war over accusations that the CNA/NNOC has been trying to poach SEIU’s current or potential nurse members. The CNA/NNOC says SEIU teams recently have targeted CNA/NNOC leaders in nursing stations, harassed them at home, and followed cars.