International Executive Board of SEIU Unanimously Adopts Landmark Ethics & Standards Package for Union

International Executive Board of SEIU Unanimously Adopts Landmark Ethics & Standards Package for Union

Published 1:12 PM Eastern - Monday, June 15, 2009

Ali Jost, (202) 730-7159

Eleven New Members Elected to SEIU International Executive Board; Two New Executive Vice Presidents Named

WASHINGTON, DC--At the June meeting of the International Executive Board (IEB) of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the highest governing body of the union between conventions, board members voted unanimously over the weekend to adopt a rigorous and sweeping package of ethical standards and practices to be applied union-wide.

"Union members place tremendous trust in their leaders. SEIU elected officers and managers owe not just fiduciary obligations to union members but, given the moral purpose of our mission, SEIU leaders owe members the highest level of ethical behavior in the exercise of all leadership decisions and financial dealings on members' behalf," states the SEIU Code of Ethical Practices and Conflict of Interest Policy.

The code is based on recommendations from the SEIU Commission on Ethics and Standards, a Commission comprised of a nationally respected panel of retired judges, academics, clergy, ethicists and SEIU representatives who were charged last fall with improving union-wide ethics guidelines, practices, enforcement and education efforts.

"SEIU has made a serious and comprehensive move towards greater transparency and accountability at a critical time for the union and the larger progressive movement," said Catherine Fisk, a professor at the UC Irvine School of Law who served on the SEIU Commission on Ethics and Standards. "From setting broad-sweeping ethics guidelines, to developing new mechanisms for financial reporting, and to implementing a robust, union-wide training program, SEIU has created a landmark program to help locals be the best possible stewards of member dues."

Ethics Officer, Ombudsman & Committee Named
In addition to the code, the IEB also adopted the recommendation to develop a structure to foster the implementation and enforcement of the code throughout the union. The IEB unanimously voted to name Justice James R. Zazzali, retired New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice and independent chair of the Commission, as SEIU's first Ethics Officer, an outside position charged with reviewing ethics complaints and issues and providing counsel to the union on how to respond.

Martha Walfoort was named to the newly created position of Ethics Ombudsperson. Among other things, Walfoort will lead comprehensive trainings on ethics policies, reaching all SEIU leaders, affiliate leaders and executive board officers.

The IEB also created an Ethics Review Board, an independent body that will review appeals of internal union cases on violations of the ethics code. The IEB appointed the following to the Board: Catherine Fisk, a professor at the UC Irvine School of Law; Reverend Nelson Johnson, a pastor of Faith Community Church and member of the UNITE HERE Public Review Board; and Ben Sachs, an associate professor at Harvard Law School.

Training Program Announced; Locals to Be Provided Additional Support
All SEIU International and local union staff and officers will participate in an initial training on the new code and policy, as well as ongoing training sessions where they will receive the necessary tools and information to apply the ethical standards in their everyday work. Staff and officers will also have access to an ongoing forum to discuss ethical issues they face in their work. Training will be tailored to each staff role as well as to the ethical leadership responsibilities of officers and members of the local and international executive boards.

Eleven New IEB Members Elected; Two Executive Vice Presidents Named
Also at this week's meeting, the board elected four new vice presidents: Edgar Romney, Noel Beasley and Alex Dagg from the Workers United conference and Kim Cook of SEIU Local 925, who was already a member of the IEB.

Seven other leaders were also elected to the board, including Neal Bisno (SEIU Healthcare PA), Laphonza Butler (SEIU Local 6434), Marge Faville (SEIU Healthcare Michigan), Mark Fleischman (Workers United), Lynne Fox (Workers United), Sergio Salinas (SEIU Local 6) and John Tanner (SEIU Local 721).

The IEB also elected two new Executive Vice Presidents: Workers United President Bruce Raynor and SEIU Director of Property Services Mitch Ackerman.

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With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy.

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