In March, SEIU-UHW fired whistleblower Njoke Woods after she went on the record with Payday Report about a culture of sexual misconduct, favoritism, and backroom dealing against the members that were rampant with the union. In her dismissal letter, 4 of the 6 pages describing why she was fired focus on the statements she made in an interview with Payday Report.
Now, in what is seen as a retaliatory move by #metoo activists within SEIU, Woods is being sued by SEIU-UHW and SEIU International Vice President Dave Reagan for defamation. Regan previously had warned whistleblowers in a public meeting witnessed by many about coming forward about allegations.
According to SEIU-UHW, Woods is being sued because of a March 1st interview she gave with Payday Report describing the culture of sexual misconduct, favoritism, and corruption within the notoriously corrupt union.
“Based on statements from Woods, Elk alleged that SEIU-UHW and its staff engaged in sexual favoritism, illegal Union electioneering, and ‘selling out its members in backroom deals,’ wrote SEIU-UHW and Regan in a lawsuit filed in Riverside County, California in late April. “The statements made by Woods to Elk [as outlined in the defamation lawsuit] constitute an unscrupulous form of character assassination, consisting (of) nothing more than an attack on the integrity, ethical character competence of SEIU-UHW and Regan”.
(Read the full interview here “EXCLUSIVE: SEIU VP Dave Regan Accused of Sexual Misconduct & Retaliating Against Whistleblowers”)
The firing and lawsuit come as SEIU-UHW, the second largest local affiliate of SEIU, is facing a high profile sexual misconduct lawsuit brought by an SEIU organizer Mindy Sturge. SEIU #metoo activist has made it known that they don’t want activists to speak out about the problems that have plagued the organization.
Nearly all the allegations about sexual misconduct and sexual favoritism brought by Woods are corroborated in the lawsuit being brought by Sturge.
Additionally, charges of backroom dealing by SEIU leadership against their rank-and-file have been backed by various media reports and by a 2011 National Labor Relations Board ruling that SEIU-UHW illegally colluded with Kaiser Permanente to target union activists of rival union National Union of Healthcare Workers.
Woods quickly dismissed the lawsuit as yet another scare tactic being brought by what she saw as the “bully management” of SEIU.
“It’s definitely retaliation,” says Woods. “They want other people to be afraid of speaking up, they have a lot of secrets that they don’t want people to know about”.