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Santa Cruz Union Leaders Arrested Without Cause

Arrested were SEIU 250 Chief Negotiator Greg Nomacher and Administrative Vice President John Borsos.
Santa Cruz Union Leaders Arrested Without Cause

By STEVE ARGUE
As this writer and many other unionists witnessed, on Wednesday April 9th, two leaders of SEIU Local 250 were arrested by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department without cause.

The arrests occurred as a peaceful and legal union rally was winding down. Participants in the rally were workers at Dominican Hospital who are members of SEIU Local 250 and their supporters. The union is struggling for a decent contract.

Arrested were Chief Negotiator Greg Nomacher and Administrative Vice President John Borsos. The arrests occurred without legal cause. The two were obviously targeted for their leadership roles in the union. Deputies waded into the crowd and selected them for arrest, saying nothing to anyone, simply taking the two away in handcuffs.

In response worker’s chanted “shame, shame, shame” at the arresting officers. One unionist said, “I thought they (the deputies) were good union members,” Another worker replied, “Obviously they are not.”

After seeing the events of the day peace activist Louis LaFortune said, “I think the Dominican guy learned his technique at the George W. Bush School of Effective Negotiation.”

The two union leaders were taken to the Santa Cruz County Jail where they were almost immediately released. Neither one was charged with any crime. Bob Downing who went to the county jail to make sure the two were released said that deputies claimed they had to carry out the arrests due to a complaint from Dominican Hospital.

According to such thinking law enforcement now decides who to arrest not based on the law, but upon the complaints of business management. While the anti-worker prejudices of law enforcement are often apparent, usually they try to mask their actions under the cover of legality. Since Nomacher and Borsos had committed no crime, the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department actually violated the law in carrying out false arrests, and violations of the constitutional right to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

Former Santa Cruz Citizen Police Review Board member Sandy Brown called the police action “despicable”.

While these false arrests were meant to intimidate the workers, those present who witnessed the police actions said it would have the opposite effect. The rally ended on an upbeat announcement that the workers had been effective and had made their point.

Member of the SEIU 250 bargaining committee, Paul Frommherz, stated, “We’ve been trying to get a fair contract with Dominican Hospital since last October.” He pointed out that the contract under negotiation will cover, “The housekeeper who cleans your room, the food service worker who prepares and delivers your meal just as the doctor ordered, the technician who performs diagnostic tests and accurately analyzes the results of blood tests, and the medical records people who make your records available for the doctors and nurses who provide your medical care. These are the people represented by SEIU Local 250.”

The hardball stance of Dominican Hospital, owned by Catholic Healthcare, was made all the clearer by today’s Dominican inspired arrests. The fact that management is intimidated is also clear. In the unfolding struggle the members of SEIU Local 250 deserve the deepest solidarity from the Santa Cruz community and from unionists everywhere.

Please send letters to protest against these arrests. The letters will be forwarded to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department, the County Board of Supervisors, and to SEIU Local 250. Send letters to: SteveArgue2 (at) yahoo.com.

Steve Argue is a healthcare worker and member of SEIU Local 415.

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Name Spelling Correction

Chief Negotiator Greg Nammacher's name was spelled wrong when I wrote it as Nomacher. My apologies.
 

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