Thursday, January 17, 2019

California Hospital Workers Try to Bolt SEIU-UHW due to Bad Contracts



Dave Regan’s relentless spending on ballot initiatives is not only producing repeated losses at the ballot box for SEIU-UHW, it’s also generating decertification efforts by the union’s own members.

Two weeks ago, workers at 158-bed USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in Los Angeles filed a petition to dump SEIU-UHW and work without a union because they say SEIU-UHW has failed to win improved wages and health insurance for 230 workers there, according to NLRB records and the Glendale News-Press. (Lila Seidman, “Vote on keeping USC hospital union could come within weeks, employee says,” Glendale News-Press, January 8, 2019.)

Regan’s multi-million-dollar spending on ballot initiatives has left SEIU-UHW’s members with fewer resources for workplace organizing and representation... and weaker contracts. According to the worker who filed the petition at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a majority of employees signed the decertification petition and are backing the effort to bolt from SEIU-UHW.

 “A vote on whether or not to keep a healthcare workers’ union at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale could come as early as the end of the month,” the Glendale News-Press reported last week. 

Last October, workers at the same hospital submitted an identical request but SEIU-UHW’s attorneys blocked it, saying the request was filed two days late. SEIU-UHW has made no such claims about the current filing, although SEIU-UHW’s lawyers are filing “unfair labor practice” charges in an effort to stall the vote.

The decertification effort offers a stark counterpoint to what’s happening at USC’s other two acute-care hospitals.

More than 1,100 workers at 401-bed USC Keck Medical Center and 60-bed USC Norris Cancer Center are represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). During recent years, they’ve waged a series of aggressive negotiating campaigns, including strikes and pickets, that boosted workers’ wages, health insurance, and retirement benefits.

Last spring, NUHW forced the two hospitals to in-source more than 100 subcontracted food service and housekeeping workers, leading to pay increases of up to 80%. One group of recently in-sourced workers had been members of SEIU United Service Workers West for years and were paid just above the minimum wage. After they voted to leave SEIU, NUHW successfully pressured the two hospitals to dump Sodexo, USC’s subcontractor, and to hire the workers directly.

Due to NUHW's success, hundreds more USC workers have voted to join NUHW through NLRB elections.

If workers at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital vote to decertify SEIU-UHW, it will put an even brighter spotlight on Regan’s decision to pour tens of millions of dollars of the union’s funds down the toilet in Dave's illusory quest for unionization via ballot initiative.

Stay tuned.



Friday, January 11, 2019

Price Soars for Dave Regan’s Ballot Initiatives



Dave Regan’s famously unsuccessful “ballot initiative” strategy just got a lot more expensive in California.

If you’re a member of SEIU-UHW, heads up. Diamond Dave will now be able to waste your dues dollars much faster than before.

Regan’s unquenchable thirst for ballot-initiative failure isn’t mere speculation. 

Several months ago, Regan pledged to re-file his unsuccessful dialysis ballot measure in 2020. He made this pledge just days after voters rejected Dave’s dialysis measure by a blow-out margin: 61.5% (“No”) to 38.5% (“Yes”).

Why is the price tag jumping for California ballot initiatives?

Every four years, California readjusts the number of valid voter signatures that must be collected in order to place an initiative on the statewide ballot. Specifically, it takes 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor during the most recent election.

That threshold was re-set during last November’s gubernatorial election when large numbers of voters turned out to boot Republican congressmembers from office. The threshold jumped from 365,879 valid signatures to 623,212 valid signatures.

That’s gonna make it much more expensive to put measures on the ballot. SEIU-UHW hires companies to collect signatures from voters, typically paying them between $2 to $3 per signature. Campaigns must collect far more signatures than the threshold because a certain percentage of signatures turn out to be invalid.

So that’s why the costs associated with statewide initiatives are going to “skyrocket,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (John Wildermuth, “Qualifying a California ballot measure to become a ‘playground of billionaires,’” San Francisco Chronicle, January 2, 2019.)

According to the newspaper: 
It already costs at least $2 million to qualify a measure for the ballot, and that’s before a single dollar is spent on a campaign to actually win the election. The new signature numbers are likely to boost that amount dramatically.

How much will the costs jump?

At least to $3.4 million, according to analysts.

So, unless Regan finally owns up to his record of uninterrupted failure, SEIU-UHW members can expect Dave to blindly pour more and more of their dues dollars into ballot initiatives… rather than using these precious resources to fund aggressive contract campaigns, organizing drives, and representational work to support the union’s members.


Friday, January 4, 2019

NUHW Hits Kaiser with Strike


The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) is taking on Kaiser Permanente again.

Not through ballot initiatives, which is Dave Regan’s preferred approach.

But through strikes… which SEIU-UHW hasn’t attempted against any healthcare company in years.

Last month, 4,000 NUHW members conducted a weeklong strike against dozens of Kaiser facilities across California. The strikers included Psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychiatric RNs, Medical Social Workers, Addiction Medicine Specialists, Dietitians, Health Educators, and others.

It was the largest strike by mental health therapists in the nation's history, according to NUHW.

What do the strikers want? They're demanding more staff.

Kaiser’s chronic understaffing of its mental health clinics forces patients with depression, bipolar disorder, and other conditions to wait two months or more for appointments.

Strikers were joined by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy -- the author of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and a national leader of mental health reform efforts -- who flew across the US to join them on the picket line.

RNs from the California Nurses Association and members of the Stationary Engineers Local 39 also joined picket lines across the state.

According to NUHW, the strike produced more than 1,000 press stories.

And one thousand patients reported their stories of Kaiser’s delayed care -- including suicides and other tragic outcomes -- to the union’s “Kaiser Don’t Deny” website, according to NUHW.

This isn’t the first time that NUHW has taken on Kaiser.

Several years ago, NUHW hit Kaiser with a series of statewide strikes and successfully got the state to fine the giant HMO $4 million for illegally delaying their patients’ mental health appointments. NUHW documented more than a dozen suicides connected to Kaiser's delayed care.

Check out this three-minute TV news story about the strike and Kaiser’s understaffed mental health clinics.




Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Top SEIU Official to Leave at End of Month


Laphonza Butler and Mary Kay Henry

Laphonza Butler -- the President of SEIU Local 2015 -- is quitting her job at the end of December.

Readers will recall that she was appointed to run the union after its former president, Tyrone Freeman, went to jail for a massive corruption scandal. 

During Butler’s tenure, more local unions were merged into the mega-union including 65,000 long-term care workers transferred from Dave Regan’s SEIU-UHW. Butler also serves on SEIU’s International Executive Board and is reportedly a close ally of Mary Kay Henry.

So why is Butler leaving her position atop a giant union with hundreds of thousands of members? 

Here’s what she’s saying publicly: “The time has come for new leadership to take Local 2015 to its next great victories.”

What’s the real story?

It turns out she’s jumping ship to become a partner at a political consulting/communications firm based in California, according to a Dec. 7 article in the Los Angeles Times:
“Butler will be a partner in the newly rechristened firm SCRB Strategies, along with veteran strategists Ace Smith, Sean Clegg and Juan Rodriguez. Their clients include Newsom, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a frequent subject of speculation in her own right about 2020 presidential ambitions.”

According to the firm’s website, “SCRB also advises Fortune 500 companies, major developers, and sports franchises regarding crisis, PR, and public affairs.” 

One of the firm’s corporate clients is PG&E, which is facing allegations that its faulty equipment sparked the massive wildfires that ravaged California during the past two years and killed more than 100 people. PG&E will no doubt pay a pretty penny to SCRB.

In other words, Butler’s motivation might be summarized as “ka-ching.”

The firm, formerly known as “SCN Strategies,” has added a “B” at the end of its name to indicate its fourth partner, Laphonza Butler, along with partners Smith, Clegg and Rodriguez.

Interestingly, Butler may soon find herself across a table from Dave Regan, whom she reportedly can’t stomach.

How?

Regan has hired the firm to run some of his failed ballot initiatives, including SEIU-UHW’s 2014 ballot initiative targeting the California Hospital Association.

Like planets caught in the same gravitational field, their paths may soon collide again. 




Friday, November 30, 2018

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan: “Most Expensive Loser in California Elections”




Dave Regan’s ballot-initiative bonanza has helped him secure the distinction of being the ‘biggest loser’ in California’s 2018 elections, according to CalMatters.

In an article this week, CalMatters -- a daily publication covering California politics -- reported that Regan’s ballot measure targeting the dialysis industry won “the distinction of being the costliest losing campaign of the year.”

SEIU-UHW “not only failed to shackle the profits of the state’s dialysis clinics as planned, they ended up spending more than any other losing campaign—$38 million or $8.49 per vote,” according to the publication. (Ben Christopher, “How much did interest groups pay per vote? The answer, as we break down the midterms with data,” CalMatters, November 26, 2018)

Way to go, Dave! 

Not everyone can claim to be the “most expensive loser” of California’s 2018 political season.



Friday, November 16, 2018

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan Suffers $4.1 Million Self-Inflicted Blunder in Ohio Ballot Initiative


SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

Just in case Dave Regan’s lopsided defeat on last week’s ballot measures wasn’t bad enough, he suffered an even more embarrassing ballot-initiative blunder in his home state of Ohio.

In a f*ck-up of interstellar proportions, Regan’s Ohio dialysis initiative was knocked off the ballot because, well, Dave forgot to have his signature-gatherers fill out a required state form.

Way to go, Dave!

It gets worse. Ya see, Dave didn’t happen to notice his mistake until he’d already spent upwards of $4.1 million on his Ohio initiative. D’oh!

Of course, we’ve all made mistakes, right? But have you ever made a $4 million mistake? And it wasn’t even Dave’s money!

Here’s what happened.

After Regan’s SEIU-UHW filed an initiative against the kidney dialysis industry in California, Dave then filed copycat initiatives in both Arizona and Ohio in an apparent attempt to "up the ante" on industry leaders.

Months later, Regan abandoned his effort in Arizona.

But in Ohio, Dave soldiered on like a preacher consumed by the holy spirit. He spent millions on signature gatherers in a fervent quest to qualify his initiative, called the “Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Amendment.”

In fact, Dave paid $3.6 million to a California signature-gathering company called PCI Consultants (headed by Angelo Paparella) to run his Ohio effort, according to campaign expenditure records from the Ohio Secretary of State.

And he paid thousands to the law firm of his private Ohio attorney, Michael Hunter of “Hunter, Carnahan, Shoub, Byard, & Harshman.”


In late July, Regan triumphantly filed 296,000 signatures to try to qualify his constitutional amendment for the ballot. But he was 9,500 signatures short. Fortunately for Dave, the Ohio Constitution gave him ten more days to collect the missing signatures. One more chance!

Ten days later, after spending even more money on his signature-gathering campaign, Regan finally hit the target. Except for one important thing. Dave’s crack team forgot to have the signature gatherers sign a state-required form required before collecting voter signatures. Whoops!

Dave’s opponents, the Ohio Renal Association, leapt on Dave’s blunder like a pack of hungry wolves on a T-bone steak. They sued to block Dave’s initiative on the grounds that his signatures were invalid. In a 7-0 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed, thereby knocking Dave’s multimillion dollar initiative off the November 2018 ballot. 

(Jackie Borchardt, “Ohio kidney dialysis ballot issue invalidated by state Supreme Court,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 13, 2018; Laura A. Bischoff and Kaitlin Schroeder, “Ohio Supreme Court kicks kidney dialysis issue off the November ballot,” Dayton Daily News, August 13, 2018.)

When the court’s decision was announced, it must’ve been quite a scene at the Renal Association… execs doing back flips, taunting Dave for his colossal blunder, etc.

It turns out that Dave’s self-inflicted failure is even worse than it first appears.

Why?

In 2016, Regan committed the same exact dumb-ass blunder in Arizona, which caused another one of Dave’s initiatives to be stripped from that state’s ballot.

How did George W. Bush put it? “Fool me once, shame on... Fool me twice, shame on...” Except, of course, George kinda garbled it all up. (Here’s the YouTube video.)

So what’s up with Dave?

Maybe his memory ain’t so good these days. Perhaps his fistfight in a Sacramento bar and his headline-grabbing assault on a process-server have resulted in the premature demise of a few of Dave’s brain cells.

But you gotta hand it to Dave. When he f*cks up, he really f*cks up big-time.

According to campaign disclosure records, Regan spent $4.1 million on his Ohio campaign. And in June, he loaned $1.7 million of SEIU-UHW’s funds to the Ohio campaign. That money has not been repaid, according to the Ohio Secretary of State. These figures don’t include all of the national TV advertising, which tallied millions more.

Regular people get fired if we make a $50 screw-up at work.

So why isn’t Dave held accountable for his repeated multi-million-dollar blunders? Shouldn’t he be fired?

To view campaign expenditure records, go to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website and retrieve records for Regan’s PAC: “Ohioans for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection” (PAC Registration No. BI1793). The PAC’s address is: 777 S. Figueroa Street Suite 4050 Los Angeles, CA 90017.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Dave Regan’s Ballot Initiatives Are Routed despite Millions in SEIU-UHW Funding



On Tuesday, SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan suffered a severe drubbing at the polling place despite having spent upwards of $30 million on ballot initiatives this year.

Regan’s biggest measure -- California’s Proposition 8 targeting dialysis companies -- was defeated by a tally of 61.5% (“No”) to 38.5% (“Yes”), according to the California Secretary of State.

Ouch.

Regan dumped more than $20 million of SEIU-UHW’s budget into that campaign.

Why did Regan lose so badly?

He was vastly outspent by his opponents. Plus, Regan ran a sloppy and poorly designed campaign, say analysts.
The proposition also was poorly written and difficult for voters to understand, said Erin Trish, associate director of health policy at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.

(Ana B. Ibarra and Anna Gorman, “Measure To Cap Dialysis Profits Pummeled,” California Healthline, November 8, 2018.)

Gerald Kominski, a senior fellow at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said Regan’s campaign, unlike his opponents’ effort, failed to deliver a clear message to voters about why they should support it.

In case losing wasn’t bad enough, Regan also helped deliver a giant payday to his multi-billion dollar opponents. The day after the election, the stock price of both DaVita and Fresenius soared. In fact, DaVita’s share price jumped by 9.9%, according to CNBC.

Way to go, Dave!

Regan’s loss on Proposition 8 wasn’t his only defeat.

In Northern California, voters delivered an even bigger thumping. 

Two city-wide ballot initiatives lost by a landslide. In Palo Alto, Regan’s Measure F lost by a margin of 77% (“No”) to 23% (“Yes”). Meanwhile, in Livermore, Measure U lost by a margin of 82% (“No”) to 17% (“Yes”).

Both initiatives targeted Stanford Health Care in an effort to pressure the healthcare system into giving Regan a special unionization deal. If the measures had been approved, they would have capped healthcare providers’ revenues.
SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

Duane Dauner – the former CEO of the California Hospital Association and Regan’s one-time paramour --   led the campaigns to defeat the two initiatives. Meanwhile, Regan’s former pals at Kaiser Permanente contributed money to defeat Regan’s initiatives.

Will Regan finally hang up the towel on ballot initiatives?

This year, he doubled down on his so-called “innovative” strategy of using ballot initiatives to “rebuild” the US labor movement. And he circulated more initiatives than during the past six years combined. At the end of the day, however, not a single measure was successful.

As a result, Dave successfully flushed upwards of $30 million of SEIU-UHW members’ dues money down the toilet.

Has Regan finally learned his lesson?

It doesn’t look like it. Late on election day, Regan issued a press release announcing his plans to refile the same dialysis ballot initiative in 2020. WTF.

Will SEIU-UHW’s members allow Dave to flush millions more dollars down the toilet?