Friday, October 11, 2019

Controversy Brews over Allegations of a Stealth “Partnership Tax” by SEIU-UHW


Controversy is still brewing over SEIU-UHW’s tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente. Membership votes to ratify the agreement are underway and will continue next week.

What’s the controversy?

As Tasty reported earlier, SEIU-UHW president Dave Regan was pushing to impose a new 25-cents-per-hour-worked “partnership tax” on SEIU-UHW’s members at Kaiser. All of the tax revenues -- approximately $26 billion per year – would have helped fund a new training academy controlled by Regan, which his internal critics called a “slush fund.”

In response to workers’ criticism of the new “partnership tax,” Regan pulled a “switcheroo” on SEIU-UHW’s members, according to internal critics.

In the final version of the tentative agreement, Regan removed the partnership tax and allegedly replaced it with a stealth funding mechanism that nonetheless requires SEIU-UHW members to foot the bill. According to critics, Regan agreed to have SEIU-UHW members forgo 2% in wage increases offered by Kaiser so those funds could instead be steered into Regan’s training fund. Tasty doesn’t have access to sufficient information to independently corroborate these allegations.

See more details in the leaflet below, which comes from John Duff, a retired Kaiser worker who formerly served on SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board.



Friday, September 27, 2019

Coalition of Kaiser Unions Reaches TA as Controversy Brews over Dave Regan’s New “Partnership Tax”



On Wednesday, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions announced it reached a tentative agreement for a new contract with Kaiser. Details on the deal are still sketchy at this point.

Meanwhile, anger is brewing among SEIU-UHW members over Dave Regan’s effort to jam a 25-cent-per-hour tax down workers’ throats. 

Why? 

According to SEIU-UHW members, Regan is trying to fold the tax into the contract ratification vote rather than letting workers vote on the tax as a separate item. See this earlier post for more details. 

During a recent negotiating session with Kaiser, Regan reportedly attacked a member of SEIU-UHW’s Bargaining Committee, according to a retired Kaiser worker who formerly served on SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board. In a leaflet circulated among SEIU-UHW members, John Duff writes:
“At the last bargaining session, Dave Regan ended up screaming at Vallejo member, and long-time leader, Ollie Allen. What was Ollie’s crime? He had the nerve to ask for a separate vote on the 25 cent tax.”

Regan reportedly opposes a separate vote on the tax because he knows that workers would vote it down. The tax would cost each full-time SEIU-UHW member an estimated $1,020 per year.

Duff’s leaflet -- along with three others (see below) -- were circulated among Kaiser workers before SEIU-UHW reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser earlier this week. 

The leaflets refer to Regan as “Takeaway Dave Regan” and “the Donald Trump of union leaders” -- apparently due to Regan’s reported bullying of union members for requesting a separate vote on the tax. Duff says the tax will generate millions of dollars a year that will be steered into a “slush fund” controlled by Regan.

Here are the leaflets:





Friday, September 13, 2019

Dave Regan Is Pushing a New “Partnership Tax” on SEIU-UHW’s Members at Kaiser



SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan is facing criticism from rank-and-file members at Kaiser for pushing a new “partnership tax” on SEIU-UHW members at Kaiser. Regan is trying to slip the new tax into a contract he’s negotiating with Kaiser.

How much is the tax?

Beaucoup bucks. 

Each SEIU-UHW member would be taxed 25 cents for every hour worked, according to a description issued by SEIU-UHW (see below). 

For a full-time worker (2,080 hours a year), that translates into $520 per year. Together,  SEIU-UHW's members at Kaiser would pay an estimated $26 million per year in taxes.

In response, SEIU-UHW members at Kaiser are circulating this leaflet:


Of course, the new proposed tax would come on top of SEIU-UHW’s current “partnership tax,” which is approximately 9 cents per hour worked. (SEIU-UHW and Kaiser officials reportedly boosted the tax during their last contract negotiations.) 

Some SEIU-UHW members are asking: 
Why are we even paying the current tax to fund our 'partnership' with Kaiser even though Kaiser is forcing us to go out on strike? 

Not a bad question. 

See below for SEIU-UHW’s effort to win support for its proposed new partnership tax.

In Tasty's humble opinion, SEIU-UHW’s arguments don’t make much sense. 

For example, SEIU-UHW says that by expanding California’s workforce of trained health care workers by 10,000 workers per year, it will improve current union members’ power to win better wages, benefits and retirement.

But that doesn’t follow the logic of supply and demand in labor markets, right?

For example, if there’s a shortage of Respiratory Therapists or Rad Techs in California, those workers have greater power to command higher wages. In fact, hospitals often negotiate mid-contract wage increases designed to prevent these high-in-demand workers from leaving to take jobs elsewhere.

How will expanding the supply of trained workers by 10,000 per year improve the power of SEIU-UHW members at the bargaining table?

And here's another question that deserves attention: Who pays and who benefits?

Kaiser stands to benefit from having a steady supply of newly trained workers.

But under Regan's proposal, Kaiser would only pay half the costs, with SEIU-UHW's members picking up the other half. Why not let Kaiser pay the full cost of training its own workforce? 

Plus, Kaiser pocketed $5.2 billion in profits during the first six months of this year. Kaiser should pay, not workers.

Interestingly, as far as the tax proposal, there's one person who wouldn't pay any taxes under the proposal: Dave Regan.

Sounds like someone is selling snake oil.




Friday, September 6, 2019

SEIU Local 73 Must Re-Run Officer Election after Feds Find Fault



Next month, SEIU Local 73 will re-run last year’s internal officer election after a federal investigation found that SEIU-backed candidates improperly used union resources during the campaigning. The “re-run” election will be conducted under government supervision.

SEIU Local 73, which represents approximately 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and northwestern Indiana, entered into a “voluntary compliance agreement” with the feds to re-run the election, according to the federal Office of Labor Management Standards:
OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 (located in Chicago, Ill.), concerning its October 23, 2018 election of officers.  The union agreed to conduct new nominations, a new election, and installation for the offices of president, secretary-treasurer, two executive board vice presidents, five vice presidents, and [8] executive board members under OLMS supervision on or before November 22, 2019.  The investigation disclosed that union resources were used when a candidate obtained the union’s membership list and used it to purchase members’ phone numbers to campaign via phone bank.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Chicago District Office.

The announcement was cheered by the “Members leading Members” slate, whose complaint prompted the government investigation.

Last year’s election came after a two-year trusteeship imposed by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry as well as a 2017 court battle launched by Local 73 members to bring an end to the trusteeship. SEIU’s trusteeship featured a cast of well-known characters, including Eliseo Medina.

SEIU’s trustee, Dian Palmer, won last year’s election for president of Local 73 by just 375 votes. The “Members leading Members” slate, which campaigned on returning control of the union to its members, won eight of 30 seats on the union’s Executive Board.

Since the election, SEIU leaders have faced a variety of criticisms over salary increases for top officials, changes to the union’s constitution that eliminated four annual membership meetings, and the arrest of the local’s former president, Christine Boardman, for allegedly “trespassing” when she attended a membership meeting and handed out a leaflet. Boardman said she had a right to attend the meeting since she’s a retiree.

Next month’s elections will be conducted by mail.

Friday, August 23, 2019

SEIU-UHW Staffer: ‘Whistleblower Was Correct about Dave Regan’



Remember when SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan sued one of his union’s organizers after she spoke to a publication about Regan’s alleged sexual misconduct, drinking on the job, backroom deals with employers, illegal electioneering and other misconduct?

Regan fired the 42-year-old woman organizer, and then sued her for allegedly defaming his character.

Will check this out.

Her attorneys submitted a sworn declaration from another SEIU-UHW staffer, who backs up everything she said to the media. A copy is below.

As Tasty earlier reported, the organizer did not backed down about the truthfulness of what she told the press. And she filed a motion in court to knock out Regan’s lawsuit and require him to pay for any court and legal costs she’s been forced to fund.

Here’s the affidavit:




Thursday, August 8, 2019

Union Leader to SEIU’s Any Stern: “Good riddance and thanks for the clarity”


Sara Nelson, AFA's President

How is the US labor movement reacting to news that SEIU’s President Emeritus Andy Stern has joined a billionaire-funded group that’s dedicated to battling teachers unions?

Here’s what Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants and a former Flight Attendant at United Airlines, told Splinter:
“It’s always good when people can finally be themselves. The labor movement doesn’t need climbers or people who think they are owed something. We need serious leaders. Good riddance and thanks for the clarity. The rest of us have serious work to do right here with the people who do the real work that makes this country, this world, run. We know which side we’re on.”

SEIU’s reaction?

They were initially silent. But in response to a journalist’s inquiry, SEIU spokesperson Dan O’Sullivan issued a written statement that included this excerpt:
We are all indebted to Andy for his leadership as SEIU president. We respect Andy’s desire to contribute to improving working people’s lives now that he is no longer SEIU president. We won’t always agree with Andy, and his views are his own—he does not speak on behalf of SEIU’s members.”

Hmm. Why are SEIU officials allowing Stern to use his official title of "SEIU President Emeritus" in the WalMart family-funded organization's public materials?

Stern’s reaction

First, he took a page out of Trump’s playbook by tweeting something that was totally contradicted by the facts, according to journalist Hamilton Nolan at Splinter. He then asked Nolan for more time to reply to his questions about why he joined the billionaire-funded pro-charter school group. Nolan added this note:
I don’t believe there is any reason the questions can’t be answered now. I will publish Stern’s further comments if and when I receive them.

Hamilton Nolan, “The Union World Is Not Happy With Andy Stern,” Splinter, August 1, 2019.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Another Former SEIU Official Is on Uber’s Payroll


LaPhonza Butler and Mary Kay Henry

It turns out that SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern isn’t the only SEIU official on the payroll of gig companies.

Laphonza Butler, the former President of SEIU Local 2015 and the SEIU California State Council, is advising and representing Uber in secret talks with SEIU, according to an article in Bloomberg. (Josh Eidelson, “Teamsters Union Splits From Uber and Lyft on California Worker Rights Law,” Bloomberg, July 25, 2019).

Butler, a close ally of SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, also served until on the SEIU International Executive Board. Last December, she resigned her position at Local 2015 to take a job as a consultant and partner at SCRB Strategies, a California-based business and political consulting firm.

During the secret talks, covered in this earlier post, SEIU discussed plans to support Uber’s request for an exemption from a groundbreaking new California bill (Assembly Bill 5) that would force Uber to hire drivers as employees rather than exploit them as independent contractors.

On the good news front, Bloomberg reports that leaders of the Teamsters union in California are now saying they oppose exemptions for gig companies following a public backlash.

According to Eidelson:

If the [gig] industry can’t win over the Teamsters, firms could still hope to find compromise with other prominent unions that companies have met with, which include the Service Employees International Union and the United Food & Commercial Workers.
One asset for Uber is Laphonza Butler. She was president of one of the SEIU’s largest local unions until last year and is now a partner at SCRB Strategies, a California-based business and political consulting firm. There, Butler has advised and represented Uber in its dealings with organized labor on employment issues and also serves as an adviser to the presidential campaign of Kamala Harris, the Democratic senator from California. An Uber spokesman said Butler brings a valuable perspective to the company’s efforts to improve work for drivers, and a spokesman for Harris declined to comment. Butler and her firm didn’t respond to requests for comment
More recently, SEIU California circulated a summary of potential alternative legislation. The proposal would provide “flexibility to platform companies and platform workers,” according to the memo. It would create systems for collective bargaining, “portable benefits” accounts and minimum pay guarantees but would allow companies that meet certain criteria to seek “flexible alternative standards” in place of those covering other employers in areas such as overtime, breaks and worker’s compensation.

Such an approach alarms some drivers. Cutting a deal that deprives app-based workers of full employee rights “will absolutely damage the future for workers,” said Nicole Moore, a Lyft driver and organizer with the advocacy group Rideshare Drivers United in Los Angeles. She said any kind of special arrangement would reverberate far beyond ride-hailing and food delivery. “Workers can be deployed from apps in any industry,” Moore said.
In public, union leaders have taken a hard line. Mary Kay Henry, international president of the SEIU, said in February that the union intends to “reach an agreement that’s not a concession.” Henry discussed the issue in a recent meeting with Newsom’s chief of staff.
Bob Schoonover, president of the SEIU’s California State Council, said Thursday that the group “has not and would not support any third classification or interpretation of employee classification that would undermine employee status and protections” granted by last year’s court ruling and the proposed law. SEIU intends to help workers “maintain and expand upon” those protections instead, he said in an emailed statement. Schoonover described the memos exploring potential compromises on employment rights as “ideas and concepts” that “should not be construed” as something more significant.

What kind of deal is SEIU discussing with Uber?

It goes something like this:  In exchange for SEIU backing the gig companies’ exemption from the California bill, the gig companies would designate SEIU as their official “association” representing independent-contractor workers, according to articles in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and other publications.

This would allow SEIU to collect dues money. But it would deprive the workers of the right to strike. And… it would deny gig workers basic legal protections that come with regular employment status: minimum wage, sick leave, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, workers’ compensation, parental leave, family leave, and contributions to Social Security and Medicare.

If Andy Stern and LaPhonza Butler are on gig companies’ payroll, are there others?

Most likely.  Tasty wouldn’t be surprised if David Rolf is pocketing gig company cash.