Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Back in Court: California Hospital Association Sues SEIU-UHW for Millions Locked up in Covert Partnership Organization


The California Hospital Association (CHA) has taken SEIU-UHW to court… again.

This time, CHA is trying to recover tens of millions of dollars that SEIU-UHW has locked away inside a secret “partnership” organization, according to records obtained from Sacramento County Superior Court. (Below is a full copy.)

On October 14, CHA’s and SEIU-UHW’s attorneys will face off in a Sacramento courthouse.

Here’s what’s happening.

When SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan and CHA’s Duane Dauner signed their secret partnership deal in 2014, they also agreed to set up and finance a secret new organization to carry out their joint projects.

The new organization’s first priority was to help SEIU-UHW convince politicians to steer $6 billion a year in new Medicaid funds to California’s giant hospital corporations.
 
Dave Regan and Duane Dauner

If SEIU-UHW had succeeded in this task (they didn’t), then the hospital CEOs would have allowed SEIU-UHW to unionize 30,000 of their employees… but only as long as the workers were banned from striking, forced into cheap labor contracts, and silenced by a massive gag clause.

The covert partnership organization -- ironically named “Caring for Californians” by its founders -- was funded with $50 million that Regan and Dauner diverted from their treasuries in 2014.

With millions in its bank count, “Caring for Californians” leased office space in Sacramento, hired Peter Ragone as its Executive Director, hired attorneys and staff, etc. The organization was soon spending $40,000 a month in operating expenses, according to court filings by the CHA.

For a time, things were going swimmingly for Wall Street Dave. Fantasies of his class-collaborationist partnership danced through his head as he performed late-night lap dances for some of California’s wealthiest corporate CEOs.
Peter Ragone, CFC's Executive Director

By November of 2015, however, Dave’s partnership had exploded in a fiery display that lit up California’s skies. The partnership was dead!  

At the time of the partnership’s demise, “Caring for Californians” still had $34 million in unspent cash sitting in its bank account.

And that’s what the latest lawsuit is all about. The $34 million.

Under the terms of Regan and Dauner’s secret partnership deal, the $34 was supposed to be returned to CHA and SEIU-UHW on January 1, 2016. However, Regan -- in an apparent fit of vindictiveness against his former pin-striped pals -- is refusing to return the money to either organization.

According to CHA’s lawsuit, Regan has vetoed any return of the money to both CHA and SEIU-UHW.

How?

“Caring for Californians” is run by an eight-person Board of Directors, with equal numbers of seats filled by CHA and SEIU-UHW. Regan and Dauner are co-chairs of the board. Since January of 2016, says CHA, Regan has used his four votes (one of them is SEIU-UHW staffer Arianna Jimenez) to block every proposal to return the $34 million.

So what’s happening to the money?

It’s simply swirling down the drain, says CHA. 

Here’s an excerpt from a recent CHA legal filing, which refers to “Caring for Californians” by its initials “CFC.” The term "Code of Conduct" refers to the secret partnership deal signed in 2014.
“On December 31, 2015, the Code of Conduct terminated pursuant to its terms. Since that time, CFC has had no ongoing work, and neither CHA, UHW, nor any CFC Director has made any efforts to initiate new endeavors. Nonetheless, CFC has continued to spend approximately $40,000 each month on operating expenses for resources and services it has not been using. These are not only unnecessary expenditures, but they also decrease the amount available for redistribution to both CHA and UHW as provided by the Code of Conduct.” (p. 3)

Interesting, right?
 
SEIU-UHW's Arianna Jimenez
Regan is so vindictive he’s willing to piss millions of dollars of SEIU-UHW members’ money down the drain to get back at CHA.

How much money do SEIU-UHW members stand to lose? According to the CHA:
“As of September 1, 2016, the CFC has approximately $34 million in its accounts that is not currently encumbered. Pursuant to the terms of the Code of Conduct, approximately $27.2 million would be returned to CHA and approximately $6.8 million would be returned to UHW.” (p. 4)

What’s CHA asking the judge to do?

CHA’s lawsuit asks the judge to force SEIU-UHW into binding arbitration so it can recover its $27.2 million. Plus, it wants SEIU-UHW to pay all of CHA’s attorneys fees.

If history is a judge, it looks like SEIU-UHW’s members will be footing the bill for yet another idiotic blunder by Regan.


Here’s a copy of CHA’s suit filed on September 6, 2016:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

UNITE HERE Leaders: SEIU Is Undermining the U.S. Labor Movement


Andy Stern: Pimping for the plutocrats
Two leaders at UNITE HERE have penned a sharp critique of SEIU.

The piece, entitled “Labor’s Neoliberal Caucus” in Jacobin Magazine, criticizes SEIU for pushing a boss-friendly, “neoliberal” style of unionism that’s undermining the US labor movement.

The authors -- Warren Heyman (an international vice president of UNITE HERE) and Andrew Tillett-Saks (the organizing director for UNITE HERE Local 217) -- define “neoliberal unionism” as “a unionism that espouses collaboration with corporations instead of conflict and upholds free-market capitalism as reconcilable with labor’s interests.”

According to the article, the “modern wave” of this boss-friendly unionism “is rooted in SEIU and its former president Andy Stern’s push for neoliberal unionism in the 2000s.”

Stern, who made backroom deals with CEOs as SEIU’s president and also tried to stamp out internal critics through trusteeships, has continued walking down the same ideological path since his retirement.

Only days after retiring, Stern accepted tens of thousands of shares of stock and a fully paid job from Ron Perelman, a billionaire corporate raider who’s one of the world’s richest men. Perelman has showered Stern with gifts in apparent exchange for sweetheart labor deals that Stern negotiated from SEIU's Purple Palace in Washington DC, including a deal with one of Perelman's many companies, AlliedBarton.

Here’s an excerpt from Heyman’s and Tillett-Saks’ article regarding Stern’s role in pushing neoliberal unionism:
Stern explicitly and aggressively pushed the labor movement to adopt a “collaborationist” approach towards capital; according to the Stern ideology, workers and unions don’t have to fight corporations, just build “relationships” with them and cajole them into a mutually beneficial partnership.
In this spirit, Stern and SEIU amassed a lengthy record of striking deals with corporations that sold out workers’ ability to fight in exchange for promises of union recognition… SEIU expanded, but what expanded was a neutered shell of a labor movement, full of members with preposterous contracts and little ability to fight for better.
Stern is gone but his ideological legacy remains… From embracing free-market capitalism to embracing employers to embracing their political representatives, the political and intellectual lineage is clear.

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan is clearly one of Stern’s disciples.

Regan famously inked a secret deal with the California Hospital Association that banned strikes, forced workers into pre-negotiated contracts with stripped-down wages and benefits, and imposed a gag clause that blocked SEIU members from criticizing their employers or mentioning their CEOs’ sky-high salaries.

On Labor Day of 2014, Regan famously told NBC-LA TV News that the idea of strikes and “adversarial relationships” between workers and corporations is “outdated.” Instead, says Regan, unions must “collaborate” with corporate CEOs to create a new “teamwork” economy.

Below, see a two-minute excerpt from Regan’s NBC TV interview in which he describes his vision of SEIU's idea of "21st century" unionism.

Heyman and Tillett-Saks conclude their article by issuing a call to arms to US workers and unions, who they say must confront and battle SEIU inside the US labor movement.
The proliferation of this model of unionism would spell disaster for the American labor movement. Our movement’s success depends on how widely and how militantly we can organize workers to fight corporate power and the 1 percent, not embrace them.
Union members and leaders must do everything in their power to halt the march of neoliberal unionism, before they march the labor movement straight into its grave. 

What does "neoliberal unionism" look like? Check out this 2-minute excerpt from Regan’s interview with NBC TV News on Labor Day, 2014:



Friday, September 9, 2016

Dignity Healthcare Workers Bolt SEIU-UHW, Leaving Stan Lyles to Swallow His Words


Stan "Mr. Integrity" Lyles
Some workers at Dignity Healthcare report that not all employees were affected by SEIU-UHW’s recent bargaining during which management demanded more cuts to workers' wages and benefits.

In 2015, a unit of workers at Dignity's Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles left SEIU-UHW after requesting an NLRB election to dump the union. The workers include clinical lab scientists, social workers (MSWs and LCSWs), radiation therapists, and nuclear medicine technologists.

According to NLRB records, the workers filed a formal “decertification” petition with NLRB Region 31 in Los Angeles. After SEIU-UHW officials realized they’d get trounced in an election, they decided to threw in the towel and let the workers go without an election -- what’s called “disclaiming interest in the unit,” in NLRB parlance.

Why did the Dignity workers bolt from SEIU-UHW?

They say SEIU-UHW never did anything for them... and wouldn’t even return workers' phone calls.

The workers’ action is especially embarrassing for SEIU-UHW Vice President Stan Lyles, who formerly worked at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. Lyes tells everyone he’s got “rockstar” status with his former co-workers at Northridge.

Not quite, Stan.

But... if you really want to see a rockstar performance by Stan, check out the following  video of Stan attacking SEIU for its undemocratic practices in 2008.

Lyles, speaking at a meeting of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), attacks SEIU officials for making back-room deals with CEOs -- including a secret deal with Tenet Healthcare to allow the company to subcontract the jobs of more than 10% of SEIU-UHW's members.

That's one of the dirty moves that prompted SEIU-UHW members to publicly criticize Andy Stern and SEIU in 2007 and 2008, which then caused Stern to remove SEIU-UHW's elected leaders through a trusteeship in 2009.

After imposing the trusteeship, SEIU officials gave Lyles a big purple paycheck to abandon his principles and pledge his allegiance to Andy SternDave Regan, and the other Purple Palace officials whom he had so sharply criticized.

Lyles, who had aggressively opposed the trusteeship, quickly changed his tune. Ain’t it interesting what a boatload of cash will due to the moral compass of some people?

Perhaps that’s why Lyles has earned the nickname of “Mr. Integrity.”

Here’s the video of Lyles attacking SEIU in 2008, before he received his big payoff from Andy Stern:


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan Pushes More Purple Lies on Dignity Healthcare Workers


Dave Regan: "I love the Boss and the Boss loves me"
Dignity Healthcare workers’ "bullshit meters" are jumping off the charts in the wake of SEIU-UHW officials’ recent announcement that they “won” a great new labor contract at Dignity.

Here’s what’s happening:

Dignity Healthcare employs approximately 14,000 SEIU-UHW members across California. It’s the union’s second-largest employer after Kaiser Permanente.

Soon after SEIU’s trusteeship in 2009, trustee Dave Regan began negotiating massive benefit cuts and pay freezes for Dignity workers.

In 2010, Regan and his lieutenant Hal Ruddick famously eliminated workers’ defined-benefit pension plan and then lied to workers about the cuts. The truth was later revealed when Dignity's quarterly financial statement detailed how the company pocketed a $217 million windfall due to SEIU-UHW’s cuts.

In 2012, Regan allowed Dignity to freeze SEIU-UHW members’ wages and implement more benefit cuts... even though the company was making massive profits.

Last year, SEIU-UHW officials accepted even more cuts -- this time to Dignity workers’ health benefits.

Then, at the beginning of 2016, SEIU-UHW returned to the bargaining table to negotiate pay increases for its members. Instead, Dignity demanded even more cuts from Regan!

“Why not?,” Dignity execs undoubtedly said to themselves. "Regan is the gift that keeps on giving."

This year’s negotiations, which were supposed to conclude by April, dragged on as Dignity execs demanded a growing list of concessions.

Here’s how SEIU-UHW recently described Dignity's proposed cuts to the press:
  • Wage freeze;
  • “Slashing” workers’ already-reduced retirement benefits by “up to 25%;”
  • Subcontracting SEIU-UHW members’ jobs

And here’s what one SEIU-UHW member at Dignity told the Long Beach Signal Tribune and the Long Beach Press-Telegraph earlier this month:
According to a media release from the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), Dignity Health has proposed to reduce retirement benefits up to 25 percent and desires to outsource jobs to companies that offer low wages…
[SEIU-UHW member] Jay Villarreal himself said that he was one of the protestors stationed outside the hospital with a bullhorn. The 53-year-old from the Long Beach area has already personally felt the sting of a wage freeze. Villarreal said he has not had a raise in four years.
“And the way the contract is being stated by Dignity Health, I won’t see one for an additional three years…enough is enough really,” Villarreal concluded with a snicker. “Seven years!”

So what did SEIU-UHW do in the face of Dignity’s demands?  Strike?

Nope.
 
Hal Ruddick
Since Regan parachuted into California in 2009, SEIU-UHW has conducted virtually zero strikes.

Why?

In September of 2014, Regan famously told NBC news that strikes are “outdated.” Instead, he prefers a bold new strategy of “collaboration” with the Boss for “win-win” solutions. That’s the approach that Regan calls “21st Century unionism.”

Hmmm. 

Ya gotta wonder what Dignity workers feel about the last seven years of Regan’s “collaboration” with their multi-millionaire boss. Doesn't sound too "win-win" for workers, right? 

Two weeks ago, SEIU-UHW officials suddenly announced they’d finally “won” a wonderful new contract for Dignity workers without any strikes or fight. Here's how they announced it on SEIU-UHW's website:

August 16, 2016
Next, SEIU-UHW officials announced they refuse to provide a copy of their wonderful tentative agreement to Dignity workers in advance of workers’ ratification vote. SEIU-UHW will only provide a single copy inside the voting room on the day of the voting.

Must be a wonderful agreement, right?

SEIU-UHW’s triumphant pronouncement of “We won!” is like déjà vu all over again for Dignity workers.


Back in 2010, here’s what SEIU-UHW officials told the membership after they agreed to eliminate workers’ defined-benefit pension plan:

2010


Friday, August 26, 2016

SEIU's Trusteeship of Local 73 in Chicago: "I view it as a hostile takeover.”


Trustee Eliseo Medina addresses Local 73 members
Here’s the latest on SEIU International’s trusteeship of SEIU Local 73, which represents 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and Northwestern Indiana.

Soon after the trusteeship was imposed earlier this month, Matthew Brandon -- who was removed from his position as Local 73’s Secretary-Treasurer -- accused SEIU officials of conducting a “hostile takeover” of Local 73. 

Brandon “threatened to file a federal discrimination lawsuit to reverse the international’s installation of emergency trustees,” according to an article in the Chicago Sun Times.

Brandon told the newspaper: “I don’t view this as a trusteeship. I view it as a hostile takeover.”

SEIU officials say they were forced to impose the trusteeship because of a dysfunctional relationship between Brandon and Local 73’s president, Christine Boardman.

However, Brandon told the Sun Times that a top SEIU official was the person who actually sparked the tensions between himself and Boardman by asking him to carry out a secret “stealth” campaign against Boardman.

In June of 2014, Brandon says a Vice President at SEIU International asked him to deal with a personal issue that was affecting Boardman’s job performance, according to the Sun Times. Here’s an excerpt from the Sun Times article:
“I proceeded in that process as stealthily as I could until Christine eventually found about it. That’s when our relationship was destroyed. She saw me as someone attacking her instead of trying to help her,” he said.
Then, Brandon added, the international “backed away from me and accused me of everything that was wrong in the local. These people don’t know what can of worms they’ve opened here. The members are absolutely furious.”
Brandon, who is black, charged that SEIU “discriminates against African-American males” and that he would “be able to prove that.”
Eliseo Medina, who was installed as the trustee of Local 73, issued an emailed statement that offered no direct response to Brandon’s explosive charges…
“As late as Monday, I sent an email to the international general counsel Judy Scott. I told her I was returning to work from an illegal suspension Christine [Boardman] imposed on July 5. Scott said I was insubordinate and not following her directions. Then, she started issues about what was happening the union,” said Brandon.

Nice quote from Judy Scott, right?  "Follow my orders, muthafuka!"

So who’s the SEIU International Vice President whom Brandon refers to? 

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t “name names.”

Any tipsters out there who can help?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Video of Protest against SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry at “Fight for $15” Convention


Here’s a one-minute video that captures the moment at last weekend’s national “Fight for $15” convention when organizers attempted to deliver a letter to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry to protest her refusal to allow them to join SEIU’s staff union.

The footage, recorded by C-SPAN, begins with Henry speaking from the stage at the Greater Richmond Convention Center… and then shows reportedly 100 “Fight for $15” organizers and supporters trying to make their way to the stage.

At first, Henry attempts to ignore the organizers and continues with her speech. The organizers, carrying signs that say “$15 Minimum Wage and Union Rights for All Means FF15 Organizers Too!,” are blocked on their way to the stage, a sign is ripped from their hands, and parts of the crowd chant “Fight for $15” in an effort to suppress the protesters.

According to a news article, security guards subsequently removed the "Fight for $15" organizers from the convention.

Since April, Henry has refused the organizers’ request to allow them to join a staff union, the “Union of Union Representatives” (UUR), which already represents SEIU’s organizers across the nation.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry to Fight for $15 Staff: “No union for you!”


Remember those 100 “Fight for $15” organizers who requested to join the “Union of Union Representatives” (UUR), a staff union that already represents SEIU’s organizers across the nation?

Four months ago, they formally submitted their request to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

Since then, Henry has rejected their request despite announcing in May that SEIU will spend millions on a new “Fight for $15 Organizing Campaign Center.”

That set the scene for last weekend’s action in Richmond, Virginia, where nearly 100 “Fight for $15” organizers and supporters confronted SEIU President Mary Kay Henry during her speech to SEIU’s first national “Fight for $15” convention.

As Henry spoke to the crowd, the Fight for $15 organizers and their supporters began walking towards the stage to present her with a letter, according to an article published in in Raw Story:
[Jodi Lynn] Fennell [an organizer with the Child Care Fight for $15 campaign in Las Vegas] says, “Nearly 100 organizers and supporters gathered, moving up toward the stage peacefully. Our plan was simply to deliver a letter to Mary Kay Henry because she doesn’t make herself available to speak with us.”
…But they never got to hand the letter to Henry. Inside sources at SEIU say the union was prepared for such an incident, and sprang into action. Fennell says, “Security prevented us from getting to the stage.” Meanwhile, on the speakers’ platform, Henry stepped back and a group of African-Americans and Latino/as who sit on the national organizing committee for Fight for $15 stepped up.
One woman on stage with Henry grabbed the mic. She berated the staff organizers and their supporters below as cameras broadcast the convention…
As Henry stood smiling faintly behind the human wall, the speaker continued…
Barajas-Ames says the UUR organizers stood before Henry for 15 minutes. As the
Mary Kay Henry speaking at the Fight for $15 convention
speakers on stage led the crowd in chants of “$15 and a union,” Barajas-Ames says, “The security guards became hostile and aggressive, physically pushing us back. We stepped back and stood peacefully. Our signs were grabbed and torn up.”
…But that was just the beginning of the troubles for the members of the UUR organizing committee. Shortly afterward, Barajas-Ames and Fennell were personally called by the national director of the Child Care Fight for $15. The two organizers were told they would not be attending the events and protests on Saturday they had been organizing toward for months. Instead, they were to pack their bags as they were being flown out at 6 a.m. back to Las Vegas. Fennell claims the national director also told them, “We will be expecting you to pay for the cost of the hotel.”
… A total of five Fight for $15 organizers who support UUR were shipped home for trying to bring attention to their cause.
Fennell says, “This represents the exact same type of retaliation that corporations do to low-wage workers.”

So how does Mary Kay Henry justify her refusal to allow the organizers to unionize?

According to an article authored by David Moberg in In These Times:
At first, Calderon says, SEIU maintained their employer was the payroll processing firm that handles their paychecks. Now, he says, the international insists they’re employed by the individual organizing committees that direct each city’s Fight for $15 campaign.
According to Calderon, nearly 99 percent of funding for Fight for $15 organizers, as well as vehicles and supplies, comes from SEIU.

Raw Story reports that “Fight for $15” organizers in Las Vegas are paid by an SEIU subcontractor called the “Ardleigh Group.” It describes the company this way:
One former employee calls it a “faceless, shadowy” corporation that acts as a pass-through to hide employer responsibility. SEIU documents appear to show it using paper outfits to funnel money to the Ardleigh Group, which then pays workers on SEIU projects who say they are being denied their legal union rights.

"Fight for $15" organizers
The Ardleigh Group describes itself as a “political consulting and classic door-to-door campaigning” firm that’s been hired by a variety of candidates and organizations across the nation. Its name appears in SEIU's online job announcements for “Fight for $15” organizer positions.

Interestingly, some of these job announcements were posted by SEIU’s Recruitment Director Pamela Kieffer, the wife of SEIU-UHW’s Dave Kieffer.

Headquartered in Washington DC, the Ardleigh Group is headed by Bernard “Blair” Talmadge and Bryan L. Stewart

Talmadge, who grew up in Philadelphia, was an unsuccessful candidate for the Philadelphia City Commissioners in 2011. From 1997-2000, he served as a “Deputy Commissioner” to his brother, City Commissioner Alex Talmadge, Jr. 

According to Blair Talmadge, he has managed campaigns for multiple candidates for state and federal offices.


FYI, The London Guardian also covered last weekend’s action in Richmond (“Fight for $15 organizers demand employee status from SEIU,” August 12, 2016).