Friday, March 15, 2019

Staffer: SEIU-UHW and Dave Regan to Face Lawsuit over Harassment and Retaliation

Here’s the latest on the SEIU-UHW staffer who, during an interview published on March 2, 2019, made explosive allegations that SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan has had sexual relations with SEIU-UHW members and staffers, is often drunk on the job, and carries out campaigns of retaliation against staffers and members who raise criticisms.

On March 6, SEIU-UHW fired the staffer, Njoki Woods, “less than 24 hours after [she] was interrogated by SEIU Chief of Staff Greg Pullman about her interview with Payday Report,” according to a new article in PayDay Report

The article continues:
Woods says that she intends to sue over her firing. She says that she has plenty of witnesses that can back her story of retaliation.
Since the publication of her interview with Payday Report, she says additional people have come forward to her with stories of abuse within SEIU-UHW. Woods says that she intends to help organize folks to fight back against what she says as a toxic culture within the union.
“I am doing exactly what they trained me to do, I am standing up for myself,” says Woods.
For years, Woods says that she has suffered health problems, nausea, and anxiety attacks as a result of the abuse she says that she suffered within SEIU, but this morning when she woke up expecting to be fired, the symptons all of a sudden disappered.
“I feel good. I feel like I have broken away from this abusive household and I don’t have to keep abuse hidden and that feels really good” says Woods.  “I thought that I would be afraid. I thought I would be nervous and I don’t feel like that. I feel like I have freed from myself from an abusive father or an abusive husband.”

Readers’ comments posted alongside the article expressed support for Woods, a 42-year-old woman who began working as an organizer for SEIU-UHW in 2015. One comment reads as follows:
I personally worked alongside Njoki, she is a great organizer and a sweet person. The internal staff motto of UHW is “UHW is where great organizers go to die” – and they sure live up to it. Glad I got away. Stay strong Njoki!!!!!!

Another states:
As a former employee of the organization I think it’s far past time to file a class action suit sexual discrimination sexism racial discrimination racially disparaging remarks as a former organizer with in the organization I can attest and be would be more than willing to I’ve worked at UHW for over 10 years

If Woods files a lawsuit, it will be the second one featuring allegations that connect Regan to sexual misconduct and retaliation against whistleblowers.

Will Mary Kay Henry do the right thing by taking action against Regan, who also serves on SEIU’s International Executive Board?

One would hope so.

After the #MeToo movement emboldened SEIU staffers to step forward with their own stories about sexual harassment and misconduct inside the purple union, Henry was forced to remove a number of staffers following investigations.

In late 2017, Henry announced the formation of an external advisory group that was supposed to determine what practices SEIU can enact in order to stop sexual abuse within the union. She recruited high-profile women to make up the advisory group, including Cecilia Muñoz, former White House Domestic Policy Council director; Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center; and employment attorney Debra Katz, founding partner of law firm Katz Marshall & Banks.

At the time, an SEIU spokesperson announced:
“SEIU is deeply committed at every level of our union to ensuring that our workplace environment reflects our values, and that all staff is respected, their contributions are valued and their voices are heard.”

Meanwhile, SEIU has rightfully criticized big businesses for turning a blind eye to sexual harassment inside the workplace. For example, SEIU is working with fast-food workers to confront sexual harassment. SEIU worked with women fast-food workers who recently stood up in silent protest during a presentation by McDonalds chief communicator at an event sponsored by Politico. Meanwhile, women janitors in commercial office buildings have staged protests against sexual harassment and assaults they suffer on the job.

Will Mary Kay Henry “walk the talk” by launching an investigation into the allegations about Regan?

Or will Henry and her panel of experts turn a blind eye to allegations against one of SEIU’s own board members?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Workers at Purple Palace Vote to Strike

Check this out. Earlier today, Dave Jamieson, a reporter from the Huffington Post, reported the following on his Twitter feed:
Wow. Workers at @SEIU headquarters have authorized a strike against the union. They say SEIU is outsourcing union work to non-union contractors (!). The workers are represented by @OPEIU
A couple of hours later, Jamieson reported this:
More on this: Shop steward David Hoskins tells me SEIU wants to impose a two-tier system in which new hires would be easier to lay off. Union also wants to retain ability to contract out work. Employees voted down SEIU's contract offer 87% to 13. 92% voted to authorize strike
This afternoon, he published an article on Huffington Post. Here's a link:  Dave Jamieson, "Union Employees Authorize A Strike Against Their Own Union," Huffington Post, March 12, 2019.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

SEIU-UHW Staffer: ‘Dave Regan Slept with Union Staffers and Members, Bullies Critics’

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

Payday Report yesterday published explosive allegations that SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan has had sexual relations with SEIU-UHW members and staffers, is often drunk on the job, and carries out campaigns of retaliation against staffers and members who raise criticisms. (Mike Elk, “EXCLUSIVE: SEIU VP Dave Regan Accused of Sexual Misconduct & Retaliating Against Whistleblowers,” Payday Report, March 1, 2019)   

She also says SEIU-UHW officials make backroom deals with management and sometimes instruct Union Representatives, who are supposed to defend the rights of workers on the job, instead to work in the interests of companies and bosses. 

For example, she alleges that SEIU-UHW officials pressured her to be soft on employers. If SEIU-UHW officials consider a rank-and-file worker to be too militant or if the worker criticized SEIU-UHW’s leadership, then SEIU-UHW leaders work secretly with the worker’s boss to have the worker fired, she says.

The allegations in the Payday Report article are made by Njoki Woods, a 42-year-old woman who joined SEIU-UHW’s staff in 2015 after having been a rank-and-file member of SEIU-UHW for a decade. Woods formerly was a Certified Nursing Assistant and Unit Secretary at Riverside Community Hospital. According to the article, she remains on the union’s staff today.

In other direct quotes in the article, Woods describes a toxic, corrupt, and “cultish” culture inside SEIU-UHW. Conformity is valued by SEIU-UHW officials and those who report abuse or who express criticism are targeted with retaliation and bullying, she says. In addition, she describes a culture of sexual favors where people have sex with union officials in order to get ahead.

Woods’ allegations mirror those of other members and staffers. For example, Regan is a named in a lawsuit in Alameda County (Calif.) in which a former SEIU-UHW staffer, Mindy Sturge, alleges that Regan and one of his top staffers, Marcus Hatcher, carried out sexual misconduct and retaliation against union staffers.

The following are excerpts from yesterday’s article in Payday Report. Here’s a link to the full article.

Payday Report has learned that not only has Regan been accused of covering up sexual misconduct, but he is now being accused of sexual misconduct himself and retaliating against whistleblowers.
“It was widely discussed amongst members that he had sexual relations with members and staff,” says Woods.
Woods says that the example set by Regan’s frequent drinking and personal sexual misconduct created a toxic culture where many felt pressure to have sex in order to get ahead.
“It’s a sexual culture—it was all okay,” says Wood. ”The culture at the time was everybody was having sex with everybody. That’s just the culture—sexual favors—that’s how people got ahead there”…
“He drinks all the time, everybody knows it,” says Woods who says she smelled alcohol on Regan’s breath many times during the work day. “He was always drunk—it was just the norm.”
SEIU-UHW did not immediately respond for a request for comment when reached late on Thursday…
Many say that the toxic workplace culture of SEIU-UHW stems from the hostile takeover of the local union by Regan and engineered by the top leadership of the international D.C. headquarters of SEIU in 2009.
“It’s a cultish type environment. When you go in, you feel great, you feel like you are a part of something big,” says Woods.  “You feel really good until you start getting into these robotic type of conversations, there is nothing genuine. It’s these robotic type of conversations meant to conform you…Its like they want to program you, you have to be as a mean as them”.
…Woods says that she felt pressure from SEIU not to fight management too much and that sometimes SEIU would even instruct her to get a member fired if they questioned SEIU’s lack of militancy; instructions, which Woods says she refused.
After getting hired by SEIU in the spring of 2015, she says she felt herself getting bullied almost immediately…
She says some union staffers also mocked a union staffer Mustafa “Hawk” Tahjuddin, who committed suicide in 2012 after leaving a note saying that pressure from the union pushed him over the edge….
In December of 2017, Woods says that Regan warned staffers at an executive board meeting against speaking out against sexual misconduct after one of Regan’s top staffers, Marcus Hatcher, was fired as a result of sexual misconduct allegations.
“Dave Regan was standing on the stage and they put all these numbers to these attorneys and he said ‘if you have an issue of sexual harassment then you can contact these attorneys, but you better damn well know that if you bring up allegations against us, you are coming up against a million dollar organization and we will come after you’,” says Wood…
“I thought the organization believed in the labor movement and that’s not the case,” says Woods.  “It’s not about the labor movement for Dave Regan, it’s about power and control or Dave Regan. It’s not about members and I’m not comfortable with that because I am lying to these people.”

Friday, February 22, 2019

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan Trips over Shoelace, Performs Faceplant

This is embarrassing.

Last week, Dave Regan committed another one of those fu*k-ups that’s earned SEIU-UHW a reputation as “the gang that can’t shoot straight.”

It happened in Los Angeles, where 230 workers at 158-bed USC Verdugo Hills Hospital voted recently to leave SEIU-UHW and work without a union. According to press reports, workers grew disillusioned after SEIU-UHW failed to negotiate strong contracts or provide good representation to its members.

Dave’s fu*k-up occurred when SEIU-UHW attempted to file a legal challenge after losing the election. Under NLRB rules, Regan and his attorneys were required to submit their challenge to both the NLRB and the hospital within seven days after the vote count. SEIU-UHW prepared the legal documents and actually sent them to the NLRB. But SEIU-UHW forgot to “cc” the hospital on the e-mail.

Consequently, SEIU-UHW’s legal challenge was tossed out and the election results were finalized by the NLRB, according to an article in the Glendale News-Press (Lila Seidman, “Labor board certifies election results disbanding union at USC hospital,” Glendale News-Press, February 19, 2019.)


This isn’t Regan’s first self-inflicted wound.

In both Arizona and Ohio, Regan famously spent millions of dollars to circulate petitions among voters in an effort to qualify statewide initiatives for the ballot. Unfortunately, Dave forgot to instruct his signature-collectors to sign paperwork required by state election officials… which resulted in both petitions being tossed out. In Ohio alone, Regan’s blunder cost SEIU-UHW more than $4 million.

And then there was the time that Dave reportedly assaulted a court worker who was trying to deliver legal records to Dave’s house.

Does Dave have more embarrassing human tricks up his sleeve?  

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Latest Gig for SEIU’s Andy Stern

As 35,000 Los Angeles teachers struck to oppose the harmful effects of charter schools, SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern jumped onto the side of (you guessed it) the charter schools and other “bold” ideas backed by his deep-pocketed patrons.

In a recent column in The Daily Beast, Stern announced he’s taken a seat on the Board of Directors of Cambiar Education, which “is now incubating over 20 projects and trying to raise a new venture fund,” according to Andy. 

Cambiar is a California-based organization funded by the venture philanthropy group New Schools Venture Fund.

In another one of his so-called "bold" ideas, Stern argues that education should go the way of Google, Apple and Big Tech. Stern writes:
Silicon Valley has created an ecosystem to foster and scale innovation: a continuum of educational institutions, incubators, startups, and funders with different stages and strategies of investment. United by a “can-do” culture of experimentation that accepts failure, the Valley regularly generates disruptive ideas and creates companies that change the world.

In response, C.M. Lewis published a fantastic take-down of Andy entitled “Andy Stern is back. This time, it's ed reform” (Strikewave, February 13, 2019). Here are some excerpts:
Stern thinks we need to disrupt education by bringing a Silicon Valley ethos to the classroom.
Quelle surprise.
Stern’s post-union career has been characterized by a hard pivot toward the tech sector and abandonment of interest in the labor movement. It’s been quite the 180° for the modern era’s most notorious union leader…
It’s no surprise that Stern thinks that the same market-driven, Silicon Valley “solutions” should enter the education sphere… Stern has peddled the same utopian (or dystopian, depending on who you ask) vision of benevolent saviors in paeans on the universal basic income for right-wing Cato Institute forums—and, really, for anyone that’ll still listen to him.
Unsurprisingly, Stern doesn’t actually offer much in the way of concrete proposals; really, all he has to say is that “some charters are good, but they’re not effective, so let’s bring in some Silicon Valley billionaire vultures to disrupt education and save the kids.” The ability of tech billionaires to offer solutions is assumed: after all, didn’t they give us Siri and Alexa? Why wouldn’t that translate into teaching our kids? Who would doubt that Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey can teach the children?
This is, in fact, the assumption behind Stern’s foray into education policy: that education reform—the played-out billionaire-driven agenda that spent the past few decades gutting our public schools and privatizing the education sector—is still the solution. Just add venture capital, some paternalistic tech billionaires, and mix till blended…
Stern has made his post-union career serving as a hype man for anti-worker interests; all they need to do is show they have a former union head on their side to say “See, we’re not so bad!” It’s no surprise that he came out swinging in favor of friendlier, gentler education reform right as the teacher revolt against school privatization reached its pinnacle in Los Angeles. Someone’s got to carry water for the folks picking apart our education system; if he undercuts a union victory in the process, well—it wouldn’t be the first time.
Stern may not be convincing anyone in organized labor, and he’s certainly not convincing teachers. But he does do something insidious: give cover to some of the worst social actors around; ones that think that just because they’ve amassed billions, they can use society as a laboratory. His participation and support allows them to pretend that they do have the interests of workers in mind, and that their policies won’t hurt working families. After all, Stern was the “New Face of Labor.”
Stern’s spectre still hasn’t been completely exorcised from organized labor, or from the broader political discussion. Folks like David Rolf still wield influence, and SEIU has struggled to oust the predators and abusive bullies Stern cultivated like Scott Courtney and Dave Regan. He’s still invited to talk to “thought leaders,” and prominent activists like Barbara Ehrenreich, Cecile Richards, and Robert Reich promote his work.
He’s problematic, sure—but he’s still getting invited to Thanksgiving, even though everyone knows he’ll ruin dinner by complaining about Sal Rosselli.
Enough is enough. Carrying water for education reform in 2019 is too far; doing it right as 35,000 teachers fought and won against the wholesale privatization of the second largest public school system in the country is unconscionable. Touting a pie-in-the-sky vision of future automation, innovated and disrupted schools, and benevolent tech billionaires doesn’t change the basic fact that we live in a moment in which it’s been made painfully clear that the elite don’t care about us, and that their interests are not our interests…

Here’s a link to the full piece.

Friday, February 8, 2019

230 Calif. Hospital Workers Vote to Leave SEIU-UHW

Last week, 230 workers at 158-bed USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in Los Angeles voted to dump SEIU-UHW as their union and return to non-union status, according to NLRB records and the Glendale News-Press

(Mark Kellam, “Members vote to decertify union at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital,” Glendale News-Press, February 1, 2019.)

The results of the NLRB election, which took place on January 30-31, are 118 (No Union) to 107 (SEIU-UHW).

The outcome was a blow to SEIU-UHW and its president, Dave Regan. It happened exactly 10 years after Regan seized control of SEIU-UHW following a trusteeship imposed by SEIU’s DC headquarters.

Quite a telling way to mark your 10-year anniversary on the job, right?

Since 2009, SEIU-UHW’s membership has declined by approximately one-third and Regan has poured more than $30 million of the union members’ dues into a failed strategy of using ballot initiatives to unionize healthcare workers.

Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW’s members routinely complain about the union’s failure to enforce labor contracts and its refusal to give basic workplace support to its members. Regan has also failed to organize effective bargaining campaigns to protect workers’ wages, benefits and working conditions.

Unlike other unions, SEIU-UHW refuses to conduct strikes to force hospital corporations to treat workers fairly.

Regan, who’s notorious for making backroom deals with employers, has given away the defined-benefit pension plans of tens of thousands of workers at hospital chains like Dignity Health and Verity Health, prompting other employers to seek the same concessions.

According to media reports, the workers at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital requested an election to dump SEIU-UHW after the union failed to deliver on its promise to help workers improve their pay and benefits.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

NUHW Celebrates a Decade

This month marks ten years since the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) was founded on the heels of a disastrous trusteeship imposed by SEIU’s Purple Palace in Washington DC.

Since 2009, NUHW has grown to more than 15,000 members. It has built a democratic and member-controlled union while waging militant fights and repeated strikes against healthcare corporations like Kaiser Permanente... winning it a reputation as a "giant killer." Last year saw NUHW’s expansion to Hawaii.

Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW has pursued a very different strategy: becoming the boss’s best friend.

SEIU-UHW has given up massive concessions to California’s biggest healthcare corporations. It’s given away workers’ defined-benefit pension plans, eliminated workers’ fully employer-paid health insurance, and allowed corporations like Dignity Health to impose wage freezes on 15,000 workers.

Forget strikes, says SEIU-UHW’s Trustee/President Dave Regan. In fact, SEIU-UHW has carried out only one or two strikes during an entire decade. SEIU-UHW even teamed up with Kaiser's execs to organize against workers' strikes.

What, then, is SEIU-UHW’s strategy for winning some measure of justice from the giant corporations that dominate the US economy?

During a TV interview with Los Angeles’s KNBC TV station, Regan famously admitted that SEIU-UHW is not interested in fighting employers on behalf of workers and their patients. The era of "adversarial relationships" between workers and corporations is dead, says Regan.

Instead, SEIU-UHW pursues “collaboration” and “teamwork” with corporations... as memorialized in Regan’s backroom deals with executives that force workers into cheap, pre-negotiated labor contracts. Check out this quick excerpt from his TV interview.

At first, corporations were all too happy to accept Regan’s boot-licking approach.

Later, when Regan’s usefulness had been exhausted, the execs kicked him to the curb like a two-bit punk. Gone were the days when Diamond Dave could prance around hotel suites with pinstriped execs.

Since then, Regan -- his ego on crutches -- has latched onto ballot initiatives, rather than worker organization, as his latest lame strategy for “winning for workers.”

Congrats to NUHW for all of its accomplishments and its perseverance during a time of ascendant corporations and intense need for worker organizing!

It’s been quite a decade, with more battles ahead.

For coverage of NUHW’s 10-year anniversary, see Steve Early’s article published earlier this week, with a few excerpts pasted below. (Steve Early, “A Trusteeship Diaspora: How SEIU’s-Inflicted Loss Became Labor’s Gain,” Beyond Chron, January 29, 2019.)
[Former SEIU President Andy] Stern’s military style take-over of UHW greatly tarnished SEIU’s reputation for being “progressive.”  It generated bad press for the entire labor movement because the trusteeship lent credence to anti-union propaganda about “union bosses” running roughshod over the rank-and-file and misusing their dues money…
Post-trusteeship UHW quickly lost the respect of other California unions and their political friends in Sacramento. In recent years, the Stern-installed leadership of UHW helped fracture a multi-union bargaining coalition at Kaiser Permanente, wasted more than $30 million on failed ballot initiatives, and lost a third of its membership….
Rosselli and other UHW members succeeded in building a new statewide healthcare workers organization that is independent of any national labor union… NUHW now has a statewide membership of 15,000 in about forty bargaining units. The union is known for its militant contract campaigns and involvement in progressive causes like Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and the on-going fight for single-payer healthcare.
…full-time staffers once employed by UHW have gone to work for other unions, central labor councils, labor reform struggles, community organizations, and political campaigns across the country. This new diaspora—from a once exemplary SEIU local– is helping thousands of workers win high profile organizing campaigns and strikes, like the recent LA teachers walk-out, and rejuvenate the unions involved.