Friday, February 17, 2017

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan: ‘I’m running for re-election’

Despite earlier reports to the contrary, Dave Regan is officially running for re-election as president of SEIU-UHW.

Days ago, the union announced that Regan will join two other candidates on the ballot in next month’s mail-ballot election. And next week, Regan and the other candidates are supposed to post statements on SEIU-UHW’s website about their candidacies.

What about the earlier reports of Regan’s imminent departure?

In December 2015, Regan told a meeting of the union’s Executive Board he would not run for re-election, according to board members who attended the meeting. Regan also said he was backing the director of SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division, Chokri Bensaid, to be his replacement.

Several months ago, staffers at SEIU-UHW confirmed that Regan was on his way out.

What changed?

Hard to tell. Perhaps Regan had a change of heart and decided to hang onto his annual $250,000 salary.

Observers point to another possibility. If Regan fears his chosen successor might not win a contested election, he may be running so that sometime after he’s installed for a new three-year term, he can resign and have the Executive Board appoint his chosen successor without a union-wide election.

Who’s running against Regan in next month’s election?
Niko Anagnostopoulos
Both of his challengers are rank-and-file members at Kaiser Permanente and currently serve on the union’s Executive Board.

One of them, Niko Anagnostopoulos, ran against Regan in 2014 and got about 1,200 votes compared to Regan’s 8,000. Anagnostopoulos has set up a website and Facebook page that criticizes Regan and his slate of Executive Board candidates, which is called the “Healthcare Justice slate,” for failing to represent workers on the job and for Regan’s “failed policies.”

Here’s an excerpt from Anagnostopoulos website:
Currently to remain as an elected officer with the existing UHW administration I would only be contributing to the failed policies of the establishment.  You will no doubt become familiar with “HealthCare Justice” as the masses of glossy flyers begin to clutter our mailboxes leading up to the election on March 15th, 2017…    The "HealthCare Justice Slate" has failed to represent all of its members.  The HealthCare slate leadership has jeopardized UHWs standing by pursuing a reckless policy of litigation with our employers.  I know that together we can act on a more constructive relationship with our administrative associates.  I believe that new leadership can improve our daily working conditions without further damaging the integrity and public perception of SEIU-UHW.

Last month, says Anagnostopoulos, the SEIU-UHW steward Council at Kaiser Walnut Creek Medical Center voted not to endorse Regan’s “Healthcare Justice slate.” It’s unclear if they voted to endorse Anagnostopoulos.

Anagnostopoulos’ campaign Facebook page takes a shot at Regan and the other six-figure staffers like Cass Gualvez who are Regan’s candidates for SEIU-UHW’s “Executive Committee.” Here’s what it says:
Here is a graphic showing the candidates for the SEIU-UHW election. We have included the union staff salaries. Do you feel protected? Have they earned re-election?

The third candidate is Cartina Price, a Licensed Vocational Nurse at Kaiser Torrance Clinic in Los Angeles.  It’s not clear if she has a website presence so far.
Cartina Price

SEIU-UHW’s past elections have been marked by low voter turnout and plenty of controversy. During SEIU-UHW's officer elections in 2011 and 2014, Regan was able to corral little more than 8,000 votes from the union's 140,000 members.

In 2011, Sophia Sims -- a rank-and-file Kaiser worker with few resources -- came within several thousand votes of defeating Regan, who collected only 7,000 votes that year. Not an impressive showing when you consider that Regan massively outspent Sims and also used the union's entire institutional machinery to push his candidacy onto the membership.

The elections were also marred by allegations of vote-rigging by Regan, which were detailed in a complaint to the US Department of Labor and a February 2011 lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

After the 2011 election, Regan looked for opportunities to knock Sims out of contention in future elections.

In 2012, he accused her of "gross disloyalty or conduct unbecoming a member" and ordered her to be subjected to an SEIU-UHW show trial. In 2013, Regan's hand-picked kangaroo court found Sims "guilty" and banned her from competing in SEIU-UHW's elections for seven years.

This year’s election will be the first since SEIU-UHW lost more than half of its membership when the union’s long-term care workers were transferred to SEIU Local 2015, headed by Laphonza Butler. Historically, Regan relied on homecare workers as a key source of votes in elections.

Friday, February 3, 2017

President of SEIU Union in Chicago Appeals Purple Palace’s Trusteeship Decision

Christine Boardman
On Monday, Christine Boardman (President of SEIU Local 73) formally appealed SEIU’s recent decision to continue its trusteeship of the union, which represents 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and Northwestern Indiana.

Boardman, in a January 30 letter to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and Secretary-Treasurer Gerry Hudson, says SEIU’s decision to continue the trusteeship “is fraught with factual and legal errors and is in violation of the SEIU International Constitution as well as the LMRDA,” a reference to the federal Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Boardman requested a hearing before SEIU’s International Executive Board as part of her appeal. 

A copy of Boardman’s letter is below.

In an e-mail to supporters, Boardman vowed to fight SEIU’s decision, which was first announced on January 27 on Local 73’s website.

Last August, SEIU officials seized control of Local 73 through an “emergency trusteeship.” The action suspended Boardman and Matthew Brandon, Local 73’s Secretary-Treasurer, from their elected positions and also suspended the union’s Executive Board. Henry appointed three of her representatives to run the union as "trustees."

On September 24, 2016, SEIU officials conducted a “trusteeship hearing” headed by a hearing officer, Edgar Romney, to determine whether SEIU’s “emergency trusteeship” was justified and should continue. Romney, who was selected by Mary Kay Henry, is a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board and is the Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU’s “Workers United” division, which happens to owe $16.7 million to SEIU.

SEIU’s trusteeship hearings are typically kangaroo courts in which attorneys from the Purple Palace literally write a pre-ordained decision that's simply signed by the Hearing Officer.

On January 25, 2017, SEIU’s International Executive Board (IEB) approved Romney’s finding that “the trusteeship was imposed properly and should be continued.” 

Surprise, surprise, right? 

The IEB also adopted Romney’s recommendation that Local 73’s Executive Board be disbanded and that Boardman and Brandon be permanently removed from office.

Mary Kay Henry has appointed two trustees to run the local: Dian Palmer (President of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin) and Denise Poloyac (Director of SEIU’s Property Services Division).

Eliseo Medina, who launched the trusteeship in August, is no longer a trustee at Local 73. At the end of summer, he flew back to California to serve as Henry’s “monitor” of SEIU Local 99 in Los Angeles following alleged misconduct by SEIU officials there.

So what’s the basis of Boardman’s appeal?

She says the trusteeship hearing and the subsequent actions by SEIU’s International Executive Board were “fraught with factual and legal errors” that violated SEIU’s Constitution.

In an e-mail sent to supporters this week, Boardman said the “vast majority” of the witnesses at the trusteeship hearing were from SEIU International. Neither Boardman nor Brandon was allowed to ask questions of SEIU witnesses, whom she describes as “bogus.” Boardman says she was permitted to make a statement during the hearing, but portions of her testimony – including an objection – were never included in the hearing records.

Furthermore, Boardman says SEIU’s justification for the trusteeship is “ridiculous.”

SEIU officials said they seized control of Local 73 because of fighting between Boardman and Brandon. “However,” writes Boardman, “the International used a different standard on [Local 73] than they did on other locals.” She continues:
This includes Local 99 in LA where the President was found to be stealing money and Local 1107 in Las Vegas where the Executive Vice President had an order of protection issued against her because of physical confrontations with the staff.  Six months later the President and Executive Vice President of 1107 filed charges against each other, plus 400 members signed petitions asking that the International trustee Local 1107.  For those locals the International did not have an emergency trusteeship. The International’s position that we [Local number 73] needed an “emergency trusteeship” is ridiculous.

Those familiar with SEIU’s recent history are likely laughing their asses off to see Edgar Romney serving as some sort of judge of moral probity. 

In 2009, Romney and Bruce Raynor joined Andy Stern in SEIU’s attempted hostile takeover of UNITE HERE, the United States’ largest union of hotel, food service, and casino workers. Across the US, labor leaders and observers slammed SEIU, Raynor, and Romney for their underhanded attack on UNITE HERE and its 450,000 members.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

SEIU’s Dave Regan Loses Another Court Battle to California Hospital Association

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan lost yet another legal battle to the California Hospital Association (CHA) over his secretive, sweetheart deal with hospital CEOs.

On January 13, 2017, a Sacramento County (Calif.) Superior Court judge effectively tossed out Regan’s personal lawsuit against CHA’s CEO, Duane Dauner, and three other CHA officials. Instead, the judge ordered Regan’s allegations to be sent to binding arbitration, as required by Regan’s secret 2014 “partnership” deal with the CHA.

A copy of the judge’s decision is below.

Regan’s suit, initially filed on November 24, 2015, alleges that four top leaders of the CHA violated their “fiduciary duties,” committed “dishonest acts and gross abuses of authority and discretion,” and carried out “unlawful conduct” by “undermining” Regan’s scheme to secure billions more dollars of Medicaid funding for California’s hospital corporations.

Why was Regan trying to put more taxpayer money in hospital corporations’ pockets?

It was one of the requirements of his secret deal with the CHA. Specifically, hospital CEOs required Regan to deliver $6 billion a year in additional revenues to California hospital corporations as the price for “buying” special treatment from CEOs during SEIU unionization campaigns.

And that’s not the only concession Regan gave to hospital CEOs.
Dave Regan and Duane Dauner
He also agreed to force any newly organized workers into cheap, pre-negotiated SEIU-UHW labor contracts that included a ban on strikes and a far-reaching gag clause barring SEIU-UHW from criticizing hospital companies and their gold-plated executives.

Regan’s lawsuit is yet another piece of the paper trail documenting “Wall Street” Dave’s backroom deals with hospital CEOs.

The suit also offers a window into the internal battles raging between SEIU’s officials. For example, Regan’s lawsuit says Dauner met “secretly” with officials from SEIU to “undermine” Regan’s Medicaid funding scheme.

Which SEIU officials?

LaPhonza Butler (President of SEIU Local 2015) and Jon Youngdahl (former Executive Director of SEIU California State Council), says Regan.

According to Regan’s suit, SEIU officials undercut him by telling Dauner that “UHW and its president, Plaintiff Regan, would soon lose half its membership and that Defendant Dauner needed to deal with Butler and the SEIU State Council – not Regan and UHW – if he wanted to accomplish any legislative and policy goals that were important to CHA’s members.”
Jon Youngdahl

Last spring, Tasty published a leaked 30-page document containing the questions that SEIU-UHW attorneys posed to Dauner during a closed-door legal proceeding, including grilling him about Dauner’s meetings with SEIU’s LaPhonza Butler and Jon Youngdahl.

Elsewhere in the suit, Regan alleges that Dauner “sabotaged” him and “hid” his activities from Regan and others.

Regan’s suit seeks Dauner’s removal from the board of directors of “Caring for Californians,” a partnership organization jointly established by CHA and SEIU-UHW following their 2014 deal. The organization was funded with $50 million that Regan and Dauner diverted from their organizations’ coffers.

Regan and Dauner are the Co-Chairs of “Caring for Californians.” The remaining seats on its Board of Directors are split evenly between CHA and SEIU-UHW. That’s why Regan also sued Greg Adams (Group President at Kaiser Permanente), Mark Laret (CEO of UCSF Medical Center), and James Holmes (CEO of Redlands Community Hospital). They’re CHA’s appointees to the “Caring for Californians” board, and Regan alleges they, too, committed “unlawful conduct” and violations of their fiduciary duties.

So who did Regan appoint to fill SEIU-UHW’s seats on the board?

Three SEIU-UHW staffers: Dave Kieffer, Cass Gualvez, and Arianna Jimenez.

With last month’s ruling in Sacramento Superior Court, Regan has maintained a perfect winless record in the multiple lawsuits that followed the collapse of his secret deal with the CHA.

In June of 2016, for example, a Superior Court judge ordered SEIU-UHW to withdraw a statewide initiative from the California ballot or face millions of dollars in penalties. In November 2016, the court ordered SEIU-UHW to submit to binding arbitration over Regan’s refusal to return $34 million to CHA and SEIU-UHW.
LaPhonza Butler
What’s next for Dave?

Regan, who is rumored to be stepping down from his position as SEIU-UHW’s president, apparently will be wrapped up in lawsuits for the foreseeable future.  

At least one question remains unclear. 

Who will fund Regan’s lawsuits after he steps down? In the suit discussed in this post, Regan sued as an individual, not as SEIU-UHW. Should SEIU-UHW’s members continue to pay tens of thousands of dollars to litigate Regan’s personal lawsuit? 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

NUHW Wins Another One

Yesterday, 250 staffers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California voted overwhelmingly to join NUHW. Here are the results from the NLRB election:

150 (NUHW), 38 (No Union), and 30 (Challenged Ballots).

NUHW’s new members include psychologists, medical social workers, licensed clinical social workers, dietitians, pharmacists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and others.

The election continues NUHW’s winning streak. The red union has added more than 2,000 members during the past 12 months.

For example, NUHW added 500 members by winning elections at two additional California hospitals just nine weeks ago.

Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW is floundering.

Last November, 250 workers at College Hospital Cerritos in Los Angeles decertified SEIU-UHW. Earlier, professional staffers at Dignity Health’s Northridge Hospital Medical Center also bolted SEIU-UHW. Those workers included clinical lab scientists, social workers, radiation therapists, nuclear medicine technologists, etc.

SEIU-UHW has repeatedly accepted massive benefit cuts and wage freezes affecting tens of thousands of its members, and is now facing huge difficulty in getting workers to want to join up. Shocker, right?

Congrats to NUHW’s members!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Critic Slams SEIU’s Andy Stern for Selling Out Workers

Andy Stern and David Cote, CEO of Honeywell
Jay Youngdahl, a labor and civil rights lawyer, is part of a growing chorus of voices attacking Andy Stern for his latest sellout of US workers.

Youngdahl’s piece, entitled “In the Fantasy Land of Labor Theorists: Andy Stern’s Latest Contribution,” was published by In These Times on January 19, 2017. 

In it, Youngdahl describes Stern’s proposal to allow states to replace federal labor laws with rules of their own choosing as “outlandish,” “ridiculous,” “make-believe,” and “anti-union.”

The article was published a day before protesters barricaded the San Francisco headquarters of one of Stern’s newest corporate patrons, Uber

Protesters targeted the tech company due to the Uber CEO’s decision to serve on Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum along with Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, Stephen Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group, and other corporate fatcats. One protester told USA Today: "We came out today to tell the CEO of Uber that we don't agree with him collaborating with the Trump Administration on labor practices."

S,F, protested Uber's collaboration with Trump
Youngdahl’s article was published the same day that Uber agreed to pay a “$20 million to settle allegations that it duped people into driving for its ride-hailing service with false promises about how much they would earn,” according to the Associated Press.

Bloomberg recently reported that Stern is working as a highly paid consultant for Handy, Airbnb, Uber, and other tech companies to help them pass new laws to fend off workers’ class-action lawsuits and to loosen labor laws and government oversight.

Here are some excerpts from Youngdahl’s piece. The full text is available here.
Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), now works for gig economy “platform” companies and is lobbying for a New York law to refuse employee protections for workers at Handy and other such companies. He recently penned an article in National Affairs, along with right-wing think tanker Eli Lehrer of the R Street Institute.
Stern has been talking about the future of the labor movement for years, with a dazzling variety of solutions and approaches. Remember his claim, and $14 million of SEIU money, that call centers were essential to “high-quality member representation?”
It is important to note that Stern’s ideas are similar to those of anti-union think tanks like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which produced F. Vincent Vernuccio, now a member of Trump’s transition team at the Department of Labor. Vernuccio co-wrote a piece entitled “Right-to-Work Strengthens Unions.” In their article, Stern and Lehrer similarly embrace right-to-work, as it is, in their words, “unfair to force representation on workers who don’t want it.”
…[T]hose in Stern’s make-believe world preach that all can be harmonious between labor and capital, ignoring American history and the explosive growth of income inequality. Collective bargaining and workers’ struggle are not only discounted; they are often ridiculed.
No one disputes that unions are in deep, deep trouble. But the advice of those who profit off their “expert” opinions… suffers from a separation from the actual lives of workers. New ideas arise out of struggle, not from foundations, corporate shills or right-wing think tanks… As inequality and its consequences mount, even more struggles and progressive formations will emerge. They are likely to be imperfect and messy, but from them useful ideas as to the future of collective worker action will become clearer. One thing is sure, though: Such a vision will not come from Stern.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Andy Stern’s Newest Gig: High-Paid Consultant for Billion-Dollar Tech Companies

Andy Stern, SEIU President Emeritus
SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern has once again revealed his true colors.

Stern is working as a highly paid consultant for Airbnb, Handy, and other billion-dollar tech businesses, according to a January 10, 2017 article (Josh Eidelson, “It’s a New Game for Uber Drivers If New York Passes This Law,” Bloomberg Businessweek).

In New York, for example, Handy hired Stern to help push a bill through the state legislature that would allow Handy and other gig-economy companies like Uber, Instacart, and TaskRabbit to fend off lawsuits filed by workers who seek to be treated as employees rather than “independent contractors.” 

The bill is also backed by the trade group “Tech:NYC,” whose members include Uber, Facebook, Google, EBay, and Etsy.

The bill “would make it easier for gig-economy app makers to continue to treat their workers as contractors, loosening New York’s current standards,” according to Bloomberg. Handy, co-founded in 2012 by two Harvard Business School students, sends workers to people’s homes to clean up or make repairs.

Oh, and that's just the beginning of the pimping that "Handy Andy" has been doing for his billion-dollar tech patrons.

In a separate gig, Stern last month co-authored a proposal with a right-wing D.C. political operative calling on the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress and White House to grant “waivers” to states to allow them to do an end-run around federal labor laws. The waivers would be a boon to tech companies, which are facing dozens of class-action action lawsuits from workers alleging they are owed millions in back pay after being misclassified as “independent contractors.”

Stern’s proposal, which appeared in “National Affairs” (Andrew Stern and Eli Lehrer, “How to Modernize Labor Law,” National Affairs), is co-authored by Eli Lehrer, the President of the right-wing “R Street Institute” in Washington DC.

How do Stern and Lehrer propose to “modernize” labor law?

Here's a shocker. 

They propose a legislative agenda that’s virtually identical to the tech industry’s. BTW, Stern's article just so happens to praise Uber and Handy as “sharing-economy companies” with “innovative business models.”

In the article, Stern successfully commits a serious ethical violation by failing to inform readers that he’s actually a highly paid consultant for Uber, Handy, and other tech companies. The article conveniently leaves aside this inconvenient fact, and simply identifies Stern as the “former president of the Service Employees International Union and a senior fellow at Columbia University.”

What’s the skinny on Eli Lehrer and the “R Street Institute”?

The R Street Institute describes itself as “a free market think tank” that favors “limited government.” 

It was founded in 2012 by former members of the Heartland Institute and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It’s an associate member of the “State Policy Network,” which the Center for Media and Democracy describes as “a web of right-wing ‘think tanks’ in every state across the country” with deep ties to the billionaire Koch brothers and other conservative funders.

For example, the R Street Institute opposes raising the minimum wage and supports legislation to make it easier for companies to classify their workers as “independent contractors.”

Who is Lehrer?

He’s the president and co-founder of The R Street Institute. Formerly, he served as the senior editor of The American Enterprise magazine and was a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, according to his bio.
Handy CEO Oisin Hanrahan

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Stern’s and Lehrer’s proposal would cause great harm to workers.

Think about it. 

If the federal government decides to “decentralize” labor law by granting “waivers” to states so they can “experiment” with alternative labor laws, what might they do?

Just consider the right-wing forces and Tea Party fanatics who now control many state legislatures.

In Kentucky, where Republicans control state government for the first time in nearly a century, legislators last weekend passed a right-to-work law that was promptly signed by the Republican governor. The new law also prohibits public employees from going on strike.

Next up? Kentucky legislators are considering a bill to eliminate prevailing wages for public works projects.

Meanwhile, state legislatures in Texas, Kentucky, Missouri, Minnesota, and Virginia offer another glimpse of the will right-wing ideologues controlling many states. Each of these legislatures will be considering so-called “bathroom bills” like North Carolina’s, which would require transgender people to use restrooms in public schools, universities, and government buildings that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificate. Many of the bills would also ban cities and counties from approving ordinances aimed at protecting transgender rights.

So… what a f*cking great idea, Andy. An absolutely perfect moment in history to give waivers to state legislatures so they can “experiment” with crazy-ass changes to laws governing workers’ minimum wages, overtime hours, anti-discrimination rules, pension rights, and rights to form unions.

Here are a few excerpts from Stern’s and Lehrer’s “bold” proposal to “modernize” US labor law:
It's time for a new path, one that takes advantage of one of the most successful public-policy innovations of the past 50 years: waivers from federal law to allow state experimentation… A system to allow state waivers from major labor laws similarly could give every interest group a chance to try bold reforms the federal framework doesn't currently allow.
The laws eligible for waivers should include, at minimum, the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and the Taft-Hartley Act.

What sort of concrete innovations do Stern and Lehrer envision?

Here are a couple described in the article:

Overtime Pay: Instead of the current laws requiring companies to pay overtime wages after eight hours, “waivers might also allow averaging of overtime over several weeks or a month,” thereby allowing companies to reduce overtime pay to workers.

Wage Rates: Instead of current laws requiring companies and labor unions to collectively negotiate a system of pay rates covering all workers, waivers could “leave matters of wages or benefits or both to negotiations between managers and individual employees.”
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin

WTF is Stern doing?

Stern is a pimp without a shred of principles or moral grounding… just a lust for lining his pockets with as much cash as he can possibly stuff inside them. 

Just weeks after resigning as SEIU’s president in 2010, Stern began pocketing wads of stock options and cash from billionaire Ron Perelman, an employer of SEIU’s members whom Stern reportedly negotiated secret labor deals. SEIU officials, including Mary Kay Henry, took no action to stop Stern’s apparent ethics violations. In fact, SEIU continues to consider Stern its “President Emeritus.”

What’s next on Stern’s agenda?

Here’s an idea. 

Perhaps he might want to propose giving “waivers” to allow Republican-controlled state legislatures to “experiment” with “bold innovations” to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and other federal statutes designed to protect people’s fundamental rights. 

Tasty is confident that if someone gives Handy Andy a thick wad of cash, he’d no-doubt oblige.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

SEIU's Memo on 30% Budget Cuts

Here’s the memo from SEIU President Mary Kay Henry to "all SEIU staff" detailing plans to cut SEIU’s budget by 30% by January 1, 2018. Tasty reported on the memo, dated December 14, 2016, in this post.