Friday, May 24, 2019

Breaking: Feds Order Rerun of Officer Elections at Trustee’d SEIU Union


The US Department of Labor has overturned the results of internal officer elections at SEIU Local 73 due to misconduct, according to an e-mail and a press statement from SEIU (see below). 

The federal agency reportedly ordered a government-supervised rerun of the elections to choose the union’s president, officers, and Executive Board.

Dian Palmer, who has served as SEIU’s trustee at Local 73, said in an e-mail sent yesterday to Local 73’s members that the election was overturned because of “a problem with the conduct of one of our local union staff who was elected to the local’s executive board in our last election. The identified conduct was a misuse of union data during the election campaign.” Palmer says the individual has resigned. 

Tasty’s sources say the individual is Organizing Director and Executive Board member Sean McGough. It's unclear whether he is a fall guy and whether others were also involved.

During last year’s elections, two competing slates of candidates battled for votes: one backed by SEIU’s trustees and the other (“Members leading Members”) supported by former staff and members of the union who called for greater local control. The now-overturned elections, held in October 2018, saw Palmer elected as the union’s president. Until then, she had served as SEIU’s trustee since SEIU imposed its trusteeship in August 2016.

Just days after the October 2018 election, “Members leading Members” filed a complaint with the US Department of Labor alleging 13 violations of election rules. For example, the complaint alleged that SEIU’s trustees used union resources to campaign for the slate headed by SEIU’s trustees. According to other allegations, thousands of members did not receive mail-in ballots. Here’s a link to the complaint, which apparently prompted the federal investigation.

A rerun election has not yet been scheduled.

The action by the DOL is the latest controversy to wrack Local 73 since SEIU President Mary Kay Henry imposed a trusteeship on the union nearly three years ago. 

First, a lawsuit alleged that SEIU’s trusteeship was improper. Then, in January 2018, Trustee Dian Palmer fired about ten members of the union’s staff after they announced plans to stand as candidates for the “Members leading Members” slate.

Next, in February 2018, union members filed two federal lawsuits alleging that SEIU officials had improperly failed to allow members to retake control of their union through membership elections. With a judge threatening to order an immediate election, SEIU officials finally agreed to conduct an election in October 2018.

Local 73, headquartered in Chicago, represents 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and Northwestern Indiana.

Here’s the e-mail sent by trustee Dian Palmer to Local 73 members regarding the DOL’s action. Note that Palmer says SEIU officials are voluntarily requesting a rerun election. However, Tasty’s sources say a rerun election was ordered by the feds because of election misconduct.

From: "Dian Palmer" <info@seiu73.org>
Date: May 23, 2019 at 1:10:58 PM CDT
To:  >
Subject: Important information about last year’s election of union officers
Reply-To: info@seiu73.org


Dear members,

I am writing today to share important information related to last year’s election of officers. In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Labor has been conducting an intensive review of our 2018 officer elections. Our leadership team is absolutely committed to ensuring that each of you has a union that operates with integrity and transparency. To ensure this, we have fully cooperated with the Department of Labor in their investigation and have responded to each and every question quickly and thoroughly.

Making this union work for you is our main priority. This week, we were shocked and appalled when the Department of Labor informed us of a problem with the conduct of one of our local union staff who was elected to the local’s executive board in our last election. The identified conduct was a misuse of union data during the election campaign. Conduct like this has no place in our union. We took this problem seriously, confronted the staff person, and immediately asked him to leave both his staff position and his office. He has since resigned.

We are focused on doing everything we can to ensure that you have complete confidence in the democratic processes of this union. We intend to cooperate fully with the Department of Labor and will ask for a re-run of our local union’s election. We expect that the Department of Labor will supervise the election. Rest assured, as we work through this process, we will continue the work of our union to improve the lives of all SEIU Local 73 members.

Once we have more information, including details of the upcoming election, we will share them immediately. You can read the statement we shared with members of the media byclicking here. In the interim, if you have any questions, please reach out to your Member Action at 312 787 5868 or email mac@seiu73.org.

In unity,

Dian Palmer, President

Copyright © 2018Service Employees International Union Local 73All rights reserved.
SEIU
300 S Ashland
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

Friday, May 10, 2019

Dave Regan's Ballot Initiatives Push SEIU-UHW into the Red


Like a snake-oil salesman, Dave Regan continues to hawk his ballot initiatives to SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board despite their ineffectiveness and colossal cost.

How costly are Dave's ballot initiatives?

Last year, SEIU-UHW's spending on lobbying and political activities tripled to $37.5 million from the prior year.

Regan's ballot initiatives were so expensive they caused SEIU-UHW to experience a $17.5 million loss for the year, according to the union's annual financial report to the US Department of Labor. (The union took in revenues of $114.7 but spent $132.2 million.)

Excerpt from SEIU-UHW's DOL Form LM-2 for 2018
This may help explain why SEIU-UHW is now charging its members a maximum dues rate of $168 per month.

Regan's spending also helped SEIU-UHW surpass a disturbing threshold: the union spent more money on “political activities and lobbying” ($37.5 million) than it did on “representational activities” ($36.3 million).

How does this spending compare to other unions?

Tasty took a look at the spending patterns of similar unions during the same year and using the same data set (DOL Forms LM-2). Check out the table below. As you can see, SEIU-UHW’s spending is ass-backwards.


Representational Activities
Political Activities and Lobbying
Ratio of Spending on Representation to Pol/Lobbying
SEIU 2015 (CA Longterm Care Wkrs)
$16.5 million
$5.1 million
3.2 to 1
SEIU Local 1021 (Northern Cal)
$11.5 million
$2.0 million
5.8 to 1
SEIU 1199NY
$57.0 million
$14.5 million
3.9 to 1
SEIU Local 49 (Oregon)
$3.4 million
$0.5 million
6.8 to 1
NUHW
$6.0 million
$0.7 million
8.6 to 1
SEIU-UHW
$36.3 million
$37.5 million
0.97 to 1

Here’s another interesting comparison.

Last year, SEIU-UHW spent almost three times more money on lobbying and political activities than did SEIU 1199NY… even though 1199NY had far more members (273,599) than SEIU-UHW (99,268).

In fact, if you tally up the political spending of the five other unions in the table above, it doesn’t even come close to what SEIU-UHW spent.

Hmmm, what do you call a union that spends more money on lobbying and political activities than representing its own members on the job? Good question.

A political consulting firm?

Apparently, that's Regan’s innovative strategy for “rebuilding the US labor movement.”




Friday, April 26, 2019

Lawsuit Alleges Another Sexual Scandal inside SEIU



SEIU continues to face allegations of sexual misconduct nearly two years after it grabbed headlines for scandals surrounding SEIU EVP Scott Courtney, several Fight for $15 staffers, a top official at 1199SEIU in Boston, and SEIU-UHW.

In one of the most recent episodes, SEIU’s second-largest local union was hit with a civil lawsuit by a former female organizer alleging that three male co-workers sexually assaulted her during an offsite work event. 

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, names SEIU Local 2015 and three of its male staffers as defendants.

The suit alleges that the three male staffers committed assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and defamation in an episode that’s reminiscent of the infamous one allegedly carried out by conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during a high school party.

Here’s what happened at a “work function” in Chicago, according to the lawsuit by the female SEIU organizer:
“Despite Plaintiff’s repeated statements that she was not interested in sex with him, Defendant #1 grabbed Plaintiff by the arm, took his penis out of his pants, and attempted to penetrate Plaintiff with it. Defended #2 restrained Plaintiff and prevented her from escaping while Defendant #1 attempted to rape her. Defendant #3, a supervisor for Defendant SEIU, watched the entire incident, verbally encouraging Defendants #1 and #2.”

A source inside Local 2015 tells Tasty that despite the lawsuit’s allegations, the union returned two of the defendants to work. And the local hired Glenn Rothner -- a lawyer whom SEIU often hires to fight decertification campaigns -- to defend itself against the suit.

Rothner recently filed a motion seeking to remove Local 2015 as a defendant. He argues that the union should not be held liable “because sexual assault is not within the course and scope of employment of the employees of unions.” Nice argument.

The lawsuit comes two years after #MeToo scandals forced SEIU President Mary Kay Henry to appoint an external advisory group to determine what practices SEIU could enact to stop sexual abuse within the union.

Hmmm. Sounds like Mary Kay Henry was not too successful.

And the suit comes at roughly the same time that Local 2015 decided to flaunt its impeccable moral judgment by re-hiring a disgraced former staffer, Rickman Jackson, who was removed from his job in 2008 for stealing $33,500 from the union’s low-waged members while serving as the Chief of Staff to the union’s then-president, Tyrone Freeman.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Members: 'Democracy Is under Fire at SEIU Local 73'


Dian Palmer




Here’s an update from Chicago about SEIU’s trusteeship of SEIU Local 73.

It turns out that SEIU officials did a real doozy on Local 73’s constitution and bylaws during the trusteeship of this union of  approximately 25,000 mainly public-sector workers in Illinois and northwestern Indiana.

Under the union’s old rules, Local 73’s officials were required to hold four general membership meetings each year where members could pose questions to union officials, introduce resolutions, vote on motions and budget issues, and take other actions.

What changes did the union’s new constitution bring?

Well, they eliminated the union-wide membership meetings and replaced them with one “assembly” per year… where only delegates are permitted to speak and vote. Members can only be observers.

In a recent newsletter, an opposition slate called “Members leading Members” offers more details:
the most damaging change came when the trustees eliminated all four annual membership meetings required by the old constitution. This act alone will completely take the members’ rights away when it comes to holding their leaders accountable and charting the direction of their local. Dian Palmer, from the very first day she came in from Wisconsin as a trustee, hated the membership meetings and the fact that the members were asking questions. At one staff meeting in June of 2017, Dian Palmer proposed that we eliminate the question and answer sessions from the membership meetings altogether.

At a membership meeting held on February 23, Local 73 officials – including the union’s current Chief of Staff Tyson Roan -- reportedly called police arrest Local 73’s former president, Christine Boardman, for allegedly “trespassing” when she attended the meeting and handed out the leaflet below. Boardman said she has a right to attend the meeting since she’s a retiree.

Meanwhile, the “Members leading Members” slate reports that trustee Dian Palmer -- Local 73’s new president -- got her salary bumped to $166,000 per year. Union members reportedly filed charges over the pay increase, alleging it was not properly approved.




Friday, April 5, 2019

Election Brings Initial Loss for SEIU at Kaiser



SEIU may be on the brink of losing a unit of 343 Registered Nurses at Kaiser Moreno Valley Medical Center in Southern California.

Last Friday, nurses cast their votes in an NLRB election triggered by members of SEIU Local 121 who requested a formal vote so they can leave SEIU because they’re dissatisfied with the union.

On election night, a majority of the ballots supported leaving SEIU. The final vote tally won’t be finalized until three dozen “challenged” ballots are resolved. According to the NLRB, the vote tally at the end of election night was the following:

No Union:  120
SEIU Local 121:  111
Challenged Ballots:  37

SEIU Local 121 appears to be worried it’ll lose the election when the “challenged” ballots are finally counted. After the vote count, it filed a formal appeal with the NLRB in an effort to overturn the entire election.

The hospital’s nurses have been members of SEIU for more than 10 years but have been dissatisfied with SEIU for a long time, according to an RN who called the purple union “fear mongers.”

The vote couldn’t come at a worse time for SEIU. The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which includes Local 121 and other SEIU locals, will go back to the bargaining table with Kaiser for the first time on April 17 to negotiate a “national agreement.”

Since 2009, SEIU unions at Kaiser have been led by SEIU-UHW president Dave Regan, who has given away massive cuts in health benefits and retirement plans at hospital chains across California. Kaiser now appears to be angling to win the same cuts for its workers. 

Regan has been a big proponent of “partnership” deals with Kaiser and even colluded with Kaiser executives to fight strikes by other Kaiser workers, including statewide walkouts by the National Union of Healthcare Workers and the California Nurses Association.

Last year, Kaiser’s partnership unions split into two after Regan reportedly attempted to seize more decision-making power inside the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. The unions fed up with Regan broke away and formed a new coalition called the Alliance of Health Care Unions, which negotiated a national agreement of its own in 2018.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Guess Who's Back? Shady Rickman... Again. WTF!?



In 2008, Rickman Jackson became a household name across Southern California after the Los Angeles Times revealed he’d stolen more than $30,000 from the low-wage homecare members of SEIU Local 2015.

At the time, Jackson served as the “Chief of Staff” of the union’s president, Tyrone Freeman. Together, they stole thousands of dollars from the union’s members. Jackson personally accompanied Tyrone on union-funded adventures to “the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills for $175 glasses of cognac” and other felonious funfests, including Freeman’s union-funded wedding at a Hawaiian resort.

Freeman was sentenced to 33 months in a federal prison. And Jackson was stripped of his union position.

What’s the latest?

SEIU Local 2015 -- the scene of Rickman’s corruption -- just hired Rickman as the Director of its Organizing Department, according to a source inside SEIU Local 2015.

WTF!

Union officials reportedly announced Jackson’s hiring during a member conference call on February 25, 2019. Tasty’s source provides the following details:
His hiring was announced in a member conference call that takes place every Monday. This particular call, on February 25, made no mentioned of his hiring until the end of the call, with no discussion for members. The following week, April Verrett, president of 2015, discussed the hiring of Rickman where several members stated their opposition to his hiring because of what happened with Tyrone. Make no mistake, April did not say what Rickman did and only classified his actions as an error like a clerical mistake, because Rickman signed something he shouldn't have signed. She tried to justify his hiring as part of the union's Restorative Justice agenda, as if Rickman's corruption could compare to racist policies that make millions of people of color criminals rather than Rickman stealing from home care workers. Members were also angry there was no transparency because the executive board did not about this hiring, much less a discussion. April lied when she said the decision to hire Rickman was also because it was hard to find a director for external organizing. She said the union had been looking for 18 months for a director to fill the vacancy but the director had actually left around September 2018. When she was told Rickman had not re-paid the local, she denied this but did not provide any evidence. She said she would provide the evidence at a later time and to the member who asked instead of the general membership.

For those who may have forgotten the details of Rickman’s corruption, reporter Paul Pringle described them in a 2008 Los Angeles Times article that detailed the findings of an investigation led by former state Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp and an SEIU audit.

Freeman steered vast amounts of union money into union-created nonprofit organizations, which then used fake transactions to deposit cash into the pockets of Tyrone and others. One of these nonprofit organizations -- the Long-Term Care Housing Corp -- made lump-sum payments to Freeman while also paying Rickman $2,500 a month to supposedly “lease” Rickman’s personal home to serve as the organization’s offices. All told, Rickman pocketed $33,500 from this scam.

(Paul Pringle, “SEIU accuses local union leader of misusing funds,” Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2008.)

In October of 2008, SEIU stripped Rickman of his position and “exiled” him to Canada while keeping him on payroll. (Paul Pringle, “SEIU leader loses post over scandal,” Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2008.)

What idiot at SEIU would hire someone who stole tens of thousands of dollars from the union’s own hard-working members?

Its mind boggling, right?

SEIU’s leaders are clearly pathetic, but this level of corruption and disdain for its members is shocking even to those of us who’ve waded neck-deep through purple muck and mire for years.

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?