Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dave Regan Wins Reelection with Votes from Just 3% of Union’s Members

Last week, Dave Regan was declared the winner of SEIU-UHW’s internal election after winning the votes of just 3% of SEIU-UHW’s members. 

Of the union’s 86,512 members, Regan received votes from 2,916 members while his two challengers together collected about 1,000 votes.

Here are the vote totals for the election, according to SEIU-UHW’s website:

Total eligible voters: 86,512
Dave Regan: 2,916 votes
Niko Anagnostopoulos: 511 votes
Cartina Price: 469 votes

Regan’s vote totals dropped from approximately 8,000 in 2014 to just 2,916 in 2017. At the same time, Regan’s challengers collected about the same numbers of votes in 2017 as they did in 2014 – approximately 1,000.

In the run-up to the election, Regan campaigned around California by attending monthly steward council meetings at multiple hospitals. Regan’s efforts may have been prompted by the support shown for one of his challengers, a rank-and-file Kaiser Permanente member named Niko Anagnostopoulos who won the unanimous backing of the steward council at his hospital, which is one of Kaiser’ largest.

During his speeches to steward council meetings at Kaiser hospitals, Regan reportedly said he wants to negotiate a 10-year labor contract with Kaiser during the partnership unions’ negotiations next year. In California’s hospital industry, union contracts are typically two to four years in duration.

Interestingly, at St. Francis Medical Center in Los Angeles, Regan’s slate of candidates (the so-called “Healthcare Justice” slate) lost elections for seats on SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board. Independent candidates beat Regan’s slate by more than a two-to-one margin. The 384-bed hospital is part of Verity Health System, formerly the Daughters of Charity Health System.

In 2015, Regan negotiated massive cuts for workers at St. Francis and other Verity hospitals, including freezing workers’ wage scales, eliminating benefits for many part-time workers, and multiple other cuts. Next, Regan used a system of ramrod membership votes to ratify his give-backs to the four-profit company. SEIU-UHW members called Regan’s contract “the worst contracting or history.”

Facebook post by one of Regan's challengers following the vote count.

What’s next?

It’s unclear whether Regan intends to serve out the full three years of his next term of office.

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

As the election approached, however, Regan suddenly declared his candidacy. 

Some observers speculate he ran for reelection because he was concerned that Bensaid could not win a contested election. According to these observers, it’s possible Regan will resign his position during his next term of office so that Bensaid can be appointed by the union’s Executive Board as his successor.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Will Trustees Shed Light on Andy Stern's "Golden Handshake" with Former SEIU Official in Michigan?

With SEIU Healthcare Michigan under an emergency trusteeship due to allegations of financial malpractice, Tasty took a look at the union’s recent financial disclosure reports and discovered some interesting details.

During recent years, the union has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Paul Policicchio, the union’s former president, even though Policicchio resigned his position more than 15 years ago.

According to the union’s annual reports to the US Department Labor (Form LM-2), SEIU Healthcare Michigan has been paying Policicchio $53,400 a year for many years. 

And the payments have continued through 2015, the most recent year for which records are available, even though Policicchio died in 2013.

What are the payments for?

In some years, the union says the payments were for “Consulting Services.” In other years, it describes them as “Retiree Supplement.”

In November of 2013, when Policicchio died at age 63 following a battle with cancer, SEIU Healthcare Michigan began making the $53,400-a-year payments to his wife, according to the records.

For what alleged purpose?

In 2015, SEIU Healthcare Michigan paid her $53,400 for serving as a “Retiree Consultant,” according to the records.

What’s going on?

Tasty’s sources believe these payments are part of a “buyout” engineered by SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern.
Andy Stern

In 1988, Policicchio became the president of Detroit-based SEIU Local 79, the predecessor union of SEIU Healthcare Michigan. He also was named an SEIU International Vice President in Washington, DC.

In 1996, Stern took office as SEIU’s president and reportedly wanted to move Policicchio out of SEIU so he could fill Policicchio’s position with one of Stern’s allies. So Stern allegedly engineered a “buyout” to coax Policicchio out the door. 

In 2001, Policicchio retired from SEIU at age 51 with an SEIU pension and Stern’s fat “golden handshake” in his pocket.

Sources believe Stern’s “buyout” likely included a “gag clause” that barred Policicchio from saying anything bad about Stern, SEIU or the buyout.

So just how big was Stern’s alleged “golden handshake?”

Hard to say.

But perhaps Mary Kay Henry and her trustees -- Tom Balanoff, Inga Skippings, and Ed Burke -- can take a look at SEIU Healthcare Michigan's books and shed some light on this six-figure, purple-hued mystery. Inquiring minds want to know. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Corruption Allegations Prompt Mary Kay Henry to Put SEIU Healthcare Michigan in Trusteeship

Notice of trusteeship posted on door of union's office
Last month, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry placed SEIU Healthcare Michigan under an “emergency trusteeship” amid allegations of financial malpractice, according to a statement from SEIU that’s posted on the local union’s website. A copy of the trusteeship order, signed by Henry, is available below.

Henry removed Marge Faville Robinson, the union’s president, who is also a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board.

Later this month, an SEIU-appointed “Hearing Officer” is scheduled to conduct a hearing where evidence will be presented about alleged corruption and improprieties.

Here’s how SEIU described the rationale behind the trusteeship in a post on SEIU Healthcare Michigan’s website. Apparently, an unknown whistleblower reported the alleged corruption. (“SEIU Healthcare Michigan Placed into Emergency Trusteeship”)
After someone with knowledge of the local reported potential financial malpractice at Healthcare Michigan, representatives of the International Union conducted a review of the local union’s books and records and found information indicating abuse of the local union’s loan and paid time off/earned vacation policy. Following this review, President Henry concluded that it was necessary to place the local into an emergency trusteeship to protect the interests of members and to allow for a full investigation to determine all the facts.

“An SEIU spokeswoman declined to comment on whether police were involved in the investigation,” according to an article published by MLive, an online news site operated by Booth Newspapers, which publishes eight newspapers in the state of Michigan. (Stephen Kloosterman, “'Financial malpractice' alleged at Michigan healthcare union,” MLive, February 22, 2017)

In comments to a Detroit TV station, Inga Skippings (Mary Kay Henry’s Chief of Staff) stated that President Marge Faville Robinson and Secretary-Treasurer Shalaya Bryant were removed from their positions while SEIU officials investigate.
"The union took steps to bring in trustees at the local and launch a pretty expansive investigation into what could have been going on here," Skippings said.
The union says a whistleblower came forward telling representatives to look at the books leading to claims of abuse of finances specifically in the union's loan and vacation policy.
"There was initial work done to suss out the credibility before we took the action we did," Skippings said.
The union won't give a dollar amount, but clearly it was enough evidence to warrant both Robinson and Bryant being removed from their position while the union looks at how long and how deep this potential fraud goes.

Henry appointed three SEIU officials to serve as trustees: Tom Balanoff (President of SEIU Local 1), Inga Skippings (Henry’s Chief of Staff) and Ed Burke (a consultant who formerly was an SEIU staff member).

Regular readers of this blog know that Faville Robinson is no stranger to controversy. In fact, allegations of nepotism and corruption have swirled about her like detritus in a toilet bowl.

For example, Faville Robinson collects an unusually fat salary from SEIU Healthcare Michigan despite the fact that the union’s membership has nose-dived from 57,239 members in 2009 to only 10,715 members in 2015. In 2015, the union paid Faville Robinson $209,889, according to the union’s annual report filed with the US Department of Labor.

The union also happens to employ Marge’s daughter and niece. In 2015, the union paid her daughter, Norma Kersting, $108,336 for being its “Director of Representation.” Meanwhile, Marge’s niece (Brenda Robinson) was paid $110,679 to be the union’s “Legal Director.” It used to employ her son, Josh, too.

In 2011, the union provided Marge with a union-paid Buick SUV. According to the union’s most recent annual report, it appears the union has continued to give her a swank car. Here’s what a note to the report states: “A vehicle provided to an Officer is used part of the time for personal transportation.”

Several years ago, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) -- an advocate of rank-and-file democracy and union transparency -- reported that SEIU Healthcare Michigan was renting a luxury apartment for Marge’s use when she traveled to Detroit.

In 2015, SEIU Healthcare Michigan received a flood of cash when it sold four buildings and properties for $2.3 million, according to reports filed with the Department of Labor.

Faville Robinson has served as the union’s president since 2008.
Andy Stern and Mary Kay Henry

In October 2008, SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern appointed her to the union’s presidency after her predecessor, Rickman Jackson, was removed from office when the Los Angeles Times revealed he’d stolen more than $33,000 from low-wage homecare workers as part of the Tyrone Freeman corruption scandal.

Stern appointed Jackson and Freeman to their positions atop SEIU locals, where they served as his loyal allies while stealing from SEIU’s members. Jackson, despite his corruption, continues on the payroll of SEIU International, where he collected $138,000 as a “Campaign Organizing Director” during 2015.

In addition to her roles at the local union and SEIU’s International Executive Board, Faville Robinson also served as the President of the “Cassie Stern Healthcare Workers Education and Training Center.” Rickman Jackson named the center for Andy Stern’s deceased daughter.

In 2010, the Cassie Stern Training Center was dissolved by state officials while Faville Robinson served as its president, according to IRS records.

SEIU Healthcare Michigan is the third SEIU local union to be placed in trusteeship or under "monitorship" in recent months. 

In August of 2016, SEIU imposed an emergency trusteeship on SEIU Local 73 in Chicago. In December of 2016, Mary Kay Henry remove the president of Los Angeles-based SEIU Local 99 and placed the union under the control of an SEIU-appointed monitor, Eliseo Medina. In October of 2016, SEIU's International Executive Board held two days of hearings in Las Vegas, Nevada to investigate charges filed against the top officials of SEIU Healthcare Nevada.

More news to follow.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Verity Health Workers: “Why did SEIU-UHW give away our health insurance, sick pay, and retirement benefits and freeze our pay scales?”

Nearly 2,000 workers at a chain of California hospitals are asking why SEIU-UHW officials agreed to freeze their pay scale and give away health insurance, vacation, sick pay, retirement benefits, and other benefits during contract negotiations with the company’s top executives.

Workers are angry, say Tasty’s sources, after NUHW recently negotiated a contract with the same company, Verity Health System, but didn’t accept any of the cuts negotiated by SEIU-UHW officials.

NUHW’s contract, ratified in December, covers workers at two of the company’s six hospitals. SEIU-UHW represents workers at the company’s remaining four hospitals.

Here’s what happened.

In November 2015, Dave Regan and other SEIU-UHW officials negotiated massive cuts for SEIU-UHW’s approximately 2,000 members at Verity Health System, formerly known as the Daughters of Charity Health System. SEIU-UHW represents workers at O’Connor Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital, St. Francis Medical Center, and St. Vincent Medical Center.

During negotiations, Regan agreed to freeze workers’ wage scales and to eliminate a whole range of benefits -- including health insurance, vacation pay, sick pay, and retirement benefits -- for hundreds of SEIU-UHW’s members who work part time at the hospitals.

As far as the benefit cuts, Regan agreed to change the contract’s so-called “benefit eligibility standard” so that part-time workers must now work at least 30 hours a week, instead of 20 hours a week, to be eligible for health insurance, sick pay, vacation pay, etc.

Regan also agreed to eliminate float differentials and short-call pay, cut Paid Time Off (PTO) accruals, eliminate “Jury Duty Leave” and “Education Leave,” eliminate future Extended Sick Leave accruals, as well as multiple other cuts. Regan also accepted the elimination of retiree health benefits for all employees at St. Louise Regional Hospital and O'Connor Hospital, according to a copy of the deal.

SEIU-UHW members called Regan’s contract “the worst contract in our history.”

To add insult to injury, Regan jammed the wage freeze and benefit cuts down workers’ throats by using ramrod ratification votes.
Dave Regan, SEIU-UHW
Two months later, approximately 650 workers at two Verity hospitals (Seton Medical Center and Seton Coastside Hospital) began their own negotiations with Verity officials after decertifying SEIU-UHW and voting to join NUHW.

With NUHW, workers successfully fought off all of management’s benefit cuts and won increases of 3% per year to workers’ wage scales during each year of the three-year contract. In addition, NUHW members won one-time “equity” pay increases of up to 12%.

Across California, Regan and SEIU-UHW have a well-documented history of cutting backroom deals with hospital CEOs to gut workers’ pay, benefits, and working conditions. Now, at the Verity hospitals, Regan’s dirty deeds have produced a lopsided outcome for employees who do the same work just miles apart. SEIU-UHW members, working 40 miles away from their NUHW counterparts, now receive vastly inferior benefits from the same company.  

Regan’s cuts offer another jarring contradiction.

SEIU officials have rightfully criticized Trump’s effort to cut health coverage under the Medicaid Program and the Affordable Care Act. So, ummm, why did one of SEIU’s top officials – Dave Regan – agree to eliminate health coverage for hundreds of SEIU’s own members without any kind of fight?

And while we’re on the topic of contradictions, why did Regan ink his sell-out deal with Verity, a company controlled by New York hedge fund BlueMountain Capital?

So much for SEIU’s fight against the 1% and the billionaire class, who are pocketing unprecedented profits while US workers struggle to pay rent and put food on the table.

Monday, February 27, 2017

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan Loses (Again) to Hospital Association

Dave Regan’s winless streak is now even longer.

On February 17, 2017, an appeals court in California slapped down Regan’s latest legal airball. 

Regan filed the suit last month, just days after a Sacramento County Superior Court judge tossed out Regan’s personal lawsuit against the California Hospital Association (CHA) over his secret “partnership” deal with the CHA.

In response to the judge's action, Regan decided to sue the entire Sacramento County Superior Court in a case called “Regan, etc. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County.”

In the suit, Regan implored the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District to block the judge’s ruling that requires “Wall Street” Dave to undergo yet another round of “binding arbitration” over alleged violations of his secret deal with the CHA.

This time, it took the court only 17 days to whack Regan’s wobbly three-point attempt into the 17th row, according to court records. A copy of the one-sentence decision is below.

What’s next?

It looks like Regan, president of SEIU-UHW, and his erstwhile paramour, Duane Dauner (CEO of the CHA), will soon be perched on the witness stand where they can exchange wistful sighs and furtive glances.

More drama for Dave and Duane.

Stay tuned.

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.