Friday, December 8, 2017

Governors Debate Showcases Opposing Fortunes of Two California Unions


Here’s an interesting development that underscores the declining political power of SEIU-UHW and the rising strength of NUHW.

Readers may recall that SEIU-UHW and its president, Dave Regan, have been repeatedly criticized for using California’s ballot system to cut sweetheart deals with the California Hospital Association that sell out consumers and workers. 

In local elections, Regan has joined hands with the Chamber of Commerce to attack progressive candidates.

Well... check out the latest chapter in this story.

Next year, the Golden State will elect a new governor to replace Jerry Brown, who will be termed out of office. Candidates for the governor’s office -- including the state’s Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the former mayor of Los Angeles -- are criss-crossing the nation’s most populous state to build support for their campaigns.

In October, SEIU-UHW and NUHW each held their annual “Leadership Conferences” of stewards and rank-and-file leaders. 

NUHW pulled off a coup by organizing the four leading gubernatorial candidates to conduct their first-ever debate at NUHW’s leadership conference in Anaheim. Here's a link to a video of the debate.

NUHW’s debate drew reporters from across the state and got more than 100 new stories in the state’s largest newspapers, TV stations, etc. NUHW also live-streamed the debate to voters across the state, which featured questions about the candidates' support for a single-payer health system.

What about SEIU-UHW?  

Nada.

Stay tuned!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Jury Awards $8.5 Million Verdict to Staffer Fired after Blowing Whistle on SEIU’s Failed Representation


Over the years, Tasty has reported on SEIU-UHW’s repeated failures to enforce its own labor contracts and defend union members against their bosses.

Remember the Kaiser worker who sued SEIU-UHW for failing to defend her against the allegedly meth-smoking manager who fired her? Or the SEIU-UHW official who simply sat on her hands while Kaiser Permanente fired a worker with 33 years on the job? Or the SEIU-UHW member from Dignity Health who sued SEIU-UHW in federal court alleging that SEIU-UHW officials failed to enforce the union’s own labor contract and instead allowed the hospital to fire her.

Well, here’s an interesting story about a similar kind of failed representation at SEIU Local 721, which represents 90,000 public-sector workers in the Los Angeles region.

On November 24, a California jury awarded an $8.5 million verdict against SEIU Local 721 for wrongfully terminating one of the union’s own staff members after he revealed to Local 721 officials a backlog of more than 600 arbitration cases that had been filed by members but weren’t being handled. He alleged that Local 721 falsified records to cover up the massive backlog.

The staffer, Talbert Mitchell, worked as the union’s “Advocacy Coordinator” and had been on staff for 21 years. According to his lawyers, after Mitchell directed an internal report revealing the massive backlog of arbitration cases and following his medical leave for a hernia surgery, Mitchell was wrongfully terminated.

The jury agreed with Mitchell, finding he was the victim of whistleblower retaliation, disability discrimination, medical leave discrimination, and wrongful termination. The jury awarded him a $2.4 million verdict and an additional $6.1 million in punitive damages.

(Don’t count the money yet, as these kinds of verdicts can shrink on appeal.)

A former member of SEIU Local 721 said the staffer’s description of failed representation is consistent with his experience. Here’s what he told Tasty in an e-mail:
Many employee grievances were mishandled (on the union side, once responsibility of the grievance handling was transferred from the steward to the Local) -- time frames were overlooked resulting in many management denials and many more were lost after they were allegedly transferred to the County's Human Resources Department for a higher level of possible adjudication called Arbitration.  Were the union staff set up for failure by being given unmanageable caseloads or did the executive staff of the Local just not care in representing it's members?  Another question for the members to consider is where does anyone think this award money, to pay Mr. Talbert Mitchell, will come from.  Why will no one at the Local 721 be charged mush less dismissed because of gross incompetence and/or administrative mismanagement?

As for Talbert Mitchell, the former Local 721 staffer, here’s what his lawyers said in a November 28 press release:
“Due to his disability, needing medical leave, and his reporting of conduct he thought was illegal and which adversely affected union member rights, he became the target of his superiors and ultimately was terminated with a fabricated story," said Carney Shegerian, Mitchell's trial lawyer. "Talbert was morally treated wrong by his employer and superiors, and today a California jury of his peers announced that treatment was not only just illegal, but punishable."

For more information about the jury verdict, here’s a news story:

Toni McAllister, “Jury awards Lynwood whistleblower $2.63 million, punished for exposing union’s wrongdoing,” City News Service, November 24, 2017.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

SEIU-UHW Member: ‘I’m disgusted. This is what happened to me.”


Tasty got the following e-mail from a longtime rank-and-file leader and shop steward at SEIU-UHW, who says s/he recently walked away from all involvement in the union because of its huge internal problems.

I am an avid reader and fan of your blog. I just knew I had to drop you a line after I read the Marcus Hatcher firing post.
I once upon a time was a labor leader within SEIU-UHW and held various leadership positions as a steward and… over [many years]. I [recently] walked away from all labor involvement. I resigned due to the behaviors you have spotlighted. I spoke out in my area for a long time about the unethical, racist, sexist, and outright disgusting behaviors that were openly acceptable within the Union. I was targeted at work and home for speaking out. I have been so disgusted by my Union's lack of leadership and shady financial dealings that for the 1st time in years of employment I became a fee payer in objection. Many of my coworkers felt the same, and also became beck objectors.
I have a paper trail with lots of tasty treats showing the harassment I went through for speaking the truth and calling out bad leaders. (car door keyed, followed/chased home, harassed on the unit multiple times by organizers, home egged, police reports, etc) Sadly, I know I am not the only member who was targeted and harassed for not blindly following and openly questioning corrupt, inept, and unethical labor "leaders", and what they do with our hard earned money. Also, please know that this destructive and greedy leadership mentality within the Union, is not just contained within UHW. This is a culture also existing within our good ole Coalition of KP Unions, as well as the half assed (and quite frankly embarrassing) Labor Management Partnership. I have witnessed and experienced many things in working directly with these people. It is 100% why I walked away and will never support any of these entities again. Your blogs are wonderful and hitting ALL the truth points!
I just would like to say, THANK YOU THANK YOU and THANK YOU for posting the truth and exposing for front-line members and others what really goes on at the purple palace! A lot of us have known for many years just how real and very serious these actions by leadership have been. There are so many people that have been terrorized and victimized by these people over the years. I can only hope that this validation brings some hope for accountability, change, and healing for those harmed by those who abused their titles and power. I knew many within the Union that turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the well known predatory and discriminatory actions of leadership in order to protect their cush, overpaid jobs. Shame on all of them!!
Goodbye and good riddance to egomaniacs like Marcus Hatcher and Mindy Sturge and any others involved! Hope this is the start of a domino effect and more firings are in the works. It's long overdue to expose the truths about just how widespread the greed, self entitlement, and frat boy pay to play mentalities that exist and are very much happening in SEIU UHW.  - the overpaid salaries and benefits for these people that members pay for, and have shoved down our throats as the exemplary great Gods of the Union we should all be honored and expected to worship....(insert total sarcasm ;) 
You are a voice for members like myself who can't openly say these things for fear of more retaliation and terror for speaking out.

In reading this member’s account, you get a taste of the toxic culture that President Dave Regan has brewed inside SEIU-UHW… including sexual misconduct by top officials, overpaid and unaccountable union officials, and a culture that targets internal critics with harassment, bullying and even physical attacks.

Tasty is reminded of many earlier posts about Regan’s “old school ways,” SEIU-UHW staffers’ shout-downs designed to intimidate its own members, “World War III” strategies, attacks against labor legend Dolores Huerta, death threats targeting the union’s own members, and Regan’s infamous physical assault against a process server in 2016.

If SEIU’s top officials sincerely want to reform their union and make it democratic and accountable to workers, they need to fix these problems.  Now!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sources Describe Fallout at SEIU-UHW over Sexual Misconduct Scandal


According to Tasty’s sources, here’s what’s happening inside SEIU-UHW following this week's firing of Marcus Hatcher, a top union official, over his alleged affairs with three members of the union’s Executive Board:

SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan held an “emergency conference call” with Executive Board members who work at Kaiser Permanente. During the call, Regan described the circumstances surrounding Hatcher’s firing. 

Until just days ago, Hatcher was the director of SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division and also served on the union’s Executive Committee.

Yesterday, following the publication of Tasty’s blog post about Hatcher’s firing, Regan convened a meeting of top union staffers and members of the Executive Committee. Sources describe the meeting, which included discussion of the sexual misconduct and “the overall culture” inside SEIU-UHW, as “intense and emotional.”

During the meeting, rank-and-file members of the Executive Committee suggested that the union hire a third-party expert to conduct an independent investigation into these issues. Top union staffers reportedly said they “take these problems seriously,” but the Executive Committee’s rank-and-file members left the meeting feeling concerned that “this is all lip service” in response to the current bad PR and “that no real investigation will take place.”

Interestingly, sources also report that a second staffer, Mindy Sturge, was fired this week soon after Marcus Hatcher got axed. Sturge, a longtime manager at the union, currently works as a “Coordinator III” in the Organizing Department and formerly served as an Assistant Director in the Hospital Division. At this point, it’s unclear why she was fired, although the timing of her firing is raising eyebrows inside SEIU-UHW.

Press: “SEIU Manager Sexually Assaulted Staffer Then Was Rehired at Another SEIU Local”


As revelations emerged about the termination of a top SEIU-UHW official over sexual misconduct, a second story hit the press about another SEIU-UHW staffer allegedly involved in sexual harassment and assault.

In 2014, Pedro Malave was removed from his job as the Assistant Director at SEIU 32BJ Local 615 in Boston over sexual assaults against a female co-worker, according to journalist Mike Elk writing in Payday Report. (Mike Elk, “SEIU Manager Sexually Assaulted Staffer Then Was Rehired at Another SEIU Local,” Payday Report)

The following year, however, officials at SEIU-UHW hired him into a management position as a “Coordinator,” according to records from the Department of Labor. Later, he went on to work at another California local, SEIU United Service Workers West.

Today, Payday Report announced that SEIU United Service Workers West has fired Malave in the wake of the publication's first article. (Mike Elk, “SEIU Fires Staffer Who Sexually Assaulted Another Staffer Following Payday Investigation,” Payday Report)

Elk’s initial article includes detailed quotes from Malave’s victim, an Administrative Coordinator at the Boston union. After one assault, in which Malave attempted to masturbate in her face, she said the following about her work life:
"I felt anxious and nauseous most of the time. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to see him face-to-face. I didn't want to have him look at me. I just felt disgusted by the situation and the anxiety grew around the fact that it was likely going to happen on a daily basis, considering my job role at the union."

The article continues:
Later in 2015, [the Administrative Coordinator] would discover that Malave would go on to get a job with SEIU again as an organizer with SEIU United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) in California. Since then, Malave has moved on to work as a regional field coordinator for a separate SEIU local, SEIU United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW).
 Neither SEIU-USWW or SEIU-UHW returned Payday’s requests for comment.

In the article, the Administrative Coordinator expresses special frustration about Malave’s rehiring by SEIU locals after being removed for sexual assault.
Malave was able to obtain this work despite repeated efforts by [the Administrative Coordinator] and others in her Boston local to ensure that Malave would have a permanent record placed in his file so that he could never work again for SEIU.
“More than being upset about what happened with Pedro, I was really frustrated with how SEIU handled the situation,” [she said]. 

She is now part of an effort of current and past SEIU staffers “who are launching a campaign to pressure SEIU to take more concrete steps to prevent sexual harassment and assault,” says the article. “The organizers have launched an email address metooseiu@gmail.com and encourage women to contact them confidentially to share their stories and organize against sexual harassment and assault.”

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Source: Top SEIU-UHW Official Fired over Sexual Misconduct


Marcus Hatcher, a top officer at SEIU-UHW and a close confidant of Dave Regan, was fired during the past 48 hours due to sexual misconduct, according to sources inside the union based in Oakland, California.

Hatcher was the Director of SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division and was also a member of the union’s governing board and the board’s Executive Committee. He formerly served as the union’s “Director of Representational Excellence.”

Here’s what one source reports:

At a recent meeting of the union’s Executive Board, a dispute erupted among three female board members who are each “intimately involved” with Hatcher. One of the women then reported the incident to Triana Silton, a staffer at SEIU-UHW.

During the past 48 hours, Hatcher was terminated, according to a second source.

According to the first source, Hatcher is not the only SEIU-UHW official who has had sexual affairs with staffers and members. The source writes:
That being said....Chokri [Bensaid] and Dave [Regan] are and have been perpetrators of the same conduct. Sleeping around with staff and members. Abusing their power.
Marcus, Chokri and Dave would all fraternize outside of work. This is well known and documented.  Birds of a feather flock together.
Dave Regan is the president of SEIU-UHW and a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board. Chokri Bensaid is the director of SEIU-UHW’s Hospital Division and a member of both the union’s Executive Board and its Executive Committee.

In 2016, these three individuals ranked among the highest-paid officials at SEIU-UHW, according to records filed with the US Department of Labor: Dave Regan ($224,706), Chokri Bensaid ($152,860), and Marcus Hatcher ($126,011).

For many years, multiple reports have swirled around Dave Regan and his alleged affairs with both staffers and members of the unions that he has directed, including both SEIU-UHW and SEIU 1199 Ohio Kentucky West Virginia. At the latter union, for example, he allegedly had an affair with one of the members of the union’s Executive Board. At SEIU-UHW, staffers and board members have alleged, for example, that he had an affair with a staffer in the union’s Hospital Division.
SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

Given the reports of sexual misconduct by at least several top SEIU-UHW officials, one staffer asks why the union has only taken action against Marcus Hatcher, who is African-American and has less power in SEIU-UHW’s hierarchy than Regan and Bensaid. The staffer, referring to Regan, Bensaid and Hatcher, writes:
But when their maleable bodies started sweating amidst the sexual harrasement spotlight.....the only Black Director of the Local was chosen to be the sacrifice for the sins of many.
Interestingly, the staffer reports that “there are plenty more stories” of sexual misconduct inside SEIU-UHW that haven’t yet reached the public light.

Friday, November 10, 2017

SEIU’s Tyrone Freeman: Entrepreneur of the Year



Since Tasty’s recent post about Tyrone Freeman, several readers have spotted him in Los Angeles.

What’s Ty up to these days?

Well, it looks like he’s taken a page out of Andy Stern’s “entrepreneurial” playbook.

Freeman, who formerly headed the nation’s largest union of homecare workers (SEIU Local 6434), is now running a consulting firm to help homecare companies make more profit.

No joke.



Tyrone’s firm is called Maven Innovative Consultancy, LLC. The company’s homepage has images like this:
  

And this:


But wait a sec. Tasty thought Tyrone wanted to defend workers?

Nope.

His website says,
“Mr. Freeman specializes in the defense of small business, in the full range of business matters, including advising business owners. In addition, Mr. Freeman is an Executive with substantial business development, management/leadership experience. High premium on providing cost saving management practices… operational cost saving… Maven Innovative Consultancy, LLC – a boutique consulting firm specializing in the exclusive representation of management in business affairs. A large portion of the Firm’s clients are home care agencies and other health-care related employers.”



Tyrone says he’s a “specialist” in “housing development strategies.”

That’s interesting.

When Freeman was the president of SEIU Local 6434 and also a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board, he set up a housing scam that helped land him in jail.

In 2004, Freeman set up a nonprofit housing organization called the “Long Term Care Housing Corp” to supposedly build housing for low-income workers.

Only… it didn’t.

Freeman, who controlled the organization, listed the home of one of his aides, Rickman Jackson, as the organization’s administrative office. Ty then paid Jackson tens of thousands of dollars in “rent,” which Jackson pocketed.

Btw, despite stealing $33,000 from workers, Jackson is still on SEIU’s payroll to this day.

That’s not all.

Freeman also had the housing organization hire him as a “consultant” and pay him tens of thousands of dollars of the in consulting fees, according to an SEIU report described by the Los Angeles Times. (Paul Pringle, “Union-founded nonprofit spent zero on its charitable purpose in two years,” Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2008)

In other words, Freeman is quite an expert in “housing development strategies.”

Which brings us to the elephant in the room.

Why did SEIU’s top officials reportedly devise a scheme to secretly fund Freeman’s legal defense after he was indicted in February 2012 for stealing millions of dollars from SEIU’s own members?

In 2008 -- after the Los Angeles Times published a series of revelations about Freeman’s corruption (remember the Grand Havana Room cigar club?) -- SEIU officials ousted Freeman, banned him for life from SEIU membership, and ordered him to pay back more than $1 million in money he stole from SEIU’s members.

Tasty bets dollars to donuts that Freeman never paid back the $1 million.

So… why the f*ck did SEIU officials secretly give him six and seven figures to fund his criminal defense?

What role did Andy Stern play in the secret payments? What about Mary Kay Henry? She became president of SEIU on May 8, 2010 and presumably was involved in funding Freeman’s legal defense until his appeal was dismissed in October 2014.

SEIU officials are struggling with the union’s widening sexual harassment scandal. They also need to investigate the massive ethical questions swirling around the Freeman scandal. For example, did SEIU officials commit conflict-of-interest violations by diverting SEIU cash to Freeman in order to buy his silence about their involvement in his crimes?

Workers have enough problems with greedy bosses and corrupt politicians. They deserve democratic, transparent and accountable unions. It's time for SEIU to come clean.