|John August and Dave Regan|
It turns out that last week, the "partnership unions" -- the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions -- held a "delegates conference" in San Jose, California where Dave Regan and other union officials described their plans for the bargaining. One of the delegates sent along some clips of speeches by Regan and John August. August is a former SEIU official who now heads the Coalition of Kaiser Unions and is the lead negotiator for the bargaining with Kaiser.
So what's SEIU's plan for upcoming negotiations? According to a delegate: "Here's what's clear from the meeting. Regan and John August have already cut a deal with Kaiser to cut our benefits. And now they're trying to get the members to accept their deal."
The delegate describes how Regan and August started the meeting by feeding the delegates tons of gloom-and-doom about the U.S. economy, unemployment, etc. Of course, Regan and August conveniently forgot to tell the delegates that Kaiser is making record profits of $5.6 billion, gives eight separate pensions to each of its top executives, and handed CEO George Halvorson a $1 million pay increase last year.
Regan then proceeded to tell the Kaiser workers that they’re overpaid… and that Kaiser wants to take away their benefits. Check out this one-minute clip from Regan's speech.
At this point, Regan starts to “sell” the delegates on his idea of “getting in front of Kaiser’s cuts” by having workers preemptively offer to cut their own benefits so as to improve Kaiser's cost structure! Regan delivers his sales-pitch in a tough-guy voice, telling delegates that the partnership unions need to “call Kaiser to a higher place.” So what’s this “higher place?” Regan explains that it’s an expanded Wellness Program for Kaiser employees that he calls, “Let’s Get Healthy Kaiser.” (Tasty is not kidding.)
In a hint at the Wellness wonders to come, Regan describes the kinds of benefit cuts that other workers are facing: “If you're overweight, you pay 10% more for your health care. If you smoke, you pay 20% more. If you do this or that, you pay more. That's what's going on out there.”
And that's not all... Regan says his Wellness cuts are just one of "the 4 or 5 things” that workers need to give up to Kaiser. It's not clear what the others are. And, in a clear indication of SEIU's plan to sell out its members, Regan offers no plan whatsoever to the delegates for fighting Kaiser’s takeaways. In fact, Regan says SEIU can’t go to the bargaining table and simply say “No” to Kaiser’s cuts.
After Regan finishes his speech, his tag-team partner, John August, takes the mic and tells the delegates that the Coalition's "Executive Committee" has already approved Regan's plan. August then starts channeling Andy Stern, telling delegates about the need to be a “21st century union..." which basically translates into selling out the members. According to one delegate's account: “You know it's total bullshit when union leaders start telling us we need to be ‘innovative’ and ‘transformational.’ When they start using those words, the bullshit meter in my head starts exploding.”