On January 31, a federal judge issued an 11-page decision that slammed Kaiser Permanente for giving illegal support to SEIU-UHW during the two giant NLRB elections between SEIU-UHW and NUHW in 2010 and 2013.
Why did Kaiser throw its support behind Dave Regan and SEIU-UHW? Here’s what the judge writes in his decision:
A reasonable trier of fact could find that Kaiser wanted to keep the old, soft union with whom it could ‘do business’ and defeat the new, tough union that planned to protect the workers more aggressively. (p. 6)
Remember… these are the words of a federal judge!
The judge’s ruling stems from NUHW’s 2010 lawsuit alleging that Kaiser violated a provision of federal law called Section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act. This anti-corruption law prohibits a company's officials from giving money or other kinds of assistance to the company's union or the union’s officials.
The idea is that such “donations” of money allow fatcat company execs to buy the loyalties of corrupt union officials, who then sell out the union's members at the worksite and the bargaining table.
Sound familiar, SEIU-UHW members?
In this case, NUHW alleges that Kaiser “gifted” hundreds of thousands of dollars to SEIU-UHW by paying for all of the benefits (health insurance, pension, sick time, vacation time, etc) of SEIU-UHW’s lost-timers while they campaigned against NUHW during the NLRB elections.
Here's an excerpt from the judge's decision from pp. 5-6. The full decision is below. The judge, by issuing the decision, officially tossed out Kaiser's effort to short-circuit NUHW’s lawsuit, thereby allowing the suit to move towards a full trial.
The gravamen of this lawsuit is that under [the Labor Management Relations Act] Section 302, it was unlawful for Kaiser to pay benefits to, or lend money to, its lost-timer employees, while such representatives were “under the complete direction and control of SEIU-UHW and not Kaiser,” and were campaigning against NUHW, a rival union, in connection with a union election…
[H]ere we have a scenario in which the employer has given aid and comfort to one union with whom it is friendly in its fight to stave off a second, rival union from seeking to represent the workers — or so a reasonable trier of fact could find on this record.
Section 302 is an anti-corruption provision intended to prevent acts such as bribery of
employee representatives by employers…
Kaiser allegedly exponentially increased the number of lost-timers in order to sway the
election. NUHW presents evidence that the number of lost-timers asking for reimbursements during the 2010 election was over 160. [Tasty’s note: After the elections, the number of Lost-Timers dropped to just four per year, according to Kaiser’s court filings.]
While a factual dispute remains as to how many lost-timers campaigned, it is undisputed that SEIU-UHW substantially boosted their numbers before each critical election…
The lost-timers worked completely under SEIU-UHW’s direction and provided no legitimate service to Kaiser. In fact, the only logical benefit to Kaiser in flooding the campaign with lost-timers working for SEIU-UHW would be the defeat of NUHW, a union that Kaiser allegedly feared and disfavored.
A reasonable trier of fact could find that Kaiser wanted to keep the old, soft union with whom it could “do business” and defeat the new, tough union that planned to protect the workers more aggressively. Domination or interference with the formation or administration of a union is precisely one of the evils the LMRA was designed to prevent.