What happened at this week’s "kickoff” of labor negotiations between Kaiser Permanente and the "partnership unions”?
Well… there wasn't any actual "bargaining."
After a three-day weekend of prancing around Disneyland with Kaiser execs, the partnership unions spent Monday and Tuesday in a "bargaining kickoff.” On Monday, Kaiser’s execs and union officials made speeches interspersed with "Instant Recesses” and "Thrive Activities" to keep participants awake.
On Tuesday, the unions were trained on how to do “interest-based bargaining.”
As far as speeches, sources say Chuck Columbus (Senior VP and Chief Human Resources Officer for Kaiser) was the first speaker and offered a gloom-and-doom picture about the vague, but very dangerous, "challenges" lurking in Kaiser’s future.
Don’t trust Chuck.
He formerly served as the VP of Human Resources at Ford Motor Co., where he eliminated the defined-benefit pension plan for new hires and forced them into a 401(k) plan. He also implemented a two-tiered wage system that pays new Ford employees only half as much as regular employees. This pushed Ford’s profits through the roof.
In 2009, Kaiser's then-CEO George Halvorson and COO Bernard Tyson recruited Columbus to do the same thing at Kaiser… with the assistance of SEIU’s newly implanted trustee from the East Coast, Dave Regan.
A year ago, Regan and Columbus gave a joint presentation to the California Public Employees Retirement System where Regan talked about cutting workers’ benefits if they don't meet the requirements of Kaiser's wellness program. You can see a video of Regan's comments on this earlier post.
At Monday's meeting, Columbus (who earns $1.5 million a year at Kaiser) told workers about the vague challenges facing Kaiser in the future, but forgot to mention one of the biggest challenges -- where to stash Kaiser's billions of profits. Last year alone, Kaiser pocketed profits of $3.1 billion.
Kaiser's Ray Baxter spoke about Kaiser's corporate wellness program, which has been "re-branded" as "Total Health.”
Another speech had this intriguing title: "One KP.”
A bevy of bloviating fatcats took the stage including Dennis Dabney (Senior VP of Labor Relations and Labor Management Partnership for Kaiser), Jim Pruitt (VP of Labor Management Partnership and Labor Relations for The Permanente Federation), Artie Southam (Executive VP of Kaiser’s Health Plan Operations), Hal Ruddick (Executive Director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions), and Dave Regan.
Lastly, here's a development that speaks volumes about the partnership bargaining. According to Kaiser workers in Northern California, Kaiser is currently laying off SEIU-UHW members with the assistance of SEIU-UHW officials.
At Kaiser Vallejo Medical Center in Northern California, SEIU-UHW members with as many as 30 years of seniority are receiving layoff notices. They say workers are getting layoff notices without regard to seniority lists. And workers say SEIU-UHW is totally AWOL... even after workers make phone calls and send e-mails to Union Reps and SEIU-UHW’s headquarters in Oakland.
Again... these layoffs are happening as bargaining is underway. And as Kaiser's profits and membership are booming.
In the boss's pocket.