|SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan|
Board minutes from recent meetings of SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board appear to indicate that Dave Regan is on the defensive inside his own union for his failures at the bargaining table and his wasting of more than $30 million on a ballot initiative strategy that’s produced few gains for the union’s members.
At SEIU-UHW’s recent board meetings, Regan was forced to make belabored arguments to defend his so-called “ballot-initiative strategy,” according to the minutes (see below). At the meetings, Regan seems to tell workers: “No, please, trust me. This is really going to work.”
What’s causing the growing distrust of Regan?
Since parachuting into California, Regan has sharply cut resources for worker organizing and on-the-job representation of SEIU-UHW's members. The union has conducted virtually zero strikes since Regan was appointed in 2009… even though hospital companies have imposed wage freezes and massive benefit cuts on tens of thousands of SEIU-UHW’s members and their families.
Instead, Regan has embraced a strategy of cozying up to CEOs via backroom deals that sell out workers, for example as he famously did several times with the Daughters of Charity Health System/Verity Health and Dignity Health.
And when Regan’s business-friendly approach wasn’t successful in opening up organizing opportunities to expand the union’s membership rolls, Regan poured more than $30 million into a top-down, ballot-initiative strategy run by union technocrats aimed at pressuring the California Hospital Association to sign a secret partnership deal with him.
Under the partnership deal, corporations would have given Regan the right to unionize up to 60,000 California workers in exchange for bans on worker strikes, gag clauses, and pre-negotiated labor contracts that forced workers to accept stripped-down wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Initially, some hospital executives signed on to Regan’s partnership plan. Later, however, they kicked Regan to the curb like a two-bit punk.
So… Dollar Dave is now facing internal pressure.
In 2014, Regan famously told NBC News that worker organizing and strikes are obsolete remnants of “19th century unionism.” Instead, Dollar Dave favors “collaboration” and “teamwork” with the same corporations that have gotten richer than at any time since the 1930s by systematically cutting workers’ pay, benefits, and working conditions.
Here’s an excerpt from SEIU-UHW's board minutes (June 2016) that hint at Regan’s belabored attempts to defend his failed strategy. Although Regan speaks about "strike lines" below, the union hasn't conducted a strike in years and appears to be incapable of doing so.
Employers like Dignity [Health] are trying to cut our pay and benefits, expand non-union into clinics, and our challenge is to build enough power to stop those cuts and reverse them. We need to fight differently on the battlefield and go beyond only fighting at the bargaining table and on the strike line. One strategy is through ballot initiatives. This is a long-term strategy that puts more of the risk on the employers, instead of on us… Our strategy of using ballot initiatives has worked successfully in the past… and it is a sound strategy for the future.
The fact that Regan is forced to defend his “strategy” at SEIU-UHW 's Executive Board -- which is filled with his supporters -- is an indication of just badly he's failed.