Friday, May 26, 2017

San Diego Workers Vote to Decertify SEIU

Last week, 386 municipal workers in the City of Chula Vista (the 2nd largest city in the San Diego metropolitan area) voted by more than a two-to-one margin to leave SEIU Local 221 and instead join an independent union.

The final tally on the vote, which was conducted by California’s Public Employment Relations Board, was:
Association of Chula Vista Employees (ACE):  163
SEIU Local 221:  81
No Union:  4

Why did workers vote to decertify SEIU?

An article in a local newspaper (The Star News, “Muni union members consider a break,” April 1, 2017) offers some insight:
Esteban Barajas, a Chula Vista public works employee and a full dues paying member with SEIU, said he wants to see his union break away from SEIU because he said they do not properly represent Chula Vista Employees when they are needed, and are only around every three years during contract negotiations and he said SEIU does not give CVEA a fair share of money.  He said SEIU receives about $250,000 annually as part of CVEA’s union dues.
“We’re supposed to be on the top of the food chain so why are they getting $250,000 and we are over here living off of top ramen soups?”

Workers at the City of Chula Vista are just the latest group to decertify SEIU Local 221. In recent years, at least eight other bargaining units have bolted Loco 221 including…

1) San Diego Community College District
2) City of San Marcos
3) City of La Mesa
4) San Diego County’s Probation Officers Unit
5) San Diego County’s Crafts Unit

Friday, May 19, 2017

SEIU Is Sued over Nevada Trusteeship

A supporter of SEIU Nevada’s former president has filed a lawsuit challenging SEIU International’s recent trusteeship of the local union, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Union member suing to restore local control of SEIU Nevada chapter,” May 16. 2017).

On Tuesday, Cherie Mancini (the union’s former president) appeared alongside ten supporters in a District courtroom seeking a court order to return control of the union to its recently disbanded executive board, according to the newspaper. 

The lawsuit is now headed to federal court.

Last month, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry removed Mancini and Sharon Kisling (SEIU Nevada’s former executive vice president) from their positions and then had two of her lieutenants conduct a nighttime meeting with SEIU Nevada’s remaining executive board members, who reportedly voted to ask Henry to place the union under an “emergency trusteeship.”

The lawyer suing SEIU International told the Review-Journal that the trusteeship is invalid because SEIU Nevada’s executive board members were led to believe they had no choice but vote for trusteeship.

The Review-Journal quotes Mancini as saying the following:
"There was a manufactured emergency by the removal of myself and the vice president at the same time. I think that the membership needs to determine whether there needs to be a trusteeship or not.”

The newspaper also reports that following the trusteeship, SEIU officials “fired the local’s chief financial officer Robert Clarke, communications director Dana Gentry and [Peter] Nguyen, the director of organizing and representation.”

Stay tuned.

Friday, May 12, 2017

How Many SEIU-UHW Senior Staffers Can Dance on the Head of Dave Regan’s Pin?

Tasty got ahold of an interesting document that offers more details about the sky-high salaries Dave Regan pays himself and his buddies inside SEIU-UHW.

According to the document (a 2017 pay scale for SEIU-UHW’s “Senior Staff”), the union has installed no fewer than eight separate layers of highly paid “senior staffers” with titles like “Senior Management-Level V,” “Chief of Staff,” and “President.”

Their annual salaries range from $120,000 to $227,000. A copy is below.

So much for “Fight for $15.” 

Apparently, SEIU-UHW managers favor the motto: “Sitting for $75.”

Just in case SEIU-UHW wasn’t already larded up with beaucoup overpaid bureaucrats, in 2017 Regan decided to add two more layers of phat managers atop the teetering, top-heavy union: Senior Management-Levels III and IV.

SEIU-UHW’s salaries are stunningly high:  Regan earns more than the Presidents of at least two international unions, the United Auto Workers and the United Steelworkers.

So… it’s obvious why Regan pays himself so much money. But why is he lavishing six-figure salaries on senior staffers?

A source explains it this way: “It costs a lot of money to buy people’s loyalty.”

If staffers don’t like the union’s leader or his vision, then how do you keep them on the job? You bribe them by paying sky-high salaries. Golden handcuffs, as they say.

Other unions have a radically different vision that's more democratic and egalitarian. For example, at NUHW, the union’s constitution prohibits the president from earning more than the highest-paid rank-and-file member.

Regan’s salary structure recalls recent critiques of SEIU’s brand of “neoliberal unionism.” Last September, the authors of one piece in Jacobin Magazine called on the labor movement to confront SEIU:
The proliferation of this model of unionism would spell disaster for the American labor movement. Our movement’s success depends on how widely and how militantly we can organize workers to fight corporate power and the 1 percent, not embrace them. 
Union members and leaders must do everything in their power to halt the march of neoliberal unionism, before they march the labor movement straight into its grave.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Trusteeships Strain Purple Palace

Last week was a busy one for the Purple Palace.

On Wednesday, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry removed the top two officials at 9,000-member SEIU Nevada.

On Thursday, in Detroit, SEIU officials conducted a daylong trusteeship hearing to put SEIU Healthcare Michigan under a permanent trusteeship. In February, Henry removed the local union’s president, Marge Faville Robinson.

And on Friday, Henry imposed a trusteeship on SEIU Nevada.

Thursday’s hearing in Detroit was conducted by LaPhonza Butler, who served as the “Hearing Officer.” Butler is the President of California’s SEIU Local 2015, a longtime ally of Henry, and a nemesis of SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan.

According to a memo issued by SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Gerry Hudson on April 13, 2017 (see copy below), SEIU officials have now “substantiated” the “allegations of serious financial malpractice” at SEIU Healthcare Michigan.

Hudson’s memo reports:
Specifically, a review of the Local Union’s books and records uncovered evidence that Healthcare Michigan’s loan and paid time off/earned vacation payout policies had been abused, placing Healthcare Michigan members’ rights, benefits and interests at risk.

What actually happened?

SEIU officials are mum on the details. One possibility: local union officials artificially boosted their vacation balances, and then cashed them out. The removal of Marge Faville Robinson is an obvious clue.

Henry’s multiple trusteeships appear to be leaving her a bit shorthanded at the Palace.

In February, Henry appointed Inga Skippings (her “Chief of Staff”) as a trustee in Michigan, and more recently sent Deedee Fitzpatrick (her “Deputy Chief of Staff”) to Nevada to deal with SEIU’s imploding local union in Sin City.
Kirk Adams
Of course, Purple Palace officials -- including Tom DeBruin, Kirk Adams, Stephen Lerner and Bill Ragen -- know tons about “imploding” local unions.

Henry has not yet posted a job opening for a new “aide de camp” or Chief of Staff. But SEIU has posted one for “Director of Organizational Leadership.” The job description includes “work[ing] with officers, senior staff and local union leaders to develop innovative and impactful organizational leadership strategies…”

Hmmmm. Innovative? Impactful? How about just trying to develop a “functional” leadership strategy? 

That would be a big improvement.

Monday, May 1, 2017

SEIU's Mary Kay Henry Imposes "Emergency Trusteeship" on SEIU Nevada

Here’s the latest.

Last Friday (April 28), SEIU President Mary Kay Henry implemented an “emergency trusteeship” on 9,000-member SEIU Nevada, according to an announcement on the union’s website and a formal order pasted below. The action removes the local union’s Executive Board and suspends its constitution.

Friday’s action came two days after Henry removed SEIU Nevada’s President Cherie Mancini and Executive Vice President Sharon Kisling and asked the local union’s Executive Board to meet hours later with two of her representatives, Neal Bisno and Deedee Fitzpatrick

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, here’s what happened during that private meeting on Wednesday night (Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Nevada SEIU asks parent union to take control of operations,” April 27, 2017):

SEIU Local 1107’s executive board voted Wednesday night to request an emergency trusteeship be imposed, SEIU International spokeswoman Janet Veum said. A source with direct knowledge of the vote said it was 17-to-7, with five executive board members abstaining…
Typically, the international union would conduct a hearing and have a vote of its international executive board before imposing trusteeship, Veum said. But because SEIU 1107 made an emergency request, international president Mary Kay Henry could expedite the process by imposing the trusteeship before the hearing is held.

Who’s running SEIU Nevada now?

Henry appointed Lisa Blue and Martin Manteca to serve as “Trustee” and “Deputy Trustee,” respectively. Blue was the “Chief Elected Officer” (CEO) at SEIU Local 521 in California until May of 2016, when Henry appointed her as one of SEIU International’s seven Executive Vice Presidents. Manteca is the Director of External Organizing for SEIU Local 721 in Los Angeles.

Here’s Henry’s trusteeship order:

Friday, April 28, 2017

SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry Moves to Put SEIU Nevada under Trusteeship

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry is placing yet another local union under trusteeship.

On April 26, 2017, Henry removed SEIU Nevada’s top two officers -- President Cherie Mancini and Executive Vice President Sharon Kisling -- from office, according to a two-page internal letter signed by Henry and an announcement on SEIU Nevada’s website.

Also on April 26, two SEIU officials (Neal Bisno and Deedee Fitzpatrick, Henry’s Deputy Chief of Staff) met privately with SEIU Nevada’s executive board at Henry’s request. The next day, April 27, SEIU Nevada’s website announced that its board had voted to place the local union under trusteeship. Here’s an excerpt:
Last night, our executive board met with representatives of SEIU to consider the future of the local…  After a thoughtful and extensive discussion, the executive board voted to ask SEIU to help return our local to those roots by taking Local 1107 into trusteeship.  The local’s request is now pending with International President Mary Kay Henry and we expect a decision soon.

Henry’s April 26 letter also announced the appointment of two of her representatives (Steve Ury and Kathy Eddy) to serve as “monitors” of SEIU Nevada.

On Wednesday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on the developments and posted a copy of Henry’s internal letter. (Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Top 2 elected officials removed from Nevada service union,” April 26, 2017)

In earlier posts, Tasty has chronicled the pathetic history of this affair, which has allowed one of the nation’s largest for-profit hospital companies to strip 1,000 nurses of union presentation.
SEIU Nevada is the fourth SEIU local union to be placed in trusteeship or under “monitorship” in recent months.

In August of 2016, SEIU imposed an emergency trusteeship on SEIU Local 73 in Chicago. In December of 2016, Henry removed the president of Los Angeles-based SEIU Local 99 and placed the union under the control of an SEIU-appointed “monitor,” Eliseo Medina. On February 14, 2017, Henry placed SEIU Healthcare Michigan under an “emergency trusteeship” amid allegations of financial corruption.

More to follow.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dave Regan: "I want a higher salary than the presidents of the Steelworkers and UAW"

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan
Should SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan earn more than the international presidents of the United Auto Workers at the United Steel Workers?

Doesn’t make sense, right?

After all, Leo Gerard (USW) and Dennis Williams (UAW) lead international unions with four to six times as many members as Regan’s local union in California. In 2016, the UAW had 415,963 members while the USW had 548,033.

Nonetheless, that didn’t stop “Wall Street” Dave Regan from pocketing a higher salary in 2016, according to the unions’ DOL Forms LM-2.

In fact, SEIU-UHW’s second-highest paid official, Dave Kieffer, also earned more than the USW’s Gerard and the UAW’s Williams.

Here’s a rundown of their pay, according to Forms LM-2:
Dave Regan, SEIU-UHW President:  $224,706
Dave Kieffer, SEIU-UHW Director of Governmental Relations:  $210,909
Leo Gerard, International President of United Steelworkers:  $207,289
Dennis Williams, International President of United Auto Workers:  $184,159

SEIU-UHW's David Kieffer
A quick glance through SEIU-UHW’s recently filed disclosure report reveals that ten SEIU-UHW officials pocketed more than $150,000 during 2016. The list is below.

And take a look at their job descriptions.

Is it really necessary for one local union to have a Director of Governmental Relations, a Director of Public Affairs, a Director of Healthcare Policy and Advocacy, and a Political Director -- all earning more than $150K a year?
  • Dave Regan, President:  $224,706
  • Dave Kieffer, Director of Governmental Relations:  $210,909
  • Kathy Ochoa, Director of Healthcare Policy and Advocacy:  $179,572
  • Stan Lyles, Vice President:  $176,230
  • Steve Trossman, Director of Public Affairs:  $170,494
  • David Miller, Assistant to the President for Strategic Campaigns:   $168,974
  • Myriam Escamilla, Hospital Division Director:   $162,415
  • Greg Pullman, Chief of Staff:  $153,980
  • Chokri Bensaid, Kaiser Division Director:  $152,860
  • Cass Gualvez, Organizing Director:   $152,521
  • Arianna Jimenez, Political Director:   $152,227

Glad there are unions like NUHW, whose constitution speaks volumes about the union's democratic values by prohibiting the union's president from earning more than the highest-paid rank-and-file member.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

SEIU Nevada Performs Circus Act as Employers Feast at Banquet Table

In Nevada, SEIU’s f*ck-ups continue unabated, according to press reports and a recently released letter authored by one faction inside the 9,000-member local union. 

Meanwhile, some of the state’s largest employers are taking full advantage of SEIU’s dysfunction to deny workers pay increases and strip them of union representation.

Tasty earlier reported on the circus-like show gripping SEIU Nevada (also known as SEIU Local 1107), including dueling “internal charges” filed by the union’s President and Executive Vice President alleging violations of SEIU’s constitution and bylaws.

Last August, police were called to the union’s offices when the union’s Executive Vice President (Sharon Kisling) allegedly chased and threatened one of the union’s staff directors in what he called “a two-and-a-half-hour reign of terror at our office.”

In October, SEIU’s International Executive Board (IEB) held two days of hearings at the Circus Circus Casino to investigate the purple sh*t show. According to an April 12 article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the IEB has not issued any results from its hearing. (Michael Scott Davidson, “Impasse Latest Sign of Trouble for Clark County’s Largest Employee Union,” April 12, 2017).

So here’s the latest.

On March 31, 2017, eight officers of SEIU Nevada’s unit of 5,000 workers employed by Clark County sent a letter to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry “expressing our concern for our local and especially our members.” The letter concludes with this appeal:
This local is broken and needs you. Please, please, please do the right thing and hold President Mancini and this local responsible for taking care of our membership which is where the focus should always be.

The letter focuses on problems SEIU Nevada is facing in its contract negotiations with Clark County, which reportedly employs a majority of the local union’s members. Last week, negotiations reached impasse.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “If a deal is not struck by July 1, when the current contract expires, the county says it will halt scheduled wage and benefit increases for unionized employees until a new contract is agreed upon.”

Here’s an excerpt from the eight officers’ letter to Henry (full copy is below):
We feel the necessity to let you know that we do not believe that we will have a contract in place by July and we are very, very concerned that we are not being heard and this is even more obvious by President Mancini's actions. With only one (1) organizer working for the County membership, he is being setup for failure. One individual cannot reach 4,000+ members that reside in a County of over 8,000 square miles.
The leadership within the Clark County unit are informing you that we cannot continue in the same direction we are today. The negativity, in-fighting, retaliation, blatant disregard for fellow officers, etc. has got to stop. We have waited patiently since November 1, 2016 for the results of the hearings held on October 30 and 31, 2016 and we can't wait any longer. We need to know the results so they are not being held over our heads. There is no reason that we should feel that you, the SEIU International Officers, are ignoring our continued pleas for help.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry
Everyday that we draw closer to July 1, 2017, the closer we are to having a membership that is no longer willing to believe in SEIU. They will give themselves a raise by dropping the union that is no longer fulfilling their needs. We are barely over the 50% membership and we are willing to bet that if we drop below that mark, Clark County Management will be convinced to follow in the footsteps of the hospitals being represented by the same union that are currently under the microscope to prove their membership numbers to keep the status of the members union.

Last month, two Las Vegas hospitals unilaterally withdrew recognition of SEIU Nevada after alleging that a majority of the hospitals’ 1,000 Registered Nurses signed cards indicating they no longer wished to be represented by SEIU, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. (Michael Scott Davidson, “Second Las Vegas Hospital Severs Ties with Union,” March 13, 2017).

The two hospitals -- Desert Springs Hospital and Valley Hospital Medical Center -- are operated by Universal Health Services, Inc., a multi-billion dollar for-profit company headquartered in Pennsylvania.

The effort to remove SEIU was aided by the right-wing National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. SEIU has filed charges against the hospitals. According to the Review-Journal, SEIU's labor contracts for registered nurses at both hospitals expired in May of 2016 and successor contracts have not been negotiated since then.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Hospital Worker Takes Case to US Supreme Court after SEIU-UHW Officials Fail to Protect Pensions for 15,000 Workers at Dignity Health

A California hospital worker named Starla Rollins has taken a fight to protect 15,000 workers' pension benefits all the way to the US Supreme Court.

Last week, Rollins’ attorneys asked the Supreme Court to safeguard the retirement benefits of tens of thousands of workers at Dignity Health, a giant hospital company headquartered in San Francisco. 

Even though Dignity’s pension plan covers more than 15,000 SEIU-UHW members, SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan and other SEIU-UHW officials have refused to lift a finger to defend workers’ pensions.

Here’s what’s going on:

In 2009 and 2012, SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan and Hal Ruddick teamed up with Dignity executives to implement sharp cuts to the pension plan covering SEIU-UHW members at more than 30 hospitals across California.

Then, in 2013, Starla Rollins -- a 26-year Ward Clerk at Community Hospital of San Bernardino -- discovered that SEIU-UHW officials had allowed Dignity to underfund SEIU-UHW members’ pension plan by $1.2 billion. (Yes, that’s a “b” for “billion.”)

Because SEIU-UHW officials refused to do anything, Rollins decided to sue Dignity in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of herself and her co-workers. Her lawsuit -- “Starla Rollins v. Dignity Health”-- was filed in 2013. Tasty covered it in this earlier post.

Here’s the latest.

Last July, Rollins and her attorney won an important victory in federal court after doing battle with Dignity’s high-priced lawyers for three years. (See below the decision issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.) 

Dignity, rather than accepting defeat, appealed the court’s decision to the US Supreme Court.

Last week, lawyers for both sides argued their case in front of the Supreme Court.
Starla Rollins

The case centers on the following question: A federal law (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act) requires corporations to adequately fund their employees’ pensions so workers actually receive the pension payments they earned when they retire. 

Dignity acknowledges it has underfunded workers’ pension. But company executives claim they’re exempt from federal law because Dignity is a “religious organization” …even though Dignity has bought up many non-religious hospitals. It even changed its name from “Catholic Healthcare West” so it could re-brand itself as a non-religious company.

What happened during last week’s oral argument at the US Supreme Court?

According to a transcript (see copy below), Judge Sonia Sotomayor grilled a lawyer representing Dignity. Here’s an excerpt from her questioning:
[Dignity is] the fifth largest healthcare provider in the nation. They have 60,000 employees. Do you believe that Congress's vision was to let, what is essentially, a corporate entity opt out of protecting all of those employees?

Kick their asses!

So what happens next?

The Supreme Court justices will publish their decision sometime in June.

What about SEIU-UHW? It continues to do absolutely nothing to protect its members’ retirement benefits. Apparently, “Wall Street” Dave Regan is too busy polishing the CEO’s shoes.

So... huge props to Starla!

In fact, Rollins has been waging not one but two important legal battles against SEIU-UHW for its failure to support its members.

In the second case, Rollins won a giant victory last October when a federal court ordered officials from both SEIU-UHW and Dignity Health to stand trial for illegally laying her off from her 26-year job and then refusing to honor her union contract’s seniority agreement. Rollins was part of the union’s leadership team prior to SEIU’s 2009 trusteeship, when NUHW President Sal Rosselli led the union.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the Supreme Court’s June decision! Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Report: Regan Spent Upwards of $1 million of SEIU-UHW Dues on Failed Lawsuits against Hospital Association

Since the collapse of his secretive partnership deal with the California Hospital Association, Dave Regan has spent upwards of $1 million of SEIU-UHW members’ dues money on law firms to represent him in a series of failed lawsuits, according to figures released this week by SEIU-UHW.

The revelations are contained in SEIU-UHW’s annual report to the US Department of Labor, which was signed by Regan on March 30, 2017.

In 2016 alone, Regan delivered $672,049 of SEIU-UHW’s funds to Prometheus Partners LLP, a San Francisco law firm representing him in various lawsuits against the California Hospital Association (CHA). Here’s an excerpt from SEIU-UHW’s Form LM-2 documenting these payments:

Prometheus Partners represents Regan in a lawsuit, “David Regan vs. Duane Dauner,” filed by Regan in February 2016. In January 2017, a judge effectively tossed out Regan’s lawsuit.

Soon thereafter, Regan paid the San Francisco law firm to sue the entire Sacramento County Superior Court. And Regan lost again.

Regan used a separate law firm -- Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld -- to file other lawsuits against the CHA, which were also unsuccessful. According to SEIU-UHW’s filing this week, the union paid more than $1.1 million to the Alameda, Calif. firm during 2016. In addition to representing Regan in those suits, the firm also performed other legal services for the union.

Altogether, Regan has spent upwards of $20 million of SEIU-UHW members’ union dues on his so-called CHA strategy, which hinged on negotiating a secret sweetheart deal with hospital CEOs.

Among other provisions, Regan’s deal was designed to force SEIU-UHW members into pre-negotiated labor contracts with stripped-down wages and benefits, to prohibit workers from striking, and to use a far-reaching gag clause to block them from reporting substandard staffing and other patient-care violations to government oversight agencies. In addition to legal fees, Regan spent millions to hire signature-gathering firms in an effort to qualify initiatives for the California ballot.

In addition to costing boatloads of workers’ money, Regan’s dueling lawsuits with the CHA famously landed him in criminal court after he reportedly broke the arm of a process server who was attempting to deliver legal documents to Regan’s Kensington, Calif. home on behalf of the California Hospital Association. It’s unclear whether Regan used the union’s funds to pay for legal representation in this personal criminal matter, which was referred to the District Attorney’s office.

How much of SEIU-UHW members’ dues payments will Regan flush down the toilet in 2017?

We’ll have to wait until next year’s report to answer that question.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dave Regan Wins Reelection with Votes from Just 3% of Union’s Members

Last week, Dave Regan was declared the winner of SEIU-UHW’s internal election after winning the votes of just 3% of SEIU-UHW’s members. 

Of the union’s 86,512 members, Regan received votes from 2,916 members while his two challengers together collected about 1,000 votes.

Here are the vote totals for the election, according to SEIU-UHW’s website:

Total eligible voters: 86,512
Dave Regan: 2,916 votes
Niko Anagnostopoulos: 511 votes
Cartina Price: 469 votes

Regan’s vote totals dropped from approximately 8,000 in 2014 to just 2,916 in 2017. At the same time, Regan’s challengers collected about the same numbers of votes in 2017 as they did in 2014 – approximately 1,000.

In the run-up to the election, Regan campaigned around California by attending monthly steward council meetings at multiple hospitals. Regan’s efforts may have been prompted by the support shown for one of his challengers, a rank-and-file Kaiser Permanente member named Niko Anagnostopoulos who won the unanimous backing of the steward council at his hospital, which is one of Kaiser’ largest.

During his speeches to steward council meetings at Kaiser hospitals, Regan reportedly said he wants to negotiate a 10-year labor contract with Kaiser during the partnership unions’ negotiations next year. In California’s hospital industry, union contracts are typically two to four years in duration.

Interestingly, at St. Francis Medical Center in Los Angeles, Regan’s slate of candidates (the so-called “Healthcare Justice” slate) lost elections for seats on SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board. Independent candidates beat Regan’s slate by more than a two-to-one margin. The 384-bed hospital is part of Verity Health System, formerly the Daughters of Charity Health System.

In 2015, Regan negotiated massive cuts for workers at St. Francis and other Verity hospitals, including freezing workers’ wage scales, eliminating benefits for many part-time workers, and multiple other cuts. Next, Regan used a system of ramrod membership votes to ratify his give-backs to the four-profit company. SEIU-UHW members called Regan’s contract “the worst contracting or history.”

Facebook post by one of Regan's challengers following the vote count.

What’s next?

It’s unclear whether Regan intends to serve out the full three years of his next term of office.

In December 2015, Regan told a meeting of the SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board he would not run for re-election, according to board members who attended the meeting. Regan said he was backing the director of SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division, Chokri Bensaid, to succeed him.

As the election approached, however, Regan suddenly declared his candidacy. 

Some observers speculate he ran for reelection because he was concerned that Bensaid could not win a contested election. According to these observers, it’s possible Regan will resign his position during his next term of office so that Bensaid can be appointed by the union’s Executive Board as his successor.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Will Trustees Shed Light on Andy Stern's "Golden Handshake" with Former SEIU Official in Michigan?

With SEIU Healthcare Michigan under an emergency trusteeship due to allegations of financial malpractice, Tasty took a look at the union’s recent financial disclosure reports and discovered some interesting details.

During recent years, the union has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Paul Policicchio, the union’s former president, even though Policicchio resigned his position more than 15 years ago.

According to the union’s annual reports to the US Department Labor (Form LM-2), SEIU Healthcare Michigan has been paying Policicchio $53,400 a year for many years. 

And the payments have continued through 2015, the most recent year for which records are available, even though Policicchio died in 2013.

What are the payments for?

In some years, the union says the payments were for “Consulting Services.” In other years, it describes them as “Retiree Supplement.”

In November of 2013, when Policicchio died at age 63 following a battle with cancer, SEIU Healthcare Michigan began making the $53,400-a-year payments to his wife, according to the records.

For what alleged purpose?

In 2015, SEIU Healthcare Michigan paid her $53,400 for serving as a “Retiree Consultant,” according to the records.

What’s going on?

Tasty’s sources believe these payments are part of a “buyout” engineered by SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern.
Andy Stern

In 1988, Policicchio became the president of Detroit-based SEIU Local 79, the predecessor union of SEIU Healthcare Michigan. He also was named an SEIU International Vice President in Washington, DC.

In 1996, Stern took office as SEIU’s president and reportedly wanted to move Policicchio out of SEIU so he could fill Policicchio’s position with one of Stern’s allies. So Stern allegedly engineered a “buyout” to coax Policicchio out the door. 

In 2001, Policicchio retired from SEIU at age 51 with an SEIU pension and Stern’s fat “golden handshake” in his pocket.

Sources believe Stern’s “buyout” likely included a “gag clause” that barred Policicchio from saying anything bad about Stern, SEIU or the buyout.

So just how big was Stern’s alleged “golden handshake?”

Hard to say.

But perhaps Mary Kay Henry and her trustees -- Tom Balanoff, Inga Skippings, and Ed Burke -- can take a look at SEIU Healthcare Michigan's books and shed some light on this six-figure, purple-hued mystery. Inquiring minds want to know. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Corruption Allegations Prompt Mary Kay Henry to Put SEIU Healthcare Michigan in Trusteeship

Notice of trusteeship posted on door of union's office
Last month, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry placed SEIU Healthcare Michigan under an “emergency trusteeship” amid allegations of financial malpractice, according to a statement from SEIU that’s posted on the local union’s website. A copy of the trusteeship order, signed by Henry, is available below.

Henry removed Marge Faville Robinson, the union’s president, who is also a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board.

Later this month, an SEIU-appointed “Hearing Officer” is scheduled to conduct a hearing where evidence will be presented about alleged corruption and improprieties.

Here’s how SEIU described the rationale behind the trusteeship in a post on SEIU Healthcare Michigan’s website. Apparently, an unknown whistleblower reported the alleged corruption. (“SEIU Healthcare Michigan Placed into Emergency Trusteeship”)
After someone with knowledge of the local reported potential financial malpractice at Healthcare Michigan, representatives of the International Union conducted a review of the local union’s books and records and found information indicating abuse of the local union’s loan and paid time off/earned vacation policy. Following this review, President Henry concluded that it was necessary to place the local into an emergency trusteeship to protect the interests of members and to allow for a full investigation to determine all the facts.

“An SEIU spokeswoman declined to comment on whether police were involved in the investigation,” according to an article published by MLive, an online news site operated by Booth Newspapers, which publishes eight newspapers in the state of Michigan. (Stephen Kloosterman, “'Financial malpractice' alleged at Michigan healthcare union,” MLive, February 22, 2017)

In comments to a Detroit TV station, Inga Skippings (Mary Kay Henry’s Chief of Staff) stated that President Marge Faville Robinson and Secretary-Treasurer Shalaya Bryant were removed from their positions while SEIU officials investigate.
"The union took steps to bring in trustees at the local and launch a pretty expansive investigation into what could have been going on here," Skippings said.
The union says a whistleblower came forward telling representatives to look at the books leading to claims of abuse of finances specifically in the union's loan and vacation policy.
"There was initial work done to suss out the credibility before we took the action we did," Skippings said.
The union won't give a dollar amount, but clearly it was enough evidence to warrant both Robinson and Bryant being removed from their position while the union looks at how long and how deep this potential fraud goes.

Henry appointed three SEIU officials to serve as trustees: Tom Balanoff (President of SEIU Local 1), Inga Skippings (Henry’s Chief of Staff) and Ed Burke (a consultant who formerly was an SEIU staff member).

Regular readers of this blog know that Faville Robinson is no stranger to controversy. In fact, allegations of nepotism and corruption have swirled about her like detritus in a toilet bowl.

For example, Faville Robinson collects an unusually fat salary from SEIU Healthcare Michigan despite the fact that the union’s membership has nose-dived from 57,239 members in 2009 to only 10,715 members in 2015. In 2015, the union paid Faville Robinson $209,889, according to the union’s annual report filed with the US Department of Labor.

The union also happens to employ Marge’s daughter and niece. In 2015, the union paid her daughter, Norma Kersting, $108,336 for being its “Director of Representation.” Meanwhile, Marge’s niece (Brenda Robinson) was paid $110,679 to be the union’s “Legal Director.” It used to employ her son, Josh, too.

In 2011, the union provided Marge with a union-paid Buick SUV. According to the union’s most recent annual report, it appears the union has continued to give her a swank car. Here’s what a note to the report states: “A vehicle provided to an Officer is used part of the time for personal transportation.”

Several years ago, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) -- an advocate of rank-and-file democracy and union transparency -- reported that SEIU Healthcare Michigan was renting a luxury apartment for Marge’s use when she traveled to Detroit.

In 2015, SEIU Healthcare Michigan received a flood of cash when it sold four buildings and properties for $2.3 million, according to reports filed with the Department of Labor.

Faville Robinson has served as the union’s president since 2008.
Andy Stern and Mary Kay Henry

In October 2008, SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern appointed her to the union’s presidency after her predecessor, Rickman Jackson, was removed from office when the Los Angeles Times revealed he’d stolen more than $33,000 from low-wage homecare workers as part of the Tyrone Freeman corruption scandal.

Stern appointed Jackson and Freeman to their positions atop SEIU locals, where they served as his loyal allies while stealing from SEIU’s members. Jackson, despite his corruption, continues on the payroll of SEIU International, where he collected $138,000 as a “Campaign Organizing Director” during 2015.

In addition to her roles at the local union and SEIU’s International Executive Board, Faville Robinson also served as the President of the “Cassie Stern Healthcare Workers Education and Training Center.” Rickman Jackson named the center for Andy Stern’s deceased daughter.

In 2010, the Cassie Stern Training Center was dissolved by state officials while Faville Robinson served as its president, according to IRS records.

SEIU Healthcare Michigan is the third SEIU local union to be placed in trusteeship or under "monitorship" in recent months. 

In August of 2016, SEIU imposed an emergency trusteeship on SEIU Local 73 in Chicago. In December of 2016, Mary Kay Henry remove the president of Los Angeles-based SEIU Local 99 and placed the union under the control of an SEIU-appointed monitor, Eliseo Medina. In October of 2016, SEIU's International Executive Board held two days of hearings in Las Vegas, Nevada to investigate charges filed against the top officials of SEIU Healthcare Nevada.

More news to follow.