Friday, July 7, 2017

Workers: "SEIU-UHW Cut Backroom Deal with California Hospital Chain"

SEIU-UHW officials have cut another dirty backroom deal with hospital bosses, according to workers at four California hospitals.

Here’s what’s going on:

Two years ago, SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan made a backroom deal with a New York hedge fund that bought the Daughters of Charity Health System, a chain of six California hospitals in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

As BlueMountain Capital was negotiating to buy the chain in 2014, Regan met privately with its execs and agreed to accept massive benefit cuts for SEIU-UHW’s 2,000 members, according to documents later obtained from the California Attorney General.

Next, SEIU-UHW officials used ramrod ratification votes in 2015 to jam a new three-year contract down the throats of SEIU-UHW members at four of the chain’s six hospitals. In addition to containing a freeze on workers’ pay scales and other cuts, Regan’s new contract stripped hundreds of members of basic benefits -- such as health insurance, vacation, sick pay, and retirement benefits -- by gutting workers’ longtime benefit-eligibility standards. See this post for more details.

Several months later, NUHW negotiated with the same hedge fund for a contract covering 650 workers at the chain’s two remaining hospitals, Seton Medical Center and Seton Coastside Hospital. NUHW successfully fended off all of the cuts swallowed by Regan and also won increases of 3% per year to workers’ wage scales and one-time “equity” pay increases of up to 12%.

Last month, SEIU-UHW’s members got their latest surprise.

Under SEIU-UHW’s current labor contract, which expires in late 2018, SEIU-UHW is required to do mid-contract negotiations with the company to implement a new health plan that that “reduces costs for the employer.” Article 25 of SEIU-UHW’s contract reads:
"In order to reduce costs, the Employer and Union will work together as soon as possible to find a new health plan to take effect for 2017 through the term of the contract that maximizes Employee benefits while reducing costs of providing health coverage to the Employer." 

Last month, SEIU-UHW officials gathered a bargaining committee to negotiate over the health plan… but SEIU-UHW officials quickly pulled a giant switcheroo on workers.

Greg Pullman, Regan’s “Chief of Staff,” appeared as SEIU-UHW’s negotiator, and told the bargaining committee he planned to negotiate a quick three-year extension to SEIU-UHW’s piss-poor contract -- the same contract that has stripped hundreds of workers of basic benefits. Pullman said he wanted to roll over SEIU-UHW’s current contract with 3% pay increases for the next years.

What about fighting to restore workers’ benefits so they at least equal those enjoyed by NUHW members? Naaaah… forget it, said Pullman.
Dave Regan
Workers cried foul. But Pullman pushed the deal through a full year and a half before the contract will expire on October 31, 2018.

Now, SEIU-UHW’s 2,000 members are stuck until 2021 with a contract that gives its members second-class benefits compared to NUHW members who work for the same employer, Verity Health System.

SEIU-UHW’s members are stuck, that is, unless they exercise their right to dump SEIU-UHW in a decertification vote just like the workers did at Seton Medical Center and Seton Coastside Hospital.