Friday, September 13, 2019

Dave Regan Is Pushing a New “Partnership Tax” on SEIU-UHW’s Members at Kaiser

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan is facing criticism from rank-and-file members at Kaiser for pushing a new “partnership tax” on SEIU-UHW members at Kaiser. Regan is trying to slip the new tax into a contract he’s negotiating with Kaiser.

How much is the tax?

Beaucoup bucks. 

Each SEIU-UHW member would be taxed 25 cents for every hour worked, according to a description issued by SEIU-UHW (see below). 

For a full-time worker (2,080 hours a year), that translates into $520 per year. Together,  SEIU-UHW's members at Kaiser would pay an estimated $26 million per year in taxes.

In response, SEIU-UHW members at Kaiser are circulating this leaflet:

Of course, the new proposed tax would come on top of SEIU-UHW’s current “partnership tax,” which is approximately 9 cents per hour worked. (SEIU-UHW and Kaiser officials reportedly boosted the tax during their last contract negotiations.) 

Some SEIU-UHW members are asking: 
Why are we even paying the current tax to fund our 'partnership' with Kaiser even though Kaiser is forcing us to go out on strike? 

Not a bad question. 

See below for SEIU-UHW’s effort to win support for its proposed new partnership tax.

In Tasty's humble opinion, SEIU-UHW’s arguments don’t make much sense. 

For example, SEIU-UHW says that by expanding California’s workforce of trained health care workers by 10,000 workers per year, it will improve current union members’ power to win better wages, benefits and retirement.

But that doesn’t follow the logic of supply and demand in labor markets, right?

For example, if there’s a shortage of Respiratory Therapists or Rad Techs in California, those workers have greater power to command higher wages. In fact, hospitals often negotiate mid-contract wage increases designed to prevent these high-in-demand workers from leaving to take jobs elsewhere.

How will expanding the supply of trained workers by 10,000 per year improve the power of SEIU-UHW members at the bargaining table?

And here's another question that deserves attention: Who pays and who benefits?

Kaiser stands to benefit from having a steady supply of newly trained workers.

But under Regan's proposal, Kaiser would only pay half the costs, with SEIU-UHW's members picking up the other half. Why not let Kaiser pay the full cost of training its own workforce? 

Plus, Kaiser pocketed $5.2 billion in profits during the first six months of this year. Kaiser should pay, not workers.

Interestingly, as far as the tax proposal, there's one person who wouldn't pay any taxes under the proposal: Dave Regan.

Sounds like someone is selling snake oil.

Friday, September 6, 2019

SEIU Local 73 Must Re-Run Officer Election after Feds Find Fault

Next month, SEIU Local 73 will re-run last year’s internal officer election after a federal investigation found that SEIU-backed candidates improperly used union resources during the campaigning. The “re-run” election will be conducted under government supervision.

SEIU Local 73, which represents approximately 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and northwestern Indiana, entered into a “voluntary compliance agreement” with the feds to re-run the election, according to the federal Office of Labor Management Standards:
OLMS entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 (located in Chicago, Ill.), concerning its October 23, 2018 election of officers.  The union agreed to conduct new nominations, a new election, and installation for the offices of president, secretary-treasurer, two executive board vice presidents, five vice presidents, and [8] executive board members under OLMS supervision on or before November 22, 2019.  The investigation disclosed that union resources were used when a candidate obtained the union’s membership list and used it to purchase members’ phone numbers to campaign via phone bank.  The agreement follows an investigation by the OLMS Chicago District Office.

The announcement was cheered by the “Members leading Members” slate, whose complaint prompted the government investigation.

Last year’s election came after a two-year trusteeship imposed by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry as well as a 2017 court battle launched by Local 73 members to bring an end to the trusteeship. SEIU’s trusteeship featured a cast of well-known characters, including Eliseo Medina.

SEIU’s trustee, Dian Palmer, won last year’s election for president of Local 73 by just 375 votes. The “Members leading Members” slate, which campaigned on returning control of the union to its members, won eight of 30 seats on the union’s Executive Board.

Since the election, SEIU leaders have faced a variety of criticisms over salary increases for top officials, changes to the union’s constitution that eliminated four annual membership meetings, and the arrest of the local’s former president, Christine Boardman, for allegedly “trespassing” when she attended a membership meeting and handed out a leaflet. Boardman said she had a right to attend the meeting since she’s a retiree.

Next month’s elections will be conducted by mail.

Friday, August 23, 2019

SEIU-UHW Staffer: ‘Whistleblower Was Correct about Dave Regan’

Remember when SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan sued one of his union’s organizers after she spoke to a publication about Regan’s alleged sexual misconduct, drinking on the job, backroom deals with employers, illegal electioneering and other misconduct?

Regan fired the 42-year-old woman organizer, and then sued her for allegedly defaming his character.

Will check this out.

Her attorneys submitted a sworn declaration from another SEIU-UHW staffer, who backs up everything she said to the media. A copy is below.

As Tasty earlier reported, the organizer did not backed down about the truthfulness of what she told the press. And she filed a motion in court to knock out Regan’s lawsuit and require him to pay for any court and legal costs she’s been forced to fund.

Here’s the affidavit:

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Union Leader to SEIU’s Any Stern: “Good riddance and thanks for the clarity”

Sara Nelson, AFA's President

How is the US labor movement reacting to news that SEIU’s President Emeritus Andy Stern has joined a billionaire-funded group that’s dedicated to battling teachers unions?

Here’s what Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants and a former Flight Attendant at United Airlines, told Splinter:
“It’s always good when people can finally be themselves. The labor movement doesn’t need climbers or people who think they are owed something. We need serious leaders. Good riddance and thanks for the clarity. The rest of us have serious work to do right here with the people who do the real work that makes this country, this world, run. We know which side we’re on.”

SEIU’s reaction?

They were initially silent. But in response to a journalist’s inquiry, SEIU spokesperson Dan O’Sullivan issued a written statement that included this excerpt:
We are all indebted to Andy for his leadership as SEIU president. We respect Andy’s desire to contribute to improving working people’s lives now that he is no longer SEIU president. We won’t always agree with Andy, and his views are his own—he does not speak on behalf of SEIU’s members.”

Hmm. Why are SEIU officials allowing Stern to use his official title of "SEIU President Emeritus" in the WalMart family-funded organization's public materials?

Stern’s reaction

First, he took a page out of Trump’s playbook by tweeting something that was totally contradicted by the facts, according to journalist Hamilton Nolan at Splinter. He then asked Nolan for more time to reply to his questions about why he joined the billionaire-funded pro-charter school group. Nolan added this note:
I don’t believe there is any reason the questions can’t be answered now. I will publish Stern’s further comments if and when I receive them.

Hamilton Nolan, “The Union World Is Not Happy With Andy Stern,” Splinter, August 1, 2019.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Another Former SEIU Official Is on Uber’s Payroll

LaPhonza Butler and Mary Kay Henry

It turns out that SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern isn’t the only SEIU official on the payroll of gig companies.

Laphonza Butler, the former President of SEIU Local 2015 and the SEIU California State Council, is advising and representing Uber in secret talks with SEIU, according to an article in Bloomberg. (Josh Eidelson, “Teamsters Union Splits From Uber and Lyft on California Worker Rights Law,” Bloomberg, July 25, 2019).

Butler, a close ally of SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, also served until on the SEIU International Executive Board. Last December, she resigned her position at Local 2015 to take a job as a consultant and partner at SCRB Strategies, a California-based business and political consulting firm.

During the secret talks, covered in this earlier post, SEIU discussed plans to support Uber’s request for an exemption from a groundbreaking new California bill (Assembly Bill 5) that would force Uber to hire drivers as employees rather than exploit them as independent contractors.

On the good news front, Bloomberg reports that leaders of the Teamsters union in California are now saying they oppose exemptions for gig companies following a public backlash.

According to Eidelson:

If the [gig] industry can’t win over the Teamsters, firms could still hope to find compromise with other prominent unions that companies have met with, which include the Service Employees International Union and the United Food & Commercial Workers.
One asset for Uber is Laphonza Butler. She was president of one of the SEIU’s largest local unions until last year and is now a partner at SCRB Strategies, a California-based business and political consulting firm. There, Butler has advised and represented Uber in its dealings with organized labor on employment issues and also serves as an adviser to the presidential campaign of Kamala Harris, the Democratic senator from California. An Uber spokesman said Butler brings a valuable perspective to the company’s efforts to improve work for drivers, and a spokesman for Harris declined to comment. Butler and her firm didn’t respond to requests for comment
More recently, SEIU California circulated a summary of potential alternative legislation. The proposal would provide “flexibility to platform companies and platform workers,” according to the memo. It would create systems for collective bargaining, “portable benefits” accounts and minimum pay guarantees but would allow companies that meet certain criteria to seek “flexible alternative standards” in place of those covering other employers in areas such as overtime, breaks and worker’s compensation.

Such an approach alarms some drivers. Cutting a deal that deprives app-based workers of full employee rights “will absolutely damage the future for workers,” said Nicole Moore, a Lyft driver and organizer with the advocacy group Rideshare Drivers United in Los Angeles. She said any kind of special arrangement would reverberate far beyond ride-hailing and food delivery. “Workers can be deployed from apps in any industry,” Moore said.
In public, union leaders have taken a hard line. Mary Kay Henry, international president of the SEIU, said in February that the union intends to “reach an agreement that’s not a concession.” Henry discussed the issue in a recent meeting with Newsom’s chief of staff.
Bob Schoonover, president of the SEIU’s California State Council, said Thursday that the group “has not and would not support any third classification or interpretation of employee classification that would undermine employee status and protections” granted by last year’s court ruling and the proposed law. SEIU intends to help workers “maintain and expand upon” those protections instead, he said in an emailed statement. Schoonover described the memos exploring potential compromises on employment rights as “ideas and concepts” that “should not be construed” as something more significant.

What kind of deal is SEIU discussing with Uber?

It goes something like this:  In exchange for SEIU backing the gig companies’ exemption from the California bill, the gig companies would designate SEIU as their official “association” representing independent-contractor workers, according to articles in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and other publications.

This would allow SEIU to collect dues money. But it would deprive the workers of the right to strike. And… it would deny gig workers basic legal protections that come with regular employment status: minimum wage, sick leave, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, workers’ compensation, parental leave, family leave, and contributions to Social Security and Medicare.

If Andy Stern and LaPhonza Butler are on gig companies’ payroll, are there others?

Most likely.  Tasty wouldn’t be surprised if David Rolf is pocketing gig company cash.

Friday, July 26, 2019

SEIU’s Andy Stern Has a New Gig Fighting Teachers’ Unions

SEIU's Andy Stern

As teachers mount the biggest wave of strikes in recent US history, SEIU’s President Emeritus Andy Stern has jumped onto the side of anti-union forces backed by billionaires.

That’s the news from Hamilton Nolan, a Senior Writer at Splinter NewsEarlier this week, he published a piece detailing Stern’s latest move. (Hamilton Nolan, “High Profile Labor Leader Has a New Gig Fighting Against Teacher's Unions,” Splinter, July 23, 2019.)

What’s going on?

Earlier this year, Stern became an official advisor to a “front group” that’s pushing for the privatization of public schools and is driven by “virulently anti-union elements,” according to an article by Maurice Cunningham. (Maurice Cunningham, “Keri Rodrigues Goes Coastal with Plans for National Parents Union,” MassPoliticsProfs, April 22, 2019.)

The front group -- called the “National Parents Union” -- is funded by the right-wing billionaire family that owns Wal-Mart.

Here are some details from Nolan’s article:
The most prominent and powerful American labor actions of the past year were the teacher’s strikes that swept the nation, from West Virginia to California. Public school teachers have, more than anyone, been the most visible engine of recent union militancy. And as all of that was happening, here is what Andy Stern did: in April of this year, he was announced as an official adviser of the National Parents Union, an education reform group with deep ties to the Walton Foundation, the charitable arm of the family of Walmart heirs, the single richest family in America. (Charter schools are a major focus of the Walton Foundation; the NPU’s board members are affiliated with a variety of groups that have received significant Walton Foundation funding, and its co-leader is an executive at Green Dot Public Schools, a charter group funded in part by the Waltons.)
The National Parents Union—which, in the release containing the news of Stern’s appointment, said that it seeks to “define the education conversation in the 2020 election cycle,” using the language of “empowering families” to erode support for the public education system—is not an actual union. Quite the opposite. It is a classic astroturf-style vessel created for the purpose of giving a political campaign a sheen of grassroots respectability. Its advisers and “Founding Members” are a grab bag of prominent charter school advocates. Andy Stern’s name stands out—his listed title is not from an educational group, but rather, “President Emeritus, SEIU.”
Stern is lending his union-world credibility to a group that says this in its organizing document: “In the same manner that teacher strikes and mobilization are commanding headlines, we have a vision of having parent rallies and mobilizations in the spotlight, redirecting the conversation from one about adults to one about students. The teacher unions currently have no countervailing force. We envision the National Parents Union as being able to take on the unions in the national and regional media, and eventually on the ground in advocacy fights.”
In other words, the former head of one of America’s most politically active unions is using his resume in organized labor to support a group that explicitly aims to undermine teacher’s unions—at a time when teacher’s unions have done more to revive militancy in organized labor than any other group. It is a testament to the contempt in which Andy Stern is already held by much of the labor movement that his involvement in the NPU, which was revealed three months ago, has not yet caused a louder uproar. (It is also a testament to the fact that there seems to be no evidence that the NPU has accomplished anything of note so far.) Stern did not respond to emails seeking comment on his role with the new group.

If you’re curious, here’s the NPU’s press release identifying Stern as SEIU’s President Emeritus and describing him as an “Adviser” to the Wal-Mart family-funded organization. On the second page, it states:
The teacher unions currently have no countervailing force. We envision the National Parents Union as being able to take on the unions in the national and regional media, and eventually on the ground in advocacy fights… We see a significant need for a national body that provides centralized technical assistance and encouragement and also harnesses the collective power of our efforts in important national fights where teachers unions have a monopoly on the conversation.

The press release criticizes teachers for opposing the NPU’s privatization agenda, which it calls “education reform.” And it describes NPU’s plan to organize an “aggressive earned media strategy” to broadcast the “NPU message” via national media outlets, targeting those states where teachers have mobilized for improved funding, limits on classroom sizes, investment in school facilities, and livable wages for teachers and school staff.

So what does SEIU President Mary Kay Henry say about this?

After all, SEIU represents tens of thousands of public school staff, including teachers’ aides, cafeteria workers, school bus drivers, maintenance staff and others. And SEIU is trying to unionize instructors in higher education across the nation. 

Do SEIU’s top officials endorse Stern’s use of the union’s name to support an anti-union agenda backed by right-wing funding sources?

SEIU officials refused to comment, says Nolan. 

Without some sort of clarification, SEIU's silence appears to indicate its support for NPU’s agenda as well as Stern's use of SEIU's name to back the organization.

Nolan got a response from Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers.
“There must be some misunderstanding for a respected labor leader, who spent a good part of his life helping working people, to embrace a Walton-funded group dedicated to attacking them,” she told Splinter via a spokesman. “I urge Andy to take another look at what exactly he’s got himself into.”

Tasty’s reaction?

Andy Stern is a foul-smelling piece of fecal matter.

We should count our blessings that progressive forces in the US labor movement, including California healthcare workers led by Sal Rosselli and hotel workers at HERE, took on Stern’s pathetic sell-out ass more than a decade ago.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan Goes to Court over Allegations of Sexual Misconduct, Retaliation and Other Charges

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan is headed to court tomorrow to face allegations that he’s using an illegal lawsuit to try to silence a former SEIU-UHW staffer who spoke to the media about Regan’s alleged sexual misconduct, drinking on the job, backroom deals with employers, illegal electioneering and other misconduct.

The courtroom action, emerging at the same time that Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest brings renewed attention to the #MeToo movement, will be heard on July 17 in Riverside County (Calif.) Superior Court, according to court records.

Here’s what’s going on:

On March 1st, Payday Report published an article quoting an SEIU-UHW organizer who said Regan has had sexual relations with SEIU-UHW members and staffers, often drinks on the job, and carries out campaigns of retaliation against staffers and union members who raise criticisms.

Days later, Regan’s Chief of Staff Greg Pullman reportedly interrogated the 42-year-old woman organizer and fired her.

Next, on March 21st, Regan used SEIU-UHW’s money and lawyers to sue the former staffer, Njoki Woods, for allegedly defaming him through her comments to the press, which Regan says are false. Regan calls on the court to force Woods to pay an unspecified amount of punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and court fees to Regan. See a copy of the lawsuit below.

On June 11, Woods filed a motion asserting that Regan’s lawsuit is an illegal attempt to retaliate against her for exercising her right to free speech. She defends her earlier statements to Payday Report as truthful. See a copy of the motion below.

How could Regan’s lawsuit be illegal?

Woods says it violates a California law called the “Anti-SLAPP” statute (“Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation”). The law is intended to prevent powerful people from using their money and lawyers to silence members of the public by tying them up with groundless, expensive lawsuits.

In her anti-SLAPP motion, Woods says her statements to Payday Report are “true statements of facts and opinion she made to a reporter. The reporter published an article based on her statements and now Plaintiffs [Regan and SEIU-UHW] are retaliating against Defendant [Woods] for exercising her freedom of speech.”

Woods’ motion says “it was understood to be common knowledge that Plaintiff Regan and Marcus Hatcher, director of Plaintiff SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division, had sexual relations with members and staff of the Union…” The motion references a second lawsuit (Mindy Sturge v. SEIU-UHW) that makes similar allegations of sexual misconduct by Regan and other top officials at SEIU-UHW.

Her motion continues:
“Defendant [Woods], throughout her employment for SEIU-UHW, had personal knowledge that Regan drank alcohol while serving his duties as president of the Union. This was evident by sensing, through smell, the odor of alcohol on his breath, and by vision, by frequently exhibiting a flushed face, red, bloodshot, watery eyes. He also slurred his speech, made inappropriate comments, amongst other visual signals of abuse of alcohol.”

In her motion, Woods offers additional details to back up her comments to the press. For example, she describes how her direct supervisor, Grisell Rodriguez, rewarded one of Woods’ coworkers for engaging in a sexual relationship with him. When Woods raised concerns about his actions to Regan and the union’s leaders, they did nothing, she says.
Riverside Superior Court
Woods, who is African-American, also describes how her supervisor and other staff subjected her to racist comments and treatment.
Woods “spoke only the truth, based on her personal experience and knowledge. Woods witnessed the following: employees getting promoted due to the sexual relations those individuals had with other employees of SEIU-UHW; Plaintiff Regan exhibiting symptoms of drinking alcohol while serving his duties as president of the Union; Plaintiff Regan addressing the Union membership, stating that SEIU-UHW would ‘go after’ members who made allegations against the Union while flashing the phone numbers of attorneys in plain view of those in attendance; being called a ‘black bitch’ by co-workers Bustamante and Saldana and her supervisor, Rodríguez; being segregated by race by being told by her supervisor to ‘go sit with your peers’ meaning the other black people; and being told that she had to give money and campaign on her personal time for Plaintiff Regan and his candidates.”
“Therefore, Plaintiffs’ [Regan’s] claim for defamation must fail because Woods merely stated the truth based on her personal experiences and knowledge while working for Plaintiffs.” (pp. 7-8)

Woods’ motion says Regan fired her and sued her to “chill her right to free speech.” In order for Regan to prevail in his defamation case, he must show that Woods’ statements were made with knowledge that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth. If Woods wins, Regan will have to pay all of her attorneys’ fees and any costs associated with the suit.

One thing is clear: Regan’s decision to target Woods with a lawsuit has only focused more attention on the allegations surrounding his behavior and SEIU-UHW’s inner workings. Stay tuned to Regan’s legal misadventure as more details are sure to spill out like so many maggots from freshly disturbed roadkill.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

SEIU Is Trying to Cut Backroom Deal with Uber and Lyft in California

SEIU officials in California have been engaged in secret discussions with Uber and Lyft around a scheme to exempt the two tech giants from a groundbreaking new bill in California that would force the companies to hire their drivers as employees rather than exploit them as independent contractors.

SEIU, in exchange for backing the companies’ political play in the Capitol, would be designated as the companies’ official union-lite “association” for their independent-contractor drivers, according to articles in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and other publications.

(Johana Bhuiyan, “Treat workers as employees? Uber, Lyft and others are scrambling for a compromise,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2019.  Noam Scheiber, “Debate Over Uber and Lyft Drivers’ Rights in California Has Split Labor,” New York Times, June 29, 2019.)

The news has been met with outrage by drivers. Check out this tweet from Rideshare Drivers United-LA:


What’s causing SEIU officials to leap into bed with gig executives?

Opportunism on SEIU’s part. And desperation from the tech execs.

California’s legislature is poised to pass a bill that would require Uber, Lyft and other gig companies to hire their drivers as employees. This would finally give drivers the basic legal protections that come with employment status, including: minimum wage, sick leave, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, workers’ compensation, parental leave, family leave and contributions to Social Security and Medicare.

The bill was triggered by a unanimous 2018 decision by the California Supreme Court known as the Dynamex decision.

To save money, Dynamex -- a same-day courier service -- converted all its employees to independent contractors. A former employee sued the company. The case ultimately landed in the state Supreme Court, which ruled that company executives had misclassified the workers as contractors. The court set up a new test to determine whether workers are independent contractors or employees.

Earlier this year, California Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez introduced Assembly Bill 5 to put this new standard into California law. If it’s not in state law, workers’ only solution is to sue every time a company violates the Supreme Court’s new standard. AB 5 was approved by the Assembly by a vote of 59 to 15, and it’s now in the State Senate. It’s sponsored by the California Labor Federation.

The bill would affect 100,000 drivers at Uber and Lyft, as well as an estimated 1.9 million additional California workers who are currently misclassified as independent contractors.

Tech companies are going batsh*t crazy over AB 5.

If they can no longer exploit workers as independent contractors, their profits will decline. So they’re pulling out all the stops to try to defeat or gut the bill… including trying to cut backroom deals with unprincipled union officials at SEIU and the Teamsters. Here’s how the Los Angeles Times describes it:
In recent months, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates and other companies have been in discussions with officials at two labor unions — including local chapters of the Teamsters and Service Employees International Union — over a possible legislative alternative to Assembly Bill 5, now working its way through the state Senate. The proposal, details of which are still in flux, would allow the firms to continue to treat workers as independent contractors while providing them some benefits and protections typically reserved for employees. (The California Labor Federation, which represents most of the state’s unions, remains committed to obtaining full employee status for on-demand workers.) At least two of the companies, Postmates and DoorDash, have also commissioned surveys to feel out how such a deal would play with Californians.

According to Vox, the deal would require the tech companies to pay the unions to “advocate for the drivers.” Sounds like a company union. (Alexia Fernández Campbell, “Secret meetings between Uber and labor unions are causing an uproar,Vox, July 1, 2019.)

The New York Times cites two unnamed people who attended a meeting of SEIU officials during the past two weeks during which Alma Hernandez, the executive director of the SEIU California State Council, reportedly talked about SEIU’s discussions with the tech companies. It also cites David Huerta, president of the United Service Workers West, as saying he “attended internal and external meetings about gig workers with Ms. Hernández.

 Drivers have also filed class-action lawsuits to recoup money and rights stolen by the gig giants. In March, Uber settled a class-action lawsuit with 13,600 Uber drivers, agreeing to pay them $20 million, but without changing their status as independent contractors.

Vox’s Alexia Fernández Campbell points out that the tech companies are not just exploiting workers, they’re also shifting billions of dollars of taxes onto the backs of regular people. She writes:
The state estimates it loses about $7 billion a year in payroll tax revenue due to worker misclassification that could be supporting schools, roads and other public services. And by avoiding unemployment insurance taxes and workers’ compensation premiums, businesses shift the burden to the state when workers get laid off, get sick or get injured on the job.
“These billion dollar companies can complain but we have to ask ourselves as taxpayers: Should we subsidize their business by subsidizing their workers?” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a former labor organizer from San Diego who is author of AB 5. “That’s what happens when you don’t adequately compensate workers.”

This is not the first time that SEIU’s top officials have been caught doing dirty deals with tech titans and gig giants. In 2017, SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern began working as a highly paid consultant for tech businesses to help them pass a law in the New York state legislature so tech companies could continue to treat their workers as independent contractors. It’s unclear whether Stern continues today in that consultant role.
Andy Stern and David Rolf

Also in 2017, Stern co-authored a proposal with a right-wing D.C. political operative calling on the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress and White House to grant “waivers” to states to allow them to do an end-run around federal labor laws. The waivers would be a boon to tech companies, which are facing dozens of class-action action lawsuits from workers alleging they’re owed millions in back pay after being misclassified as “independent contractors.”

Stern’s proposal, entitled “How to Modernize Labor Law” and co-authored with Eli Lehrer (President of the right-wing “R Street Institute” in Washington DC), was published in National Affairs.

In 2018, David Rolf (then-President of SEIU Local 775 and a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board) signed an open letter with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer calling for the passage of Washington state legislation that reportedly would consign gig workers to a second-class status as independent contractors.

The uber-wealthy plutocrats atop tech companies want to keep sucking as many profits as they can from their workforce. The top three execs at Uber and Lyft have a combined worth of over $1 billion.

Garrett Camp -- a multi-billionaire “Tech tycoon” who co-founded Uber -- just paid a record-breaking $72.5 million for a brand-new estate in Beverly Hills, according to an article published yesterday in Variety.

Uber cofounder and billionaire Garrett Camp
 Camp’s purchase has sparked anger from drivers in Los Angeles. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the London Guardian published yesterday (Sam Levin, “Uber co-founder buys record-breaking LA mansion for $72.5m as drivers fight for wages,” The Guardian (London), July 2, 2019.):

“This is a perfect example of the 1% stealing from the rest of us,” Nicole Moore, a ride-share driver in Los Angeles, said of Camp’s $72.5m purchase. “Drivers are living in their cars. We’re fighting for fair wages. At least share that wealth with the people who have actually built your company.”
“This guy is buying lavish houses with our money, our hard-earned money that they are unjustly taking from us,” added Karim Bayumi, another Los Angeles Uber driver and organizer. “It’s exploitation.”

Hey Mary Kay Henry and Jimmy Hoffa, Jr... Your thoughts? Will SEIU and Teamsters officials perform intimate love acts with these tech billionaires? Or defend exploited workers against greedy corporations?

Friday, June 21, 2019

Dave Regan's Chickens Come Home to Roost at Kaiser Bargaining

It looks like some of Dave Regan’s chickens are coming home to roost.

Observers have long critiqued Regan for negotiating terrible labor contracts that dismantled the defined-benefit pension plans covering more than 20,000 of SEIU-UHW's members at California hospital chains like Dignity Health and the Daughters of Charity Health System.

Observers predicted that Kaiser Permanente would eventually demand the same concession from Regan.

And that’s what happened earlier this week during negotiations between Kaiser and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions at the InterContinental Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Here’s an e-mail that SEIU-UHW sent to its 50,000 Kaiser members on Tuesday:

From: Verna and Georgette <>
Date: Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 7:02 PM
Subject: CONTRACT ALERT: Kaiser's offer to us

We’re still in the middle of bargaining but this can’t wait. We all know Kaiser’s been making record profits — but they opened this session complaining that “hard times” are ahead for the company. They followed up with a disrespectful contract proposal that demands big cuts from us, including:
· Copay increases to $20
· More outsourcing and automation of our jobs
· Lower pay and elimination of pensions — starting with new hires, then we’d be next
Apparently, Kaiser -- despite its massive profits -- is proposing the lowest pay increases in decades as well as the elimination of defined-benefit pension benefits for new hires covered by SEIU-UHW. Instead, new hires would get a cheap 401(k) plan. That’s what Regan allowed Dignity and Daughters of Charity to do.

How will SEIU-UHW respond?

The union's leaders are calling on members to prepare for votes during the summer to authorize a possible strike later in the year. 

That’ll be interesting. Since Regan took over SEIU-UHW during the 2009 trusteeship, the union has reportedly conducted only one strike at a small facility during the past decade. Pretty lame, right?

Hmmmm. Will SEIU-UHW’s members even remember what a strike is?

Stay tuned!