Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another SEIU President Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

'Member NAGE?

It's an SEIU affiliated union based in Boston. It's leader, Dave Holway, has long been criticized by his members for his big money, horse breeding, flashy ways. Holway is an SEIU Vice President and serves on the SEIU International Executive Board. Last year, Holway earned $270,000 for leading NAGE's 43,000 members. Aside from his love for horse racing, Holway is also known for striking up a romantic relationship with SEIU staffer Susana Segat, who was appointed the trustee of SEIU Local 888 in Massachusetts.

And Dave isn't the only one in NAGE who likes being bankrolled by his members. The president of a NAGE local in Missouri pleaded guilty to improperly writing more than 104 checks to himself or his grandson. Over the years Garold Lawson embezzled more than $70,000--a big chunk of the funds for a local union with only a couple hundred members.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sarah Palin would say that the Workers Refudiated SEIU.

And she would be right!

SEIU held elections in Ohio at a Catholic hospital chain called CHP. And they lost, big time.

They won 4 units.
They lost 39 units.
They are waiting to resolve 1 unit, because of challenge ballots.

That's right: less than 10% of workers chose to have a union, with just SEIU on the ballot.

So, why does this matter? The election with CHP was supposed to be the feather in the hat of the current leadership of SEIU, and signal a new day in union organizing. This election was Mary Kay's baby.

A little history--SEIU has long supported bargaining neutrality agreements, which are bargained with an employer to make the process of organizing less intimidating to workers. In this case, the employer is not allowed to intimidate the workers, but unlike most agreements--SEIU was also not allowed to talk to the workers about the union except in leaflets and letters that the employer and SEIU write together and on a 1-800 number that workers can call if they wanna! In other words, the workers were not allowed to form an organization of themselves--the most basic description of what a union does. Learn more about the agreement here.

SEIU has faced a lot of criticism in the labor movement for bargaining very weak agreements that waived a lot of their members' rights and treated the union as a 3rd party. Of course, pre-trusteeship SEIU-UHW leaders were amongst the most critical of such watered down agreements--like the Alliance agreement in California. And we all know how SEIU dealt with them.

In fact, this agreement with CHP was negotiated years ago, and in 2008 SEIU and CHP informed workers by letter that they would have union election in a matter of days. The California Nurses Association leafleted the hospital just days before the election, and many workers became concerned with what CNA called a "sweetheart deal." SEIU pulled out of the election and blamed the CNA--including a violent confrontation where an SEIU member lost his life and SEIU staff assaulted attendees of a Labor Notes conference.

But SEIU didn't give up in the agreement. CHP was considered the test case--if it worked SEIU could use it to run similar elections in Catholic health care facilities all over the country. SEIU leadership from Ohio (Scott Courtney, Dave Regan, Joyce Moscato, etc) had spent millions of dues dollars and years working on this agreement, and Mary Kay had negotiated it herself. So, SEIU waited a few years after the CNA intervention, and tried again this past week.

And lost terribly.

But, Tasty guesses that SEIU won't be admitting their failure anytime soon--it would endanger the rest of the deal with Catholic hospitals. According to Modern Healthcare: “We remain convinced that our agreement produced a fair and balanced process for employees to choose whether or not to form a union,” Wright said Friday. “We believe our agreement … sets an example for how to avoid the tension and conflict that often accompanies organizing campaigns.”

Fair and Balanced says it all, right?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sayonara, Josie Mooney.

Tasty hears that another top SEIU official is out of a job. Josie Mooney was the top dog at SEIU Local 790 in San Francisco, a former member of SEIU's International Executive Board, and is a close ally of Andy Stern, Anna Burger, Mary Kay Henry, Tom Debruin and others. In fact, until recently, Josie served as Stern's "special envoy" to China... meaning she tagged along on Andy's many junkets overseas. In fact, she may have been one of the special few who accompanied Andy on his union-paid trip to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Readers may remember Josie for her role in an infamous SEIU scandal in 2008. Josie and SEIU Vice President Tom Debruin were part of a secret group of SEIU staffers called the "Skunk Team" that was directed by Stern to wage a smear campaign against UHW's former leaders prior to the SEIU convention in Puerto Rico. Josie and DeBruin used expensive media consultants, political operatives and even anti-union consultants to run a cloak-and-dagger campaign against former UHW leaders, who had dared to criticize SEIU's unethical practices and presented a set of reform proposals for the SEIU convention.

Josie and DeBruin's "Skunk Team" campaign was in full swing until a disgusted SEIU staffer couldn't stomach it any longer, and blew the whistle on the operation. In this sworn declaration, the staffer describes how the smear campaign was carried out, including Josie's effort to hook him in: "You can be known as the guy who helped save Andy's ass in California." You can read more gory details in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Josie later left SEIU and took a job as the Executive Director at the California School Employees Association, an independent union representing 220,000 school support staff. Josie quickly ran into problems as leaders accused her of trying to merge the independent union into SEIU. Check out this blog that captures Josie's misdeeds in vivid color, including comments like these:
"The only way we can take our CSEA back (the member-run organization that we know of and love dearly) is to remove HER. A vote of no confidence for the highest paid staffer in CSEA ($200,000+ salary – our money, our dues). I feel that she really never left SEIU. She’s just on hiatus from it while she plans to convert CSEA to SEIU."

"Josie and her crew are dictators (as you have pointed out) and they will squash anyone who brings up this topic even if its just while venting."

"Josie is driving CSEA, and she is driving us off a cliff."

"You all better get a backbone and step against the PURPLE Devil."

"We need to take a stand and stop this before it is too late. Rally the troops – we need to slay the purple dragon."

"This purple people eater needs to be cut loose fast. The Board needs to make a decision. My greatest trepidation is that they will sign a new contract with this megalomaniac."


In December, busloads of CSEA members and staff attended CSEA's Board meeting in San Jose and expressed fears about the "CSEA turning purple." Check out this leaflet about the meeting.

Well, the board eventually put Josie on administrative leave. And then, on January 15, they terminated her.

So what's next for Josie? If she were still in SEIU, she'd be heading for Switzerland. That's what happened to Paul Varacalli, who used to work with Josie at SEIU Local 790. Varacalli, who was the local's Executive Director, apparently had a bad habit of stealing money from the union's members. Meanwhile, Josie -- who was the local's Number 2 -- was reportedly continuing to live out the 1960s ideal of "free love"... with politicians and union officials alike. Apparently, one day at the union's headquarters, a staffer famously walked into Varacalli's office and found Josie doing the Big Nasty with big Paul Varacalli (and Tasty does mean "The Big Nasty").

When a group of the local's senior staff members complained to SEIU International about Varacalli's stealing, the union fired the whistleblowers, leaving Josie and Bill Lloyd to run the local. Varacalli was quickly sent into "exile" in Switzerland for three years. When he returned, SEIU higher-ups engineered a soft landing at SEIU's Purple Palace where Varacalli was given the job of "Special Assistant to the President for Pensions." (Sound familiar, Rickman and Annelle?)

Which brings us back to Josie. After getting the boot from CSEA, will top SEIU officials engineer Josie's own "soft landing" at the Purple Palace in DC? Will she and Varacalli reunite in a Swiss chalet? Or will Josie's romance with an SEIU lawyer leave Varacalli out in the cold? Stay tuned, readers!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sutter/Alta Bates Summit Election Results

Quite remarkable that after SEIU delayed the election for two years, and workers were subjected to a joint campaign by SEIU and Sutter, and SEIU poured resources into the campaign, that it narrowly eked out more votes than NUHW supporters.

Tasty hears that SEIU and Sutter committed huge violations of federal labor law during the campaign and that NUHW will file objections to seek a re-run of the election.

SEIU 510
NUHW 448
No Union 21

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nice Tie, Spy.

Yesterday, Tasty described how Sutter is illegally surveilling NUHW supporters inside the hospitals. Check out this picture of a Sutter security guard photographing NUHW supporters inside the hospital's cafeteria.

Not Even a Phone Call?

Remember this post about 150 workers at Shasta Regional Medical Center who reportedly are trying to leave SEIU-UHW?

At the end of the post, Tasty mentioned he'd heard rumors about a similar decert effort in the Bay Area but didn't have details.

Well, readers say the decert effort is happening at San Jose Medical Group, a chain of outpatient clinics that serves 125,000 patients in the Bay Area and employs 250 SEIU-UHW members. The decert petition, which has already been filed with the NLRB, covers dozens of classifications including Medical Assistants, LVNs, Rad Techs, Cardiac Sonographers, Patient Services Reps, Switchboard Operators, Clerks, etc. According to the reports, the workers got fed up after they got zero help -- not even a phone call -- from the trusteed union.

Well, with two more decerts filed in just the first few weeks of January, it's not shaping up to be much of a happy new year for the trustees...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sutter Election Today and Tomorrow!

Tasty is getting lots of reports from Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, where workers are voting today and tomorrow in an NLRB election. Two years ago, workers filed petitions for the election to join NUHW, but SEIU has been using bogus legal appeals to block the election since then. The hospital -- located in Oakland and Berkeley -- is, as most of you know, owned by the giant Sutter Health corporation, one of California's most anti-union hospital companies.

According to workers, SEIU has rolled out its usual strategy: jump in bed with the boss, hand over contract concessions to the company, and then use all of management's resources -- and lots of misinformation and threats -- to try to beat back workers' efforts to actually, you know, choose their own union. Charming, as usual.

After SEIU removed all of the workers' elected Shop Stewards, SEIU's Cass Gualvez, Erica McDuffy and Carrie Cianchetti colluded with Sutter's executives to fire a 31-year rank-and-file leader because she supports NUHW. Eventually, Sutter was ordered to return her to work after an Administrative Law Judge ruled that she was illegally fired simply because of her support for NUHW. Check out this article as well as the full 50-page ALJ ruling for details about plain-clothed security guards hired to surveil NUHW supporters.

So why is Sutter so supportive of SEIU? Well, last year SEIU let Sutter cut workers' health benefits, forcing workers to pay 15% of a health insurance plan that used to be free. In exchange for SEIU's gift of millions, Sutter is pulling out all stops to help SEIU try to win the election. The company has allowed dozens of SEIU organizers to campaign freely throughout the hospital -- even offering up conference rooms for SEIU's campaign.

Each day, management lets SEIU bring truckloads of food into hospital conference rooms where SEIU organizers buttonhole workers who're trying to sample some of the food funded by their dues dollars. (Apparently, SEIU is literally spending tens of thousands of dollars on everything from BBQ ribs to gourmet deli sandwiches to mongolian beef.)

And while Sutter gives free rein to SEIU, management routinely calls the cops on NUHW supporters attempting to talk to co-workers in the hospital's public cafeterias. In fact, Sutter has even assigned security guards in blue blazers to follow and surveil supporters.

So the battle lines are drawn! Tasty sends out huge props to workers who have waited TWO YEARS for an election and have confronted firings, threats and security guards, not to mention SEIU's scare tactics aimed at convincing workers they'll lose their wages and benefits if they vote for NUHW. Tasty is with you!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Even CNA Knows that SEIU Sold Out the Sutter Workers!

Jeez...Look at the flyer CNA put out at Alta Bates Summit about their new contract.

The nurses' union fought back against significant take-aways...too bad SEIU didn't do the same. Paying 15% of their healthcare costs is tantamount to a pretty big paycut for all those SEIU members.

Where is that bargaining power, Dave?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Members Charge Regan with Violations in Officer Elections aka I DON'T THINK SO.

While it seems like being SEIU-UHW President isn't really that fun of a job, SEIU’s trustees have launched their campaign for the upcoming officer elections at SEIU-UHW, and charges are already flying about election violations committed by Dave Regan and the other trustees.

And get this… the charges of illegal electioneering are coming from inside SEIU’s own team. In mid-December, UHW member Sophia Sims filed a formal complaint with SEIU President Mary Kay Henry claiming that Regan is using the union’s own resources to fund his election campaign.

For those who don’t know Sophia, SEIU recruited her to be part of its pre-trusteeship implosion campaign. Fast forward a couple of years, and it sounds like Sims’s opinion about SEIU’s DC officials has changed a bit… Sims’s take on Regan: “We don't need this lying and cheating and we don't need or want him.”

Sims says that in December the trustees held a conference of hundreds of UHW’s rank-and-file leaders at a Radisson hotel in Fresno where union staffers handed out leaflets and held meetings supporting the trustees’ slate of candidates in the upcoming election. Sims says that Regan – who soon after the trusteeship fired thousands of elected Shop Stewards when they refused to sign loyalty oaths to SEIU – has apparently dusted off a new set of loyalty oaths for union members who want to run on the trustees’ slate. Sims says that a member who expressed interest in joining the trustees’ slate during the Fresno conference was told “to fill out a form saying she will be loyal to them only.”

Sims says things only got worse: “Later that evening [Regan’s] slate gave a reception at the Fresno Convention Center, which was right across the street from where we were meeting, how convenient. Our members asked where did they get the money from to hold such an event and there was no answer. Well this is suspect and cheating also. He has used his position to have the upper hand in running in this election and I want him disqualified now. To allow him to get away with this behavior will be sending a very wrong message to a membership that is trying to heal. We don't need this lying and cheating and we don't need or want him. Our members asked question after question and he didn't have the decency to attempt to get on the stage and answer, he sent his stand in Debbie Schneider who had no answers.”

Sims concludes her email to Mary Kay Henry this way: “The remedy is to have [Regan] withdraw now, if you don't then we get the Office of Labor-Management Standards to come do an investigation. Can SEIU really afford another scandal, I DON'T THINK SO.”

And just as a bit of insurance, Sims cc’d an official from the U.S. Department of Labor on her complaint. Here’s the response from SEIU’s Michael H. Holland:

From: "Michael Holland" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2011 19:15:53 -0600
To: <>; 'Debbie M. Schneider'<>; <> Cc: 'Patricia Thomas'<>

Subject: FW: Dave Regans Presidential campaign/ 2011 UHW Election Protest #1

Dear Ms. Sims, Ms. Schneider and Mr. Regan:

I have been appointed by International President Henry as her personal representative to SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) to serve as Election Officer, responsible for handling election-related complaints and protests in connection with the upcoming election of officers in UHW. That appointment has been confirmed by UHW Deputy Trustee Debbie Schneider.

In this connection, I acknowledge receipt of Ms. Sims’ pre-election protest of December 12, 2010 (transmitted electronically to International President Henry at 10:25 PM EST), a copy of which is attached. I have assigned the protest the number indicated above; please use this number on all communications with me concerning the protest. I will be investigating the protest, and can be reached at

As you will note, I am providing a copy of the protest to Ms. Schneider, in her capacity as Deputy Trustee, and to Mr. Regan, the subject of the protest. I am also providing the Election Committee, by way of Ms. Thomas, a copy of the protest.

I request each of you to provide me with all information relevant to the allegation contained in the protest, including the names and contact information of witnesses and persons with information concerning the allegations of the protest, and all relevant documents. Please provide me, at the electronic address noted above, the information and/or documents no later than January 17, 2011.

Very truly yours,

Michael H Holland,
UHW Election Officer
Sent from my iPad

(All those SEIU people get ipads now?! Must be nice...)

Friday, January 7, 2011

NUHW Wins Big!

Today, workers at Kindred Hospital San Leandro voted by a two-to-one margin to leave SEIU-UHW and join NUHW in an NLRB election.

The facility is a small acute-care hospital in the Bay Area that specializes in treating and rehabilitating patients who need an extended stay in a hospital setting.

Like in virtually every facility, SEIU's attorneys have been blocking the election for a long long time, and then decided to look the other way as management targeted rank-and-file leaders who supported NUHW.

But, in the end, workers stood strong and beat the boss and SEIU! Congrats to all the workers at Kindred San Leandro! Here's the final vote count:

NUHW: 46
SEIU: 25
No Union: 0

Shasta Healthcare Workers Look to Leave SEIU-UHW!

But who would want to leave such a democratic awesome local union?

I guess Shasta workers--Tasty ran across this news article, which says that 150 workers at Shasta Regional Medical Center just signed a petition to leave SEIU-UHW. AKA, the hospital believes that the majority of the workers no longer wish to be represented by their union and the hospital is refusing to continue to recognize the worker's union. This is the most anti-union step a company can take, and it shows just how few of the workers are willing to fight to stay in SEIU-UHW.

NUHW wasn't even involved -- the hospital's workers simply signed a petition to leave SEIU-UHW. It's a bad loss for SEIU because the hospital's parent corporation is the fastest growing hospital chain in the state.

According to one local news report:

The hospital said more than half of the employees signed a petition, which is just as good as a vote.

"They signed a decertification petition. So there was no actual vote. There was a petition that the employees signed and generated themselves and over 50% of the involved employees signed the petition to no longer have the union represent them,” SAID Cyndy Gordon, Chief Nursing Officer of Shasta Regional Medical Center.

Hubbard said nothing has been formalized with the national labor relations board. Hoyt argues that because the petition was generated by the employees, the hospital only needed to send a notification letter to SEIU.

Btw, Tasty hears rumors that another group of workers in the Bay Area recently filed a petition to leave SEIU-UHW. Anyone got more details?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dysfunction in your stocking!

Wanna get a taste of the dysfunction inside SEIU? Check out this tale of Christmas woe...

In Southern California, SEIU Local 121 announced a 5-day strike against two HCA hospitals beginning on December 23. At the hospitals, Local 121 represents the Registered Nurses while trusteed SEIU-UHW represents the rest of the workers.

Just before the strike, Local 121's website gushed with excitement as it announced that the local had received "strike sanction" from the area's central labor councils. Local 121's website proudly explained: "Strike sanction” means that LA Federation of Labor and Central Labor Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties member unions will not cross our picket line. Many delivery drivers, electricians, repairmen and others will not serve Riverside Community Hospital or West Hills Hospital & Medical Center during our strike.

Well, even though SoCal's electricians and delivery drivers honored the strike, SEIU-UHW's trustees told that local's members to cross Local 121's picket lines and to report to work.

Incredible, right?

So what does it mean when unions of electricians and delivery drivers show greater coordination and solidarity than SEIU's own locals? Let's just say it's a reflection of the disastrous dysfunction that reigns inside SEIU. What's especially crazy is that SEIU's DC officials have appointed the leaders of virtually every SEIU local in California (either thru trusteeships or mega-mergers), meaning that the dysfunction runs deep inside the Purple Palace. Instead of industry-wide coordination, SEIU is a showcase for gratuitous scabbing of one SEIU local against another. Not a pretty sight.