Thursday, June 30, 2011

Truth about Tenet Contract Trips up SEIU... and Journalist

By now, readers are probably all too familiar with SEIU’s strong dislike of the truth. Check out this latest episode, which snared a gullible journalist at the San Francisco Business Times. Here’s what happened:
Recently, SEIU issued triumphant press releases announcing they’d won 18% wage increases during a contract settlement with Tenet Healthcare in California. Chris Rauber, a reporter at the San Francisco Business Times, wrote two entire articles about the contract, which appeared to be reprints of SEIU’s press releases.
Sounds good, right? Well… that is, until you actually read the contract language. It turns out that SEIU’s new agreement freezes workers’ wage scales for the first two years of the contract and increases the wage scales by only 1% increase during the third year.
Here’s what the actual contract language says, which Rauber conveniently forgot to mention in his article. [See the section labeled “Annual Hospital Wide Increase.”]
“Effective July 1, 2011, the wage scales shall remain unchanged.”
“Effective July 1, 2012, the wage scales shall remain unchanged.”
“Effective July 1, 2013, the wage scales shall increase 1%.”
So what about the 18% wage increase? Well, it turns out that it applies only to workers whose wages are far below the pay scale. Instead of immediately bringing them up to the pay scale, the contract caps their annual pay increase (including any “step” increases they’re owed) at 4.5%.
Not a great deal, especially when you consider that in 2010, Tenet made $1.1 billion in profits –its biggest profits in seven years. The for-profit company is projecting another $1.3 billion in profits during 2011.
So who negotiated the Tenet contract? SEIU’s Hal Ruddick – the same guy who bargained away the defined-benefit pension plan for 12,000 workers at Catholic Healthcare West. In that fiasco, Ruddick traded away workers’ pension plan for an infamously inferior cash-balance retirement plan, which is saving hundreds of millions of dollars for the hospital company.
As for the Tenet story, Tasty reminds readers that you can’t trust what SEIU says. And Chris Rauber… that goes for you, too. Time to do your homework!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SEIU Swept Up in Blago's Guilty Verdict

In case you didn’t catch the news, SEIU was swept up in Monday’s corruption verdict against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The federal jury found Blago guilty on 17 counts of extortion, bribery, wire fraud, etc. Tom Balanoff, President of SEIU Local 1 and a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board, was on the phone with Blago when the former governor committed two counts of wire fraud, according to the Chicago Sun-Times:

GUILTY. Count 5: Wire fraud: Senate seat. In this Nov. 12 call to union leader Tom Balanoff, prosecutors allege Blagojevich requested a 501c4 job in exchange for appointing Jarrett. Maximum penalty: 20 years.

GUILTY. Count 6: Wire fraud: Senate seat. In another Nov. 12 call to Balanoff, prosecutors allege Blagojevich was requesting the 501c4 job in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett -- and telling Balanoff to be careful about how he made the request on the governor's behalf. Maximum penalty: 20 years.

Andy Stern was also involved, meeting directly with Blago and Balanoff to talk about a deal. Apparently, they discussed the idea of getting Blago a job at a private foundation funded by SEIU in exchange for Blago naming the right replacement to Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. And in another scheme, Blago talked about getting high-paying jobs for him and his wife at Change to Win in exchange for the Senate seat. Tasty especially likes this excerpt from prosecutors’ evidentiary proffer:

Harris [Blago's Chief of Staff] suggested to Blagojevich that the Change to Win idea might be better than a private foundation because the Change to Win job is controlled by SEIU and Blagojevich would not necessarily have to step down as governor to take it immediately, like he might have to do with a private foundation job. Blagojevich responded that the Change to Win idea was a “fucking great idea.” Later, Blagojevich stated he would like to be on some “corporate boards” in addition to taking the Change to Win job.

Hmm… corporate boards?? As they say, birds of a feather… Who knows? When Blago emerges from his years in the Big House, maybe Andy will find him a seat over at SIGA Technologies!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Andy's Encore

In an encore to last week's performance (where Stern joined forces with Fortune 500 companies to support huge tax cuts for corporations), Andy Stern made some startling statements over the weekend. Here's an excerpt from the transcript of Stern’s TV interview with Judy Woodruff at pro-business Bloomberg News. Tasty has offered a few editorial comments in red.

WOODRUFF: One year after Andy Stern leaves the Service Employees International Union, you are on a corporate board. It’s called SIGA Technologies, Incorporated, controlled by Ron Perelman. Has Andy Stern gone establishment?

STERN: No, I think - you know, what’s the wonderful thing about SIGA is they’ve actually found a cure for smallpox, and their whole mission in life is to do what I tried to do, you know, was to find ways to help people. And in this case, it’s to make sure that people are safe in case of a terrorist attack, so that health care workers don’t have to be vaccinated but can actually be cured if there was ever a smallpox.

[You just wanna help people? Gimme a break! It's not like you're volunteering for Mother Teresa. You're getting 30,000 stock options for going to a few board meetings (in addition to your SEIU pension of $150,000 a year). And you and SIGA are currently embroiled in two Congressional investigations about bid-rigging after SIGA got a no-bid federal contract feds for $2.8 billion. Come on!]

STERN: But I do believe probably a year later that sometimes in my life - and I’ll take full credit - you know, I was awfully tough on the private equity and the banks. Some of it was totally appropriate; other of it probably was a little bit out of hand, you know, and that we need to find a way to be a team in America a lot more and come together, because we’re in a global competition. China, Singapore, and people are doing rather well, and Team USA needs a better plan.

[Andy is really saying the following to the corporate CEOs: "Awww shucks, guys... You didn't really think I was serious when I was saying that stuff about the banks and private equity, did ya? Come on, I was just readin' from the talking points they handed me. And ya know what? I know better now. And I'm helping you guys get these tax cuts, right? We're on the same team... Team America. Come on... Anyone wanna get lunch? Hi five??]

WOODRUFF: And that was - you’re saying that was something that was hard for you to realize when you were inside?

STERN: Yeah, when I was inside, you know, I was an advocate, a pure, straightforward advocate for my members and for things to have happen that are good for working people and to hold people accountable, like the banks and the private equity companies. But I appreciate that we’re in a much bigger context right now, and you sort of step out and you see people looking for good jobs, trying to come together as a country and find a new economic plan to compete in the global exchange, and I think that needs a different level of teamwork.

[Basically, Andy is saying he's for sale. What’s the so-called “bigger context that we’re in right now?” It’s this: Andy is looking for high-paid gigs on corporate boards. Basically, SEIU’s President Emeritus has no real principles and no clear-headed analysis about what’s happening to workers. He’s out for some cold hard cash.]

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mary Kay Henry and the B.S. Meter

Today, Tasty is launching a new tool to help monitor the dishonesty and disinformation that has become a permanent feature of SEIU's daily life. It's called the "B.S. Meter."
How does it work? Simple. If you spout some crazy-ass falsehoods, fabrications and plain-old lies, Tasty will rank you on a scale of 1 to 100.
For its inaugural roll-out, Tasty has decided to aim his BS Meter at none other than SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. Here’s why.
As readers are no doubt aware, for the past 2 ½ years SEIU has used every gutter-level trick in the book to block, stall and delay the NLRB elections requested by tens of thousands of California workers who want to switch unions. The NLRB is supposed to schedule these elections within 45 days after receiving workers’ petitions.
But SEIU, knowing they’d lose the elections, hired armies of attorneys who filed bogus legal interventions to stall workers’ elections… sometimes for years. At California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, SEIU blocked workers’ election for more than 800 days.
At another California hospital, SEIU attorneys Bruce Harland, Manny Boigues and Glenn Rothner filed seven “blocking charges” in a two-day period – the equivalent of throwing multiple wrenches into the lame bureaucratic machinery of the NLRB.
This is why Tasty calls SEIU the “no free choice” union – because SEIU works overtime to stop its own union members from participating in free, democratic elections.
So, you can imagine that Tasty was a bit surprised this week when Mary Kay Henry sent out this personal press statement in press releases and email blasts:
One of the fundamental rights we all share as Americans is the right to vote - to vote for our elected officials and to vote whether to form a union.
In just the first six months of this year, we have witnessed unprecedented assaults on workers' rights in states across the country. Now, the NLRB is taking a positive step for workers who want to exercise their fundamental right to decide for themselves whether to form a union.
Too many workers have seen their efforts to join together on the job defeated by costly litigation and delaying tactics by their employer. Many never get the chance to make their voices heard at the ballot box. This rule change would protect a right that is central to our democracy - the right to vote…
It's time to restore some measure of balance and fairness to the system, starting with making sure workers have the right to vote whether to form a union without unnecessary delays.
WTF!! Are you kidding me!! This is like Jeffrey Dahmer issuing a press release to celebrate his lifetime of vegetarianism.
That’s why the B.S. Meter has given Mary Kay – and her shameless and pathetically dishonest message – an off-the-chart score of 150!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

LOTS More Problems for SEIU in California

Looks like yet another SEIU local union in California is in deep trouble. This time it’s Local 1000, which represents about 90,000 state government workers and is one of SEIU’s largest locals in California.

Check out this CBS TV news story called "SEIU Under Attack from Inside Out." CBS reports that, last year, 28,000 members filed forms to withhold their dues from Local 1000. Meanwhile, members are signing petitions to decertify SEIU so they can join an independent union. (To see the TV news story, you gotta wait a bit for the little TV to load on your screen after you click the hyperlink above).

At the end of the news story, the anchorman sums it up this way: "The SEIU is in big, big trouble..."

B/t/w, are there any large SEIU locals in Cali where members are NOT rebelling? Hmm… This makes Tasty think back to 2008, when SEIU’s Bill “Mr. Implosion” Ragen famously warned SEIU’s DC officials about the dangers of invading California: “It’s like Iraq. Easy to get in, and then…”

News from Strike at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital

Check out this picture of the strike line at 6:30am yesterday from CBS’s live coverage! Tasty hears it was quite a strike – giant picket lines and lots of energy.

There’s lots of news coverage, but Tasty especially likes this TV coverage on Telemundo. Ya gotta check it out! As Tasty always says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So even if you don’t speak Spanish, watch the images. (After the website loads, click on the little TV screen on the right side where it says “CLICK TO PLAY VIDEO” to see news for June 21.)

The first piece covers NUHW members’ strike at SVMH to protest the hospital’s plans for layoffs -- you can see footage of the picket line. Next, the TV announcer turns to a story about SEIU’s stalled contract talks in the same county, where government officials want to lay off 180 SEIU members. Take a look at the “fight-back campaign” that SEIU is waging. Quite a difference, wouldn’t ya say?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

SEIU Hit by Multi-Million-Dollar Spending Scandal

SEIU officials are pulling the plug on a failed scheme that wasted an estimated $20-$25 million of members’ dues dollars over the past three years, according to this internal SEIU memo that's discussed in this recent article. Here's what happened.

Remember the 2008 SEIU Convention in Puerto Rico? That’s where SEIU officials pushed through their “bold” idea of building nationwide 1-800 call centers to handle members’ grievances. They also decided to centralize local unions’ accounting, dues-collection and other "back-office services" into a national business office controlled by SEIU International.

Stern and Mary Kay Henry predicted that, by 2012, one million SEIU members would be participating in this new scheme. They even re-wrote SEIU’s constitution to permanently cement the new centralized system into SEIU.

After the 2008 convention, they set up a for-profit corporation called “Member Action Service Center (MASC).” They then got $2 million in tax breaks from the State of Michigan and pumped millions of dollars of SEIU members’ dues money into their for-profit venture.

One small problem: it was a massive failure. The price? An estimated $15-$20 million of wasted dues. Check out SEIU’s internal memo, which has statements like this:

“SEIU’s finance staff estimates that we will have spent $14 million in setting up and operating the MASC in its first year.” (p. 6)

“In no scenario we reviewed was the MASC self sufficient and no scenario included any possibility that SEIU’s investment would be recovered in the foreseeable future.” (p. 6)

"The President should appoint someone to develop a contingency plan that will prepare us for shutting down the operation... a course of action to mitigate the financial impact of a shutdown and the impact on locals already enrolled." (p. 11)

Tasty's got a few simple questions:

Will SEIU officials be held accountable for flushing $20-$25 million of members' dues money down the toilet?

If Bruce Raynor got axed for $2,300 in dinner receipts, shouldn't Mary Kay Henry, Eliseo Medina and Tom DeBruin pay a price for flushing millions of dues dollars down the drain?

Why have SEIU officials hidden the news of this financial fiasco from the membership?

Mary Kay? Eliseo? Tom? Your turn now…

Monday, June 20, 2011

SEIU Launches Strike-Breaking Effort in Salinas

SEIU's trustees are writing a new, shameful chapter in the history of California's healthcare unions. It's called "Strikebreaking."

A few weeks ago, Tasty described how SEIU is actively assisting Kaiser in an unsuccessful effort to break strikes by thousands of NUHW members who're fighting against health and pension cuts that SEIU officials already accepted in a back-room deal.

Well, SEIU has now spread its strike-breaking operation to Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, where 700 NUHW members are planning a one-day walkout on Tuesday after the hospital said it wants to lay off about 100 staff.

When SEIU's trustees still represented Salinas Valley Memorial’s workers, SEIU let the hospital eliminate 165 jobs. SEIU organizer Lauren Sullivan even threatened workers they'd get fired if they joined workers protesting against the layoffs. She also signed secret deals to furlough workers.

After decertifying SEIU and joining NUHW, workers waged a successful fight to stop 100 additional layoffs proposed by a Chicago-based consulting firm. NUHW's campaign got national press attention, including front-page coverage in the Los Angeles Times and MSNBC, along with this sum-up piece in the Huffington Post ("Hospital Workers, Facing Layoffs, Launch Counterattack on Executives"). The hospital's CEO was forced to resign after NUHW members' exposed a multi-million-dollar executive pension scandal.

Fast forward to today. As workers prepare for their next battle against the hospital, SEIU has sent in organizers – including SEIU organizer Mauricio Vides, pictured above in a photo from the weekend – to encourage workers to scab during the strike.

So far, the only people talking to SEIU are two workers who've already announced they're gonna scab because they support the hospital’s efforts to lay off their co-workers and cut the remaining workers’ benefits (even though the hospital is making millions in profits). Sounds like they’re perfect for SEIU. Who knows... maybe Dave Regan will give them a job?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Video of US Uncut's Smackdown of King Andy

Check out US Uncut's video of its smackdown of SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern at last week's event where Stern teamed up with corporate execs to push for tax cuts for giant corporations (see the full story below). B/t/w, doesn't Andy look quite comfy up there on the stage with the Big Bosses in suits?

Friday, June 17, 2011

King Andy Splits with Labor, Sides with Big Business

Along with the Congressional investigation into SIGA Technologies (see below), SEIU's President Emeritus Andy Stern took a few more smackdowns this week for showing his true pro-business colors.

On Wednesday, Stern appeared alongside the CEO of Duke Energy in Washington, DC to throw his support behind cutting taxes on the $1.3 trillion of profits that US corporations have stashed in the Cayman Islands and other overseas hideouts (b/t/w, it's really "TRILLION").

The pro-business publication "Bloomberg Businessweek" described it this way: "Former SEIU President Stern Splits with Labor, Backs Tax Holiday." In the article, the AFL-CIO delivered one of Stern's smackdowns, saying: “This is a really, really, really bad idea.”

And at the DC press event on Wednesday, a grassroots organization called "US Uncut," which fights corporate tax abuses, publicly confronted Stern, telling him: "You, sir, should be ashamed of yourself." Check out US Uncut's press release about the incident: "US Uncut Confronts Former SEIU President Andy Stern."

Tasty can just imagine the scene in the VIP room after the DC event: Andy, after pimping for the Big Boss during the press event, tries to pal around with all the CEOs in fancy suits. “Wanna go to lunch?,” mumbles Andy, as he stretches out his sweaty palm in search of more gigs on corporate Boards of Directors so he can expand the 35,000 stock options that he's already pocketed at SIGA Technologies.

Tasty wonders which of Andy’s buddies at the Purple Palace will be next to board the corporate gravy train. Hmmm...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stern in Hot Seat as Congress Probes SIGA's $2.8 billion Contract

SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern is in the hot seat again – this time for his role in a controversial $2.8 billion government contract awarded to SIGA Technologies, a bio-warfare firm that gave Stern more than 35,000 stock options to sit on the for-profit company's Board of Directors.

CNBC is reporting that two Congressional committees have launched probes into how SIGA got the no-bid federal contract to produce small pox antiviral medicine.

CNBC's coverage discusses both Stern and his cigar-chomping billionaire buddy, Ron Perelman, who owns 30% of SIGA's shares. Last year, SIGA brought Stern onto its board reportedly because of the extensive relationships he developed with government officials while on SEIU's payroll.

After SIGA got the $2.8 billion contract, the company's stock price jumped. According to a journalist at Forbes, Perelman stands to make $140 million in profit if SIGA's stock price increases by $10 per share. As for Andy's profits, good question.

The Huffington Post has written about Stern's cozy relationship with Perelman, who's the 64th richest person in the world (estimated net worth: $12 billion). As president of SEIU, Stern reportedly cut a sweetheart labor deal with Perelman, who owned a giant security firm called AlliedBarton. The HuffPo writes:

In September 2006, the SEIU surprised the labor movement by agreeing not to organize 10,000 security guards working for AlliedBarton, largely in the Philadelphia area, in exchange for organizing opportunities elsewhere. In 2008, the SEIU again surprised observers by not standing in the way of the sale of AlliedBarton to the private-equity firm Blackstone Group...
Observers speculate that Stern's cushy gig at SIGA may be Perelman's way of paying off for Stern for his earlier sweetheart deal on AlliedBarton. It also raises other ethical questions… like whether SEIU's President Emeritus is using his SEIU rolodex to make millions – the kind of revolving-door ethical violation that SEIU likes to criticize when other people do it.

So…as SEIU claims to be "fighting for a fair economy," SEIU's President Emeritus is "making bank with his billionaire buddy."

What's next? Well... we'll see what Congressional investigators can uncover. In the meantime, it stinks like all of the other corrupt dealings that seem to emerge from SEIU like a steady stream of effluent.