Saturday, September 10, 2011

Leader of Staffers' Jailbreak Brings History Like Regan’s

Remember when Mary Kay Henry put the kibosh on a mini-exodus of staffers from SEIU-UHW? Well, Tasty hears the jailbreak was organized by two of SEIU’s trusteeship staffers: Steve Matthews and Gilda Valdez.  

Over the summer, Matthews became the latest in a rapidly changing lineup of Executive Directors at SEIU Local 721 in Southern California.

Readers may remember that last spring, Local 721’s Executive Director John Tanner was suddenly ejected from his corner office during a palace coup organized by Raahi Reddy. Reddy lasted only a few months before she was out on the street… only to be replaced by Matthews.

Once Matthews settled into his comfy corner office, he recruited Gilda Valdez (a staff director at SEIU-UHW) to jump ship and take a bunch of staff with her.

So… what’s in store for Local 721’s members now that Matthews is in charge? Well, Tasty has a few words of warning:  Keep Matthews away from members’ bargaining tables… and their beds.

As for the bargaining tables… during the trusteeship, Matthews was the Chief Negotiator for SEIU-UHW’s members at Pacifica Hospital of the Valley in Southern California, where he negotiated this deal with the following terms:
  • A 5% pay cut for all workers
  • Suspension of the hospital’s contributions to workers’ retirement plan
  • Loss of one paid holiday
  • Waiving workers’ right to scheduled wage reopener negotiations “including all rate increases and all aspects of compensation.”
Now, to be fair, the for-profit hospital was facing bankruptcy at the time. But here’s the rub: Matthews’s deal is light-years away from a contract negotiated by NUHW members under even more difficult circumstances. NUHW members recently negotiated a contract with Doctors Medical Center San Pablo, a public safety-net hospital facing a bankruptcy fueled by plummeting tax revenues and skyrocketing numbers of uninsured patients. Even so, NUHW’s members successfully negotiated a contract with no reductions in their wages or benefits.

And get this... workers did it after nearly two years of Dave Regan working overtime to sabotage their contract. In 2009, after the workers voted out SEIU, Regan filed bogus legal challenges that stalled SEIU’s departure until 2011. In the meantime, SEIU kept on collecting workers’ union dues but refused to lift a finger to negotiate their expired contract. Instead, SEIU stood by as the hospital’s finances tanked towards bankruptcy. Luckily, Regan and Matthews never got a chance to ink one of their trademark sell-out deals with the boss.

So what about Matthews and members’ beds? Well, when Steve was the Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Local 399 in Los Angeles, he was forced to resign after having an extra-marital affair with one of the union’s Executive Board members. Now, it’s clear that SEIU’s higher-ups consider such behavior a necessary prerequisite for getting appointed as a California trustee (ahem, Dave, we’re talking about you). In fact, many reports -- like the one below -- indicate that Regan did a lot more than sleep around. So Tasty advises Local 721 members to take a few precautions... like no fancy couches in his office!