Sunday, October 30, 2011

1,200 Bay Area Hospital Workers Request Election to Decertify SEIU-UHW

Remember this post about SEIU-UHW officials' backroom deal to cut workers’ retirement plan, health insurance and other benefits at El Camino Hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area? Well, last week a local newspaper reported that the hospital's 1,200 workers filed a petition to decertify SEIU-UHW.

Tasty hears that Dave Regan and Co. are totally panicked about the request by workers. Bruce Harland (SEIU-UHW’s attorney) has apparently been doing back-flips to try to block the election -- even asking the labor board to impose an injunction to stop workers from voting.

And Tasty hears that SEIU officials -- including Lilly Vallee -- have been begging workers from nearby hospitals to come onto SEIU’s payroll as “Lost-Timers” to campaign for SEIU because SEIU doesn’t have enough workers inside the hospital to support it.  

What’s the story behind the decert effort? Apparently, the employees at El Camino Hospital are self-organized, and they collected 500 signatures on the decertification petition all by themselves. The petition seeks to decertify SEIU-UHW and doesn't ask to replace it with another union.

Why do workers want to get out of SEIU-UHW? According to the article, here’s what one worker said: 

  "What am I getting for my money?" asked Robert De Salvo. "I'm getting absolutely zero."

 Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Palace Intrigue at SEIU Local 99 – Part II

Let's get back to this story about SEIU Local 99 in Los Angeles… So, why is Bill Lloyd hanging onto his job as if it’s a jackpot-winning lotto ticket? Because it is!

At Local 99, Bill Lloyd acts as ­both the Executive Director and the Treasurer of the union, according to an annual filing with the U.S. Department of Labor. And in case the signature page isn't clear enough, a footnote that's part of the filing puts it this way: "The Executive Director performs the duties of the Principal Executive Officer and Financial Director."

Lloyd's broad executive powers may help explain his sky-high salary and perks. Check this out: In 2010, Lloyd pulled down $182,092 from the Purple Palace in Washington, DC, where he serves as an SEIU International Executive Board Member along with Dave Regan.

And to sweeten the pot, Lloyd gets a second paycheck from Local 99 in California. In 2010, he pulled down an additional $38,948.

And Lloyd even got a third payment of $3,599 from the SEIU California State Council. Altogether, that’s $224,000! Now, it's not quite as much as the $300K that "Wall Street" Dave Regan pocketed in 2010. But not too shabby.

But wait! That’s not all. Tasty forgot to mention Lloyd’s fat perks funded by SEIU’s members.

Perk No. 1:  A seven-year stay at the Wilshire Grand Hotel.  Even though Lloyd has been running the Los Angeles union since 2004, SEIU officials have spent buckets of dues dollars so Lloyd can continue to live in Oakland, which is about 400 miles away. Each week, SEIU flies Lloyd back and forth between the two cities – a one-hour flight each way.

Where does Lloyd stay while in LA? The Wilshire Grand Hotel, according to staffers at Local 99. In fact, just the other night, Tasty phoned the hotel at 213-688-7777 and actually reached Lloyd in his spiffy hotel room! If readers happen to visit the hotel, perhaps you’ll catch Bill in the hotel’s “hydrotherapy pool,” Jacuzzi, 24-hour fitness center, espresso bar or one of the four international restaurants located inside the hotel. (Tasty especially likes Point Moorea, “a unique upscale high-energy bar styled after the popular Tiki bars of the 1950’s and 60’s” with an "extensive martini menu.")

Perk No. 2:  Weekly air travel for seven years. Apparently, Lloyd has accumulated so many frequent flyer miles, he could travel to the moon for free!

Perk No. 3:  Seven years of car rentals. To complement his seven-year stint at the Wilshire Grand Hotel, SEIU has reportedly spent wads of workers’ dues money to rent cars for Lloyd while he’s in Los Angeles.

Now, to be fair, it's not a life of pure glamor and excess for poor Bill. You see... his rigorous travel and hotelier schedule kinda cuts into his work hours. In fact, union staffers tell Tasty that Lloyd usually rolls into the office midway through Monday and then jets out of town early on Friday so as to miss the rush at the airport.

And just imagine the strain that Bill will endure when he no longer has daily maid service, an onsite martini bar and 24-hour room service. From what Tasty hears, Neneki Lee may have to wait a long time before she's finally able to get behind Bill's big desk at the Local 99 office!

Palace Intrigue and Succession Struggles at SEIU Local 99

Tasty hears there’s been some interesting maneuvering by the head honchos at SEIU Local 99, which represents 25,000 classified school employees in Los Angeles. Here’s what’s going on.

Bill Lloyd has been running the local union ever since Andy Stern appointed him a trustee in 2004. Lloyd is supposed to be retiring soon, so the Purple Palace parachuted another DC official named Neneki Lee into Local 99 so she could inherit the reins of power when Lloyd packs his bags. Democracy in action!

Btw, Tasty hears that trusteeships have been real good for Lee and her partner, Laphonza Butler, who also comes from the Purple Palace and was appointed the trustee of SEIU Local 6434 in Los Angeles.

Back at Local 99, the SEIU-engineered succession plan was going hunky dory until Lloyd had a sudden change of heart and announced he wanted to keep his phat gig at Local 99 for a few more years. Tasty hears that Neneki Lee blew a gasket and quit her job in a rage.

Where’d she end up? Well, since there weren’t any trusteeship openings available immediately, she picked the next highest-paying racket in town. That’s right! She’s now pulling down big bucks as a staffer at Kaiser’s labor-management partnership:

And why did Lloyd decide to hang onto his position at Local 99? Tune in tomorrow and Tasty will tell the rest of this story, including details about Tasty’s hands-on detective work!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SEIU Insurance for Sale!

Remember this post about the SEIU insurance company that’s masquerading as SEIU Local 2008? (SEIU Local 2008 is also known as “SEANC”). Well, Tasty took a peek at SEANC’s website and found new details about the exciting insurance products it’s peddling to workers.

Now… in case you’re wondering whether you really need to buy “Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance” from SEIU, you might wanna read this important statement on SEANC’s website:
You can prepare for life's uncertainties and gain peace of mind by finding a SEANC Insurance program that fits your needs and your budget. Whether you are expecting your first child or retiring from a lifetime of public service, a big change can influence how much financial protection your family needs. Start today and take advantage of SEANC's group rates! Payroll deduction is available through most state agencies and the state retirement system.
That’s right, friends! You can simply deduct your monthly SEIU insurance premiums directly from your paycheck… along with your union dues and COPE contributions.

So what kind of insurance is SEIU peddling? Well, it’s a virtual “31 flavors” of insurance products. There’s everything from auto, dental, health and life to home, vision, accident, legal and disability insurance. And don’t forget to pick up special policies for cancer, “identity theft,” “hospital confinement” and “accidental dismemberment.” 

And... don’t miss this special offer! After all, doesn't every SEIU member need “pet insurance?” That’s right, folks! Have you been spending restless nights wondering what will happen if Fido passes a kidney stone while pissing on the neighbor’s lawn? Well, thanks to SEIU's “Healthy Paws Pet Insurance,” your worries are over! 

And just in case you’re thinking SEANC is all about selling its insurance products to workers, Tasty wants to set the record straight. Over the summer, the union actually held “three exclusive budget briefings” to explain the impacts of the state’s new budget on SEANC’s members, who are state employees. Here’s what SEANC’s website says:

Not feeling super reassured? Well, Tasty hopes that SEANC's slogan inspires some confidence... even if it's delivered by insurance salesman:

Monday, October 24, 2011

SEIU-UHW: More Crookin’ at Kaiser Permanente

It looks like union elections aren’t the only thing that SEIU-UHW officials are manipulating. Last week, SEIU officials apparently trashed the union’s rules in order to hand out a plum new job to a union official’s personal friend.

It happened at Kaiser Walnut Creek Medical Center… where management posted a new 40-hour position in the hospital’s Environmental Services Department. Under the union’s rules, new positions are supposed to be awarded according to seniority after an open bidding process by workers.

Unfortunately, SEIU Contract Specialist Linda Hunter conveniently advertised the new 40-hour position to just a handful of people, including her friend, who then miraculously won the new job. Other workers had more seniority, but were kept in the dark about the opening. Apparently, full-time jobs are in high demand because SEIU let Kaiser chop many workers’ 40-hour jobs down to 24 or 32 hours a week.

Sources tell Tasty that Kaiser Walnut Creek’s EVS workers are none too happy with SEIU these days… and that Linda Hunter has become “Linda the Hunted!”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Yolk in the Eye for Journalist Chris Rauber and SEIU's Steve Trossman

It looks like Steve Trossman (SEIU-UHW’s Communications Director) and Chris Rauber (a reporter at the San Francisco Business Times) have egg on their faces… again! Readers might remember Rauber from an earlier episode, when he published an article -- peddled by Trossman -- that got the facts all wrong on SEIU-UHW’s contract with Tenet Healthcare.

Apparently, Rauber is SEIU-UHW’s favorite go-to journalist because he simply re-prints SEIU’s press releases as full-blown articles without doing any fact-checking. (Talk about lazy journalism!)

How did Rauber accomplish his latest faceplant? This summer, NUHW and the Courage Campaign (an advocacy organization) asked California’s governor to investigate double-digit insurance rate hikes that Kaiser Permanente imposed on more than 300,000 California consumers. In letters to the governor, the two organizations pointed out that Kaiser failed to justify its rate hikes, as required by California law.

After the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an article about the complaints, Rauber printed his own SEIU-inspired article trashing the San Francisco Chronicle and its reporter. Rauber simply dismissed the complaint against Kaiser as “a bargaining ploy” and called the Chronicle’s article “odd.” (Hmmm, Tasty wonders why it’s "odd" for a newspaper to write about giant companies ripping off the public…)

Well, here’s the latest news. Government officials just finished their investigation and… guess what? NUHW and the Courage Campaign were right! Kaiser was over-charging California consumers by as much as $30 million. And Kaiser, which is swimming in $5.7 billion in profits, has agreed to partially roll back its rate hikes on the 300,000 consumers.

So what is SEIU’s "dynamic duo of disinformation" saying about these latest developments? As far as Tasty can tell, there’s not a peep from Trossman and Rauber. Must be busy cleaning all that egg off their faces.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More Rigged Votes at SEIU-UHW

It sounds like Kaiser Permanente’s hospital in Walnut Creek, CA is not the only place where Dave Regan and Co. have been rigging elections to put their favorite people in union positions. After Tasty posted this piece, readers sent in more reports. Here’s one:

At Kaiser San Francisco Medical Center, SEIU-UHW rigged an election for Lisa Cox, who last month was busy using her Shop Steward position to unleash a thuggish strike-breaking operation against her co-workers. Cox reportedly teamed up with Kaiser’s supervisors to drag SEIU-UHW’s rank-and-file members into managers’ offices and then threaten them with discipline and termination if they honored the one-day strike by Kaiser’s 21,000 workers. 

So how did Cox become a Shop Steward in the first place? Was she elected by her co-workers, as required by union rules?  Not by a long shot. Cox, who’s widely disliked by her co-workers, actually lost an election in her department even though SEIU officials stacked the deck in her favor. They ran the election on a holiday, and didn't even announce it to workers in hopes of controlling the votes.

With Cox defeated, what did SEIU do next? They re-ran the rigged election, but with even more rigging! SEIU held a second “election” for Cox in the Ophthalmology Department… where Cox doesn’t even work… and which is located in an entirely different building. Plus, SEIU never announced the election to the Ophthalmology Department’s workers, meaning that Cox’s one vote made up a large part of the final vote tally.

Way to go, Dave Regan! With rigged ratification votes, loyalty oaths, and fraudulent union elections, SEIU has become quite the Banana Republic!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SEIU Insurance Exec on the Lam after Embezzling $350K

Readers might’ve noticed that it was none other than Brandi Madewell who wrote one of the memos about SEIU’s brave new experiment in "insurance unionism." Ironically, Madewell is the SEIU official who embezzled $350,000 from SEIU Local 521’s own insurance company while the union’s president, Kristy Sermersheim, was sending the 37-year-old Madewell on union-paid junkets to North Carolina to study SEIU’s latest insurance industry innovations.

Madewell was also featured in this earlier post, where we learned how she used Local 521’s insurance company to fuel her addiction to internet gambling. (Hey Mary Kay, this SEIU insurance thing sounds like a super good idea!!)

Well, what ever happened to Madewell? Is she being questioned by Perry Mason in a stuffy courtroom somewhere?  Tasty is no lawyer, but he suspects Madewell could make a pretty compelling courtroom defense by pointing out that it actually took her several years to embezzle the $350,000… while Dave Regan made off with $300,000 of workers’ money in just one year!

As for Madewell, Tasty sees she hasn’t landed in court quite yet. The SEIU insurance exec, who's facing three years for grand theft, apparently pulled a “Bonnie and Clyde” and hit the road... with the police in hot pursuit. An article in the Bakersfield Californian begins this way: “Brandi Marcella Madewell, where are you?”

And check out this TV news coverage describing how Madewell made off with $350K:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SEIU’s Bold New Vision for the Future?

Ever wonder what SEIU will look like in the future? Well, it may look a lot more like “AETNA” than the “AFL-CIO.” That’s according to internal documents that offer a revealing glimpse into SEIU’s newest local union.

At SEIU’s most recent convention in Puerto Rico, Andy Stern and Mary Kay Henry literally gushed about SEIU’s newest affiliate, the “State Employees Association of North Carolina” or “SEANC.”  The local, which represents 55,000 state employees, is now called “SEIU Local 2008.”

What does Local 2008 actually do? According to memos penned by two officials at SEIU Local 521, SEIU’s newest union is pretty much a giant insurance company that spends its time selling insurance products to workers. The two California officials visited North Carolina and then wrote memos for Local 521’s president, Kristy Sermersheim, about their experiences.

According to a memo authored by Chuck Waide (Regional Director of SEIU Local 521), “the primary function” of Local 2008 is “selling insurance.” In fact, Local 2008 has 14 insurance salespeople and, says Waide, is “very efficient and well organized in marketing voluntary insurance programs” to the union’s members. Here’s an excerpt from Waide’s memo:

And how many staff people are actually available to help the union’s 55,000 members with grievances, arbitrations, contract enforcement, bargaining, etc?  According to Waide:

 Waide, in an apparent effort to reassure his readers, then writes:  

Now, Tasty ain’t no Einstein, but how can you be a union if you have no “member committees dealing with labor relations,” “no shop steward program” and just 3 Union Reps for 55,000 members?

So where does workers’ dues money go? Good question. Perhaps it pays the salaries of all the insurance salespeople and bill collectors.

In Tasty's book, this ain't no "bold" and "visionary" future for the labor movement. It's a frickin' nightmare on Elm Street! The memos offer one more sign of the ongoing AETNA-ization of SEIU. After all, SEIU’s “call centers” for handling workers’ grievances fit neatly into this vision that's styled on the insurance industry.

Now, that's not to say that this new direction may be plenty "bold" and "visionary" for certain of SEIU's elite officials. After all, Mary Kay Henry and President Emeritus Andy Stern would be next in line to become the CEO of this giant insurance company (a.k.a. “union”). In fact, Tasty bets that Dave Regan is simply salivating at the chance to pocket more money, on top of his $300,000 salary, once he gets a seat on the insurance company’s board of directors!

P.S. In case you wanna read the full memos from the officials at SEIU Local 521, you can find them here.