Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SEIU-UHW Hal Ruddick's Dirty Laundry in the Windy City

Hal Ruddick
Remember Hal Ruddick? He's the SEIU staffer who negotiated the $217 million pension cut at Catholic Healthcare West (CHW).

Well… Tasty has learned that Ruddick’s sell-out deal at CHW is simply par for the course. Check out this story, which comes complete with back-room deals, a raid on workers' health fund, and an effort to divert millions of tax dollars to try to fix Ruddick's collapse of workers’ health benefits. 

The story takes place in Chicago, where Ruddick was an SEIU staffer before parachuting into SEIU's California trusteeship in 2009. While in the Windy City, Ruddick was the lead negotiator for a labor contract with the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities that covered 8,000 SEIU nursing home workers.

During the negotiations, the nursing home bosses refused to cough up money for workers' wage increases. Ruddick, rather than fight the nursing home companies, decided to cut a backroom deal that allowed the bosses to raid workers' health insurance fund in order to finance a small wage increase. It was a great deal for the bosses, who didn't have to pay a penny for the new contract. And Ruddick was perfectly positioned to cut the deal since he also served as a trustee of workers health and welfare fund. (See below)

After the bosses halted their monthly contributions to workers’ health insurance fund, the fund quickly plummeted towards bankruptcy. In just 36 months, it lost $7.3 million -- or 75% of the money that it had built up over many years, according to IRS Form 5500s filed by the SEIU Local 4 Health and Welfare Fund.

So, with workers poised to lose all of their health coverage, Ruddick fled to California. Meanwhile, back in Chicago, others attempted to repair the damage left by Ruddick. With outstretched palms, they approached the Illinois legislature and introduced two bills (HB504 and HB503) in hopes of getting millions of tax dollars to save health coverage for the nursing home workers and their families. Here’s how SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana described the bills:

By then, Ruddick was living it up in sunny California and had long forgotten about the Chicago nursing home workers. Dave Regan had placed Ruddick -- a purple pillar of integrity -- on SEIU-UHW’s Executive Committee and handed him a $155,304 salary courtesy of SEIU-UHW members.

What's next for Ruddick? Tasty hears he's preparing to cut CHW workers' health benefits in the negotiations that are currently underway. Look out, CHW workers!