Monday, January 30, 2012

SEIU's Dave Regan Reveals Plans for Concessions at Kaiser Permanente

John August and Dave Regan
A reader sent along some highly revealing information about SEIU’s plan for upcoming negotiations with Kaiser Permanente, which begin in March.

It turns out that last week, the "partnership unions" -- the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions -- held a "delegates conference" in San Jose, California where Dave Regan and other union officials described their plans for the bargaining. One of the delegates sent along some clips of speeches by Regan and John August. August is a former SEIU official who now heads the Coalition of Kaiser Unions and is the lead negotiator for the bargaining with Kaiser.

So what's SEIU's plan for upcoming negotiations? According to a delegate: "Here's what's clear from the meeting. Regan and John August have already cut a deal with Kaiser to cut our benefits. And now they're trying to get the members to accept their deal."

The delegate describes how Regan and August started the meeting by feeding the delegates tons of gloom-and-doom about the U.S. economy, unemployment, etc. Of course, Regan and August conveniently forgot to tell the delegates that Kaiser is making record profits of $5.6 billion, gives eight separate pensions to each of its top executives, and handed CEO George Halvorson a $1 million pay increase last year.

Regan then proceeded to tell the Kaiser workers that they’re overpaid… and that Kaiser wants to take away their benefits. Check out this one-minute clip from Regan's speech.

Sounds like the Boss talking, right? Would you want him bargaining your contract?

At this point, Regan starts to “sell” the delegates on his idea of “getting in front of Kaiser’s cuts” by having workers preemptively offer to cut their own benefits so as to improve Kaiser's cost structure! Regan delivers his sales-pitch in a tough-guy voice, telling delegates that the partnership unions need to “call Kaiser to a higher place.” So what’s this “higher place?” Regan explains that it’s an expanded Wellness Program for Kaiser employees that he calls, “Let’s Get Healthy Kaiser.” (Tasty is not kidding.)

In a hint at the Wellness wonders to come, Regan describes the kinds of benefit cuts that other workers are facing: “If you're overweight, you pay 10% more for your health care. If you smoke, you pay 20% more. If you do this or that, you pay more. That's what's going on out there.”

And that's not all... Regan says his Wellness cuts are just one of "the 4 or 5 things” that workers need to give up to Kaiser. It's not clear what the others are. And, in a clear indication of SEIU's plan to sell out its members, Regan offers no plan whatsoever to the delegates for fighting Kaiser’s takeaways. In fact, Regan says SEIU can’t go to the bargaining table and simply say “No” to Kaiser’s cuts.

After Regan finishes his speech, his tag-team partner, John August, takes the mic and tells the delegates that the Coalition's "Executive Committee" has already approved Regan's plan. August then starts channeling Andy Stern, telling delegates about the need to be a “21st century union..." which basically translates into selling out the members. According to one delegate's account: “You know it's total bullshit when union leaders start telling us we need to be ‘innovative’ and ‘transformational.’ When they start using those words, the bullshit meter in my head starts exploding.”

Check it out for yourself. Here's a 20-minute clip of speeches by Regan and John August:

Friday, January 27, 2012

SEIU Official's Love Affair Lands Him on Paid Leave

It looks like Dave Regan didn’t offer very good advice to his buddy, Steve Matthews (the top official at SEIU Local 721), who’s been waist deep in a dramatic, extra-marital affair with an SEIU staffer.

The last time we tuned into this scandal, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry had dispatched a pair of “personal representatives” to “investigate allegations against Local 721’s executive director.” And Dave Regan was overheard offering advice to Matthews about how to manage the deepening crisis.

Meanwhile, staffers at Local 721 described how Steve’s wife was repeatedly phoning the union’s office in a desperate attempt to track down Steve’s girlfriend, who’d conveniently disappeared on extended sick leave from her job as an SEIU organizer. Union staffers busily exchanged text messages about the latest lurid details while the union’s rank-and-file members wondered how their union hall had become a set for a particularly trashy episode of “Entertainment Tonight” or “the Jerry Springer Show.”

So what’s the latest? Well, it looks like Matthews has been caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Union officials recently circulated the following notice announcing they’ve placed Matthews on paid administrative leave. Meanwhile, Matthews’s girlfriend is apparently still on paid sick leave… so it's possible that the two of them are enjoying a "love" vacation funded by SEIU’s members. 

Here’s the announcement:
From the desk of Bob Schoonover

Following the Executive Board meeting held yesterday January 11, 2012, the Executive Director was placed on paid administrative leave. Please direct any questions regarding this matter to me. All media inquiries should be referred to the Director of Communications Marie Lemelle.

At this time, staff who reported directly to the Executive Director should now report to the Chief of Staff, Gilda Valdez.

It is more important than ever that we stay focused and remain committed to improving the lives of our members and their families. Let’s continue to work together to preserve and maintain the strength and integrity of our union.

In solidarity,
Bob Schoonover
So what’s next? Well, Tasty will report on the next scenes of this sordid drama. Meanwhile, Tasty wonders how long it will take before Regan’s multiple extra-marital flings finally catch up to him… especially his trysts with SEIU staffers and members. Hmmm… Tasty thinks this whole web of SEIU love scandals would make a particularly interesting episode for the Jerry Springer Show: Steve, Dave and all their ex’s on one stage... and dressed in various shades of purple!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SEIU's Lifeline to Crocodile Dundee

It looks like SEIU-UHW officials had to go all the way to Australia to get some help for their campaign at Kaiser Permanente. According to Kaiser workers, SEIU has flown in a dozen staffers from an Australian union called "Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU)." Last year, the union underwent an SEIU-styled re-branding effort that changed its name to "United Voice."

Tasty hears that, for nearly a decade, SEIU's Andy Stern has been cultivating a relationship with the Aussie union and its top official, Louise Tarrant, by flying to sunny Melbourne and Sydney on SEIU members' dime. Apparently, SEIU's President Emeritus really digs the international travel... especially because it allows him to escape the cold winters on the East Coast!

So what are the Aussies doing in California? Well, Kaiser workers have spotted them with SEIU staffers patrolling Kaiser hospitals in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Santa Rosa, South San Francisco, etc in the run-up to next week's strike. At one hospital, an Aussie attended the EVS Department's "group huddle" during shift-change and tried to promote SEIU to the assembled workers, who were under the watchful eye of a Kaiser supervisor.

An astute EVS worker quickly asked the purple-shirted Aussie: "So... are you gonna be honoring the picket line during next Tuesday's strike?" As the tongue-tied Aussie stared down at her shoes, it became crystal clear that the Aussies are not super interested in international labor solidarity. Instead, it looks like they've parachuted into California to work alongside their purple-shirted buddies and Kaiser's multi-millionaire bosses to try to undermine next week's strike by 22,000 workers from three unions.

So, Kaiser workers... when you see an Aussie in your facility, ask them this:  Back in Australia, does your union normally undermine workers who are fighting to defend their pensions and health insurance? Well... WTF are you doing to California's workers? Time to call Qantas and get your ass back to Australia!

Rebellion inside the Regan Regime

It looks like things are spiraling downwards at SEIU-UHW. Last month, more than 40 members of SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board demanded a meeting with Dave Regan to address a deepening crisis at the union... including the lack of democracy, the failure to represent union members (or even return their phone calls), SEIU's loyalty oaths, disrespect towards members (including by SEIU's Joe Simoes), the deepening crisis in SEIU-UHW's Kaiser Division, etc.

A source gave Tasty a copy of the materials, including this email from Alisha Blinks (an Executive Board member) to other board members. (FYI- the bold and underlined text is exactly how it appeared in the original email.)
From: Alisha Blinks
Subject: Meeting with Dave Agenda
Date: Monday, December 12, 2011, 4:01 AM

Good Evening Everyone;
Below you will find the agenda for Tuesday's meeting with Dave.  We will be meeting first at the UHW office among ourselves from 7-730PM and then with Dave.  These membership specific issues should cover the North and South.  Just remember this is only the beginning of the talks to get our union back on track.  I will keep notes to report out to the South.  There will be NO AGREEMENTS MADE WITH THIS REGIME UNTIL WE ARE ALL TOGETHER AS ONE BODY!  


Day: Tuesday December 13 2011
Time: 7:00PM (7-730PM will be a quick briefing)
Place: UHW Office
          560 Thomas L Berkeley Way
          Oakland CA
Blinks's email also contains a two-page memo -- entitled “Crux of Complaint” -- that paints a dire picture of life under the "Regan regime." (A complete copy of the memo is here). Here's what it says:
The Kaiser Division is in crisis and below is the reasons why we cannot function with these problems any longer.  Deadlines aren’t being kept, staff is not showing up to appointments and the support for the leaders at the facilities from staff is absent from this equation. The usage of the Steward Councils to promote organizing campaigns, pushing of agendas not ratified, constant aggravation to the members requesting their loyalty; where is the Kaiser Division’s loyalty to us?  No trainings, no regional input, no report outs but only consistent training of how to organize, agitate a member or give a CRE. Members want protection, security and fairness from their employer and their union. The priorities of this leadership and the governing body are on opposite ends and it is our responsibility to correct this as a whole and it first starts with listening on the leaderships part…  

The Kaiser Division Director [Joe Simoes] and Sr. Staff members are making inappropriate comments to rank and file leaders, along with mischievous behavior that's inexcusable.  This leadership continues to act divisive and pitting members against one another.  It is disrespectful, disheartening and will no longer be tolerated.  The democracy this union scarcely holds onto is beginning to rapidly diminish.  Instead of forming a cohesive working relationship which can benefit us all we are constantly apologizing to our members for failed processes.  Moreover, calls from staff aren’t being returned, emails not responded to and it has reached the point where members and leaders are just being ignored. Our house is not in order…

This membership body has been patient, transparent and forthright in wanting to partner, however this behavior has not been reciprocated by the current leadership. This sixty plus year union is the way it is because of the knowledge of our leaders, the protection of our members and unity we share.  We are tired of being in a race to the BOTTOM!
The memo also includes an agenda for the board members' meeting with Regan that includes these complaints (b/t/w, "KDSC" refers to the Kaiser Division Steward Council):
  • Violation of the Constitution/KDSC By-Laws and Policies
  • Flawed Communication
  • Staff Absenteeism in Kaiser
  • Failure to Adhere to the Constitution and Bylaws
  • Failure to Respect Member Ratifications
Wow... The documents are quite a stunning indictment of Dave Regan... especially because they're authored by insiders who've been longtime loyal supporters of Regan/SEIU. For example, the group includes people like John Duff, Tinesha Thomas, Shirley Shirlee, Donna Norton, Darnita Garry, Linda Corkill, Diane Barton, Tonya Salcido, Tamika Harris, Treasell Sanders, Jennie Edney, China Newton, etc. And the fact that so many of the union's board members are in open revolt against Regan underscores the seriousness of the problems gripping the union.

So what sorts of "agreements" are the former loyalists trying to extract from the "Regan regime?" And what maneuvers will Regan try to use to either buy off or marginalize his critics? Put on your body armor!

Monday, January 23, 2012

SEIU's YouTube Star Is Back!

Remember this video of SEIU staffer Liz Castillo as she bullies workers and then smashes a camera to the floor inside the cafeteria of a California hospital? The video went viral on YouTube, where it's now been viewed 72,000 times. Castillo can be heard shouting at an SEIU-UHW member dressed in scrubs and then saying, "Shut the f*ck up, you f*cking asshole" as she prepares to backhand a seated observer.

When Castillo's purple-shirted assault became a YouTube phenomenon, SEIU officials canned Castillo in hopes of managing the fallout from SEIU's other attacks... like the death threats against workers at Kaiser Permanente and SEIU's outrageous attacks against Dolores Huerta, the 80-year-old co-founder of the United Farm Workers along with Cesar Chavez.

So what's Castillo up to these days? Has she landed a career on a Detroit roller derby team? Well... kind of. A reader reports that she's back at SEIU-UHW, where her bullyboy exploits caught the eye of Dave Regan, who reportedly instructs SEIU staffers to intimidate workers who criticize SEIU. Here's the reader's report:
Just in case you didn't know, Liz Castillo is back working with UHW- she was seen in the smoking area!!! (which she visits 20X a day) early this week. She was telling the group of smokers that she is back! as an organizer!!! God Help Us!!! 
More..... this week the craziest woman in UHW Flannery Hauck (crazier than Liz) was seen lecturing! torturing a group of organizer going over a rap for a campaign she is leading "Lets Get Healthy California" . I felt sorry for those organizers in the second floor.... welcome to the "Flannery concentration camp"
Well, California workers, look for Liz in a hospital near you. Tasty hears she'll soon be playing an integral role in Regan's "Let's Get Healthy, California!" campaign by telling workers to "Shut the f*ck up and fill out the f*cking survey." Way to go, SEIU!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

SEIU’s Wellness Wonderland

It looks like SEIU is pushing Wellness Programs far and wide – not just at Catholic Healthcare West. Wellness Programs, of course, are the newest corporate scheme for cutting workers' health benefits, as described in this New York Times article.

In Oregon, SEIU Local 503 signed off on a Wellness Program -- which it calls the “Health Engagement Model” -- that forces state workers to pay $20 per month if they refuse to fill out wellness surveys.

So why are workers reluctant to fill out the surveys? Check out the kinds of questions that Kaiser Permanente is asking its employees to answer as part of its so-called “Total Health Assessment.”

Hmmm... would you wanna tell your boss how much alcohol you consume weekly… or whether you take “recreational drugs” or "prescription drugs that aren’t yours" …or how many sexual partners you've had in the past year?

Since workers are not too keen on the surveys, SEIU-UHW has been busy working with Kaiser officials to push the surveys on the membership.

Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW officials are working hand-in-glove with executives at the Daughters of Charity Health System to force Wellness Programs down the throats of several thousand workers. In SEIU’s latest Orwellian effort, SEIU officials have prepared a set of benefit cuts and are trying to sell them to the membership as “innovative,” “bold” and “exciting” proposals that are part of SEIU’s so-called “Let’s Get Health California!” program.

SEIU-UHW's efforts at Daughters of Charity are just like the campaign of despicable deceit and deception that it ran against 13,000 workers at Catholic Healthcare West.  

So what kind of deal has Dave Regan cut with the corporate chiefs at Daughters of Charity? Well, take a look at this not-too-subtle hint. It’s a complaint sent by the California Nurses Association to one of the Daughters of Charity hospitals about the company's efforts to make RNs pay “significantly higher contributions towards the cost of their medical benefits” if the RNs fail to fill out “wellness assessments.”

Stay tuned for more news!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SEIU-UHW's Stealth Cuts at Sutter Health

While most people celebrated the New Year with champagne and fireworks, the 1st of January brought a very different mood to SEIU-UHW members at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Northern California.  On January 1st, the hospital implemented a “stealth” takeaway of workers’ health benefits that was negotiated by SEIU’s trustees back in 2009. Here’s what happened:

For decades, Sutter Delta Medical Center has paid all­ of the monthly premiums for its employees’ PPO health insurance plan. On January 1st, the hospital suddenly began deducting about $80 a month from workers’ paychecks for family health coverage, and less for individual coverage. To put it in perspective, $80 a month is equivalent to a wage cut of 50 cents an hour for a full-time worker.

So where did the health cuts come from? Well, back in 2009, Dave Regan and Co negotiated a provision in the union contract that requires workers to pay 5% of the health insurance premiums beginning on January 1, 2012 -- similar to the recent cuts at this Northern California hospital that are making waves.

And that’s not all. Regan’s deal at Sutter Delta Medical Center also established two-tiered benefits for employees. New employees must pay even more for their health coverage: 15% of their premiums -- or about $240 per month for family coverage. For full-time workers, that translates into a wage cut of $1.50 per hour. 

Here's the language that Regan and Co negotiated:

Why did Regan sign off on the cuts? Is the hospital struggling to make ends meet? Hardly. Last year, the 140-bed hospital pulled down $8 million in profits, according to state records. And the hospital’s parent company, Sutter Health, made nearly a billion dollars in profit. In fact, Sutter Health -- like Kaiser Permanente -- is one of the most profitable hospital chains in the nation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Very Slow Lerner

Tasty hears that SEIU's Stephen Lerner has finally realized that his purple pals are not too keen on him. Sources tell Tasty that, several weeks ago, SEIU officials fired Lerner from his position as a top SEIU staffer and a member of SEIU's International Executive Board.

It's been a long, slow learning curve for Lerner.  In 2008, Andy Stern and Mike Fishman (President of SEIU Local 32BJ) ousted Lerner from his position as the head of SEIU's Property Services Division and demoted Lerner.

Next, Stern assigned Lerner to lead a slimy attack campaign against Sal Rosselli and California's healthcare workers after they introduced proposals to democratize SEIU during the union's 2008 convention. Lerner's nefarious role in the thuggish campaign was revealed when insiders leaked an infamous email describing the Purple Palace's efforts to either "implode" SEIU-UHW or wage an Irak-like invasion against it. The email -- from June of 2008 -- has lines like this: "Trusteeship would be difficult -- it's like Iraq, easy to get in and then a slog. Implosion would be a better outcome, but what will it take?" The leaked email snagged a whole posse of plotting SEIU staffers, including Bill Ragen, Stephen Lerner, Tom DeBruin, Kirk Adams, Denise Poloyac and attorney Edgar James.

In 2010, a demoted Lerner became the punching bag for SEIU's Scott Courtney, who'd been elevated to a top job inside the Purple Palace. Later that year, Courtney put Lerner on a month-long administrative leave for "insubordination" after Lerner refused to follow Courtney's orders.

At this point, many observers expected Lerner to catch a clue and bolt the Purple Palace with a few tattered shreds of remaining dignity. Tasty hears that Lerner planned to deliver a courageous ultimatum to SEIU's Mary Kay Henry, but as he prepared to enter Henry’s office, a pair of testicles dropped to the floor.

So… Lerner completed his month-long "time-out," and then slinked back to the Purple Palace where he worked on SEIU’s effort to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street movement.

And this brings us to the latest chapter in this pitiful saga:  Lerner's termination. Tasty hears Lerner was offed by his arch-nemesis, Scott Courtney, who seized control of Lerner's project and budget dollars.

So what's next for Lerner? Looks like he's taken a page from Stern's playbook of self-promotion. Just today, Lerner set up a Facebook page where he describes himself as "a leading critic of Wall Street bankers" and "a frequent contributor on national television and radio programs..." Sounds like Lerner will soon be competing with Andy Stern to hustle speaker fees at conferences near you!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Disarray inside SEIU's Purple Palace

Henry and Hudson during a friendlier moment
Tasty hears that the Purple Palace is the scene of fierce infighting among top SEIU officials as they struggle to cope with the union's bargaining failures, dissatisfied membership, and growing decertifications.

According to several sources, one of the main battle lines is between SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and Gerry Hudson, who is one of SEIU's six "Executive Vice Presidents." In SEIU's hierarchy, Hudson and the other five "EVPs" are the highest ranking officers after the President and Secretary-Treasurer.

Sources report that Henry has worked to marginalize Hudson by stripping many of his responsibilities and assigning them to her allies. Meanwhile, Hudson is rumored to be rallying his supporters in a campaign to unseat Henry from her presidential position during the union's upcoming convention in May.

Can Hudson unseat Henry? It's not far-fetched. Hudson comes from SEIU 1199 New York, where he retains support from 1199NY's president, George Gresham. In SEIU's upcoming presidential election, 1199NY controls about 20% of all of the votes that'll be cast. (Under SEIU's system, rank-and-file union members don't actually get to vote for the president -- instead, members' votes are "delegated" to local union officials).

With 1199NY's votes in his pocket, Hudson wouldn't need many more SEIU unions to jump on board to reach a majority. In fact, Tasty hears that Hudson has already been in successful discussions with 1199NY's Gresham, and that's why Hudson's campaign efforts are emerging for broader air-play.

As the power struggle between Henry and Hudson intensifies, Tasty hears there's also deepening disarray at multiple other levels of SEIU, including aggressive battles over resources, staff defections, and midnight firings of top staffers. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SEIU-UHW's Excellent Dining with the Boss

Remember all the reports about workers who've been unjustly fired and screwed over... while getting zero support from Dave Regan's SEIU-UHW? They include this stunning case, which is described in emails written by SEIU’s own Shop Stewards.

Well, Tasty hears that Dave Regan has taken bold and decisive steps to address this problem. What did he do? He appointed one of the union's staffers to a new position called "Director of Representational Excellence"!  (Tasty is not kidding! Hmmm… what’s that saying about putting lipstick on a pig?).

So who's the Director of Excellence? Marcus Hatcher.  Tasty did a little checking on Hatcher, and unfortunately Hatcher is not so excellent… unless you consider bedding with the Boss to be “excellent.”

It turns out that Hatcher used to be the “Director of Field Representation” for SEIU Local 1107 in Las Vegas, where he negotiated contracts for workers at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and other worksites.

At most unions, it’s strictly prohibited for a union staffer to meet privately with the Boss or take gifts from the Boss, especially when the staffer is representing the Boss's workers. Unfortunately, it looks like Hatcher skipped this part of his “Ethics 101” class.

A receipt -- which was uncovered by CBS during its investigation of a corruption scandal involving executives at the Las Vegas Convention Authority – indicates that Hatcher had a private one-on-one lunch with Mark Olson, the Vice President of Human Resources at the Las Vegas Convention Authority, in 2009. SEIU’s 'Director of Field Representation' and the Boss’s 'V.P. of Human Resources' lunched at P.F. Chang’s inside Planet Hollywood on the Las Vegas Strip. According to a travel site, this “two-story eatery welcomes guests with a warm atmosphere of dark woods and earth tones.” Perfect place for intimate dining with the Boss!

And who paid for the meal? The Boss (who actually submitted Hatcher’s business card with the receipt). And what did the Boss get in return from Hatcher? Well, my friends, that’s the $64,000 question… and the reason why union staffers are not supposed to be dining with the Boss.

At most unions, Hatcher’s actions would be considered unethical and pathetic. But at Regan’s SEIU-UHW -- which has embraced back-room deals as its primary bargaining strategy -- Olson is now heralded as the “Minister of Excellence.”

P.S.  Are you one of the many SEIU-UHW members who can’t get a call back from the union… or who’s been waiting two years for the union to schedule your arbitration or hear about your grievance… or who’s been forced to file a “Duty of Fair Representation” charge (DFR) with the NLRB because SEIU-UHW simply refuses to help you and your co-workers? Well, Tasty thought you might wanna give a jingle to the “Director of Representational Excellence”!

Marcus D. Hatcher
SEIU-UHW Director of Representational Excellence
213-321-4506 (cell)
323-888-8221 (work)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Workers Seek Exit from SEIU-UHW

In the latest blow to Dave Regan and Co, a group of 200 SEIU-UHW members has requested an NLRB election to decertify the union so they can become “non-union.”

The effort is underway at O’Connor Woods, a retirement facility located near Stockton in Northern California. Tasty hears that the workers -- including Certified Nursing Assistants, Patient Care Attendants, Housekeepers, Dietary Workers, Maintenance Workers and Laundry Workers -- are totally fed up with the SEIU-UHW's lack of support for its members. 

Here’s the NLRB form that records workers' request for a decertification election: "A substantial number of employees assert that the certified or currently recognized bargaining representative is no longer their representative."


Monday, January 9, 2012

SEIU’s Zac Altefogt Joins Purple Pinocchios

SEIU at Labor Notes and Zac Altefogt
Remember how SEIU officials rigged the contract-ratification votes at Luther Manor Nursing Home and Mercy Health Partners’ Hackley Hospital… even going so far as to stuff ballot boxes and block union members from voting?

Well, here’s what SEIU’s Communications Director Zac Altefogt told the Muskegon Chronicle after Hackley’s workers delivered a landslide defeat to SEIU in last week’s NLRB election:

“We're a democratic union, and that was their choice,” Altefogt said of a group that SEIU began representing in 2007 at the time of the Mercy-Hackley hospital merger. “We provided this group with a strong first contract. People can join a union or leave it at any time.”
Yeah right… Looks like Zac has conveniently forgotten how SEIU has blocked workers’ NLRB elections for up to 2 ½ years in an effort to stop them from leaving SEIU. Or how SEIU committed such severe violations of federal labor laws that a judge tossed out the largest private-sector union election in the past 70 years.  

Well, it turns out this isn’t the first time that Zac has massively misinformed the Michigan media. Readers might remember an infamous episode that took place in Dearborn, Michigan in 2008. That’s when SEIU sent busloads of people to attack a Labor Notes conference attended by union reformers from 50 unions throughout the U.S.  During the attack, SEIU knocked workers to the floor and even bloodied a 67-year-old woman who ended up in a nearby hospital's emergency room. And tragically, an SEIU homecare worker named David Smith died of a heart attack during SEIU’s assault.

So how did Zac -- after summoning every ounce of integrity -- describe SEIU’s attack on the Labor Notes conference to Detroit’s Metro Times newspaper?
"It was a peaceful protest," says Zac Altefogt, spokesman for SEIU Healthcare Michigan.
Just recently, Tasty discovered that Zac knew the event wasn’t gonna be a peaceful even before it happened. Here’s a message that Zac sent through SEIU Healthcare Michigan’s twitter account in the days leading up to the attack: "Getting ready to RAID the RAD!"   “RAD” refers to Rose Ann DeMoro (the Executive Director of the California Nurses Association), who was gonna speak at the conference and was the focus of SEIU’s attack that day.

As you can see, it's no great wonder that "Zac" rhymes with "hack" -- because he's a big one.

P.S.  For analysis of last week’s election at Hackley Hospital, check out this article by journalist Mike Elk in In These Times.

SEIU-UHW: Let's Slash Your Health Benefits!

As promised, Tasty is passing along more information about the concessions that SEIU-UHW officials are trying to push down the throats of workers at Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) and other California hospital chains. Here's what's going on:

In late August, CHW's CEO Lloyd Dean sent an ominous email to employees announcing that the company is “going to contain costs” by “reforming our health and pension benefits – all of us will be asked to take greater responsibility for our retirement and health plans.” Here's an excerpt from the email (full version is here):

In the weeks following the CEO's email, SEIU-UHW's Hal Ruddick began negotiations with CHW for a new contract for 13,000 SEIU-UHW members. Here's what a worker wrote about the first bargaining session:
Could you post information regarding the new Wellness Program. Apparently, on the 1st day of bargaining, SEIU came to the bargaining team and suggested this bad idea and folks bit into it, but some rejected and was outvoted. This has never been introduced to the membership. The scary part about it, SEIU wants to help the boss cut costs on the back of members that have chronic illness, and they’re calling on Kaiser, Daughters of Charity and Sutter to join in this campaign.
Well, folks… it’s true. SEIU-UHW is pushing “Wellness Programs” as part of its so-called bargaining program dubbed “Let’s Get Healthy California!” An SEIU-UHW press release penned by SEIU-UHW's Elizabeth Brennan put it this way: “During contract negotiations, union members will prioritize concrete proposals such as wellness programs to improve the health of workers in their hospitals and lower costs.”  

In fact, SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board even passed a resolution announcing their plans to negotiate “Wellness Programs” with employers. Here's an excerpt from the resolution (full version is here):

So what exactly are “Wellness Programs”?  They’re the latest corporate scheme to push more health insurance costs onto workers’ backs. Tasty urges readers to check out this article in the New York Times. It describes how companies are using Wellness Programs to impose financial penalties on “unhealthy” workers -- those who have high cholesterol, high blood glucose levels or who’re considered to be overweight, smokers, etc. For example, after Wal-Mart implemented its “Wellness Program,” the company began charging smokers an additional $2,000 per year for their health coverage, according to the New York Times.

Last year, SEIU-UHW officials allowed Sutter Health to implement a "Wellness Program" in Northern California. The program measures each employee’s “body mass index” (BMI) to determine if they’re “overweight.” It also gathers information on each employee’s sexual orientation, amount of alcohol and tobacco they consume, etc. At first, the program appears to be aimed simply at offering incentives to “get healthy.” But after the companies get their foot in the door, they can impose thousands of dollars of costs on employees... like they've done at Wal-Mart, Safeway, Home Depot, etc.

SEIU's effort to mislead workers about Wellness Programs is classic "SEIU." The Boss calls it "cost-containment" ... and SEIU says its a "healthy provision for members that will improve the health of our communities." Looks like Hal Ruddick is trying to repeat last year's campaign, when he used blatant misinformation to "sell" a $217 million cut to workers' pensions. 

Tasty hears that CHW has wanted to implement a Wellness Program for a long time. Prior to SEIU’s trusteeship, CHW officials proposed Wellness Programs during negotiations in 2004 and 2008. But each time, SEIU-UHW’s old leadership knocked down the proposals because they were bad for the union's members. However, once Dave Regan and other out-of-state SEIU officials took over the union, CHW realized it now had a weak bargaining partner who was willing to slash workers' pensions and benefits... even though the company is making millions in profits.

Or, as CHW's Chief Financial Officer described it during his webcast with bond investors: "We are addressing cost structure in discussions with our partners at SEIU who have exhibited a keen understanding of the complexity of healthcare delivery and reimbursement today, and we expect to have further productive discussion over the next many months."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

SEIU-UHW Plans More Cuts at Catholic Healthcare West

Remember the $217 million in pension cuts that SEIU accepted at Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) in California? SEIU-UHW officials eliminated workers’ defined-benefit pension plan and replaced it with a 401(k)-style plan… and then lied to workers so they could implement the changes.

Well… guess what? SEIU-UHW officials have returned to the bargaining table with CHW, and they’re planning to make even more cuts to 13,000 workers’ health and retirement benefits.

Where did Tasty get the info about the cuts?   From the BOSS!

Check out a recording of a December 2nd conference call between CHW’s executives and corporate bond investors. During this “investor relations webcast,” Michael Blaszyk (CHW’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer) describes how CHW executives are "in discussions with our partners at SEIU" to address the company’s "workforce cost structure" and “right-size our workforce.” He also brags about the $50 million in savings that CHW has already enjoyed as a result of the pension cuts that SEIU's Hal Ruddick and Dave Regan accepted last year.

Here’s a 1 ½-minute excerpt from CHW’s webcast along with a rough transcript of Blaszyk’s statements (the excerpt includes the beginning of the webcast plus a section from later on). Readers can go here to see the full webcast, which is about 40 minutes long.

Blaszyk: "As you would expect, a key element to addressing our cost structure is workforce management... Given the declining rate of increase in revenue anticipation, we are responding by right-sizing our workforce ... As part of this effort, we are addressing cost structure in discussions with our partners at SEIU, and ultimately at the CNA. These partners have exhibited a keen understanding of the complexity of healthcare delivery and reimbursement today, and we expect to have further productive discussion over the next many months. We have already moved to adjust our pension plan design to reduce our liability and pension costs. We have been successful in reducing pension expense by $50 million."
So what kind of cuts is SEIU making? Well, CHW’s webcast includes graphics like this one:

CHW's webcast lays out a plan for cutting SEIU-UHW members’ pay and benefits in 2012, and then trying to impose the same cuts on the California Nurses Association’s members in 2013. Unlike SEIU (which loves selling out workers in back-room deals with the Boss), the CNA has teamed up with NUHW to fight pension and health insurance cuts at Kaiser Permanente. In fact, last September, 21,000 members of NUHW and CNA held the largest strike in Kaiser’s history. Meanwhile, SEIU worked side-by-side with Kaiser management to try to break the strike.

Why is CHW making the cuts? Because SEIU is weak and in bed with the Boss. So is CHW hurting for money? Hardly. Last year, CHW made $917 million in profits last year, nearly doubling its profits from the prior year.

Stay tuned. Tasty plans to give more details on the benefits cuts that SEIU's already discussed with CHW officials.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Michigan Hospital Workers Join NUHW in Landslide Vote!

Today, technical workers at Mercy Health Partner's Hackley Hospital in Muskegon joined NUHW in a blow-out election victory over SEIU. The final tally of the NLRB election was 65 (NUHW), 9 (SEIU) and 3 (No Union). A total of 92 workers were eligible to vote in the election.

The technical workers first asked the NLRB to hold an election nine months ago, but SEIU officials worked overtime to block and stall the election while they ran rigged contract-ratification votes. Meanwhile, Dave Regan flew Amado David and other California staffers to Michigan to beg workers to stay in SEIU.

The Hackley caregivers are the second group of Michigan workers to join NUHW in recent months. In September, workers at Luther Manor Nursing Home in Saginaw voted by a two-to-one margin to join NUHW.

SEIU's local union in Michigan is well-known for its corruption and ineffectiveness. In 2008, Rickman Jackson was removed as President of SEIU Healthcare Michigan after stealing more than $30,000 from SEIU members. SEIU’s top officials promptly appointed him to a $130,000-a-year staff position inside the Purple Palace.

Jackson’s replacement in Michigan, Marge Faville, is well known for nepotism and corruption… including a $160,000-a-year salary, a union-paid SUV and a union-paid apartment -- despite the fact that most of the union’s members earn only $8 an hour.

Faville is reportedly so busy stuffing wads of cash into her pockets that she's forgotten to have SEIU staffers actually respond to members’ calls for help or to make sure employers are actually honoring their union contracts.

Sounds like NUHW members will be getting more calls from Michigan workers! Congratulations, Hackley workers!