Friday, February 17, 2012

Purple Pedometers Signal SEIU's Effort to Sell Out Workers at Kaiser Permanente

Remember the speeches by Dave Regan and John August about “21st century unions?”  At a recent delegates conference of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, the two fat-cat union officials told Kaiser workers that they get paid too much and need to give up four or five concessions during upcoming negotiations for a new labor contract with Kaiser. Instead of fighting cuts, workers should help Kaiser become "more successful," said Regan and August, because that’s how “21st century unions” do it.  

So what does a "21st century union" do when Kaiser officials are trying to eliminate workers' pensions and slash their health benefits even as Kaiser announces an additional $2 billion in profits.

Well, new details have emerged about Dave Regan's "21st century unionism." It turns out that conducting informational picket lines and publicizing Kaiser's profits are super passé. That's like TOTALLY "20th century!"

Instead, when healthcare workers are under attack, a "21st century union" must arm its members with "pedometers" and organize workers to engage in "wellness walks!" That's right. On February 13th, Joe Simoes (the Director of SEIU-UHW's Kaiser Division) held a conference call with rank-and-file leaders where he announced that SEIU-UHW will be mobilizing its members to participate in "wellness walks" around Kaiser hospitals as part of SEIU-UHW's campaign to win a new labor contract at Kaiser.

According to Simoes, if 5,000 workers participate in the wellness walks (scheduled for March 1st), the workers will collectively take "five million steps for a healthy California!" Wow! That'll teach a lesson to those greedy Kaiser execs! What a punishing blow by the purple team! 

So where did Dave Regan got the idea of wellness walks? Hmmm... let's see. Could it have come from this Kaiser website:

The site -- which promotes walking as a way to improve wellness -- features Kaiser CEO George Halvorson in a riveting video entitled "An Introduction to Walking" during which Halvorson tries to channel Sean Connery in a hilarious attempt to inject drama and gravitas into the show. 

And if Regan didn't steal the "wellness walk" idea from George's video, he most certainly got it from George's article entitled "Walking Our Way to Better Health," in which Halvorson celebrates Kaiser's "walking programs for our employees..."

Pedometers? Wellness walks? If Regan's scheme wasn't so devastatingly harmful to workers, it would be an utter, pathetic joke. But during this week's conference call, Simoes revealed that SEIU's backroom deal with Kaiser is fully cooked. Simoes announced that officials from Kaiser and SEIU have already determined the precise date and time on which their negotiations will conclude. As those who've participated in regular negotiations know, it's simply impossible to predict how long bargaining will take -- especially when the Boss is trying to slash your benefits.

But with the aid of "21st century unionism" and SEIU's labor-management partnership, Regan and Halvorson think they can impose deep cuts to workers' benefits even as Kaiser has pocketed $6.1 billion in profits during the past three years.

Kaiser workers... it's your turn to step to the plate!