Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Happened to SEIU's CHP Campaign in Ohio

Remember all the hullabaloo surrounding SEIU's organizing drive at an Ohio hospital company called Catholic Health Partners (CHP)? That's the one that sparked SEIU's violent attack on a Labor Notes conference in 2008 that sent some conference-goers to the emergency room and left David Smith, an SEIU homecare worker, dead of a heart attack.

Well... Tasty recently learned about a particularly pathetic conclusion to this pathetic episode in SEIU's recent history. Here's some background.

Some years ago, SEIU's Dave Regan, Scott Courtney and Mary Kay Henry launched a campaign to organize thousands of workers at CHP hospitals in Ohio. This trio of Purple Palace officials literally spent millions of SEIU members’ dues dollars on the campaign.

In 2008, CHP executives announced they had decided to use an obscure provision of federal labor law (called an "RM" petition) to run snap elections so that 8,000 workers could vote on joining SEIU. This unusual approach didn’t require 30% of the workers to sign petitions to trigger the elections. Instead, the Boss simply ordered the election. Unsurprisingly, this prompted calls that CHP was trying to install SEIU as its company union.

During the run-up to the election, the California Nurses Association leafleted CHP's nurses about SEIU’s sweetheart deal with the company. SEIU cried bloody murder and promptly cancelled the election. That’s when Regan and other SEIU officials ordered the violent attack on the Labor Notes conference, where the head of CNA was supposed to speak.

Eventually, CHP and SEIU rescheduled the election for the 8,000 workers. Even though SEIU was the only union on the ballot, SEIU got trounced in the election. In fact, SEIU lost 40 of the 44 separate elections in the “bargaining units” covering CHP’s workforce.

Since then, SEIU’s negotiators have been bargaining a first contract for the 600 CHP workers who’re now members of SEIU. Last week, an Ohio newspaper published this article describing SEIU’s new contract. How'd the workers do under SEIU? Not so good. In fact, SEIU’s contract provides ZERO improvements to workers’ wages, benefits and working conditions. Here’s how a hospital official described SEIU’s contract:  
There are no separate standards giving Union employees more money or rights and privileges than non-union employees have in the workplace.
In fact, workers will end up losing money after SEIU deducts 1.75% of their wages for union dues.

So why did SEIU negotiate such a horrible contract? This, my friends, has all the telltale signs of one of SEIU's backroom deals with the Boss. Dave Regan and Mary Kay Henry likely convinced CHP officials to run the union elections in exchange for SEIU’s commitment to negotiate a contract with no increases in wages, benefits or working conditions. That way, SEIU officials could accomplish their #1 goal:  increasing SEIU’s membership… even if workers end up losing money on the deal.