Friday, March 2, 2012

Big Bust for SEIU's Wellness Walk

Although readers won’t be surprised by the news, Tasty hears that SEIU’s wellness walk at Kaiser Permanente on March 1st (aka "the Great 2012 SEIU-UHW Step Up") was a colossal failure. Workers report that only handfuls of SEIU members turned up for the events at hospitals across California.

Just days ago, SEIU officials had confidently predicted they’d turn out 5,000 Kaiser workers to the wellness walk. Instead, the total statewide turnout was closer to 200-300 people. Check out these pictures from workers.

Here's SEIU's wellness walk in Stockton:
Here's the turnout at Hayward:

This is as big as the 'crowd' got at Antioch:
 At Union City, the wellness walkers never even left the hospital's cafeteria:

Here's SEIU's wellness staffer Latasha Winslow-Beavers taking a picture of walkers at Roseville Medical Center:

 At Walnut Creek, a group of 8-10 workers turned out.

According to a worker, one of the “walkers” pictured in the above photo later tossed his purple shirt in the garbage after seeing proof that SEIU officials had never intended to use the event to protest Kaiser’s proposed benefits cuts -- even though that's the story that SEIU organizers used to lure workers to the event.

Here's a picture from Manteca. Take special note of the big pile of unused purple shirts and bottles of water at 12:18pm -- some 45 minutes after the event was supposed to have started. Sources say the people in the picture include SEIU staffer Jared Mayhugh and Contract Specialist Cali Lombardi.  
At Richmond, a total of five workers collected their free pedometers from SEIU-UHW staffer Fola Afariogun before returning to the cafeteria. At Modesto Medical Center, SEIU didn’t even attempt to hold an event because SEIU is so unpopular. 

Even SEIU’s own photos -- posted online -- show how few workers turned out for SEIU-UHW's "Great Step Up." Check these out (the first is from Manteca and the second is Downey):

The abysmally low turnout wasn’t due to a lack of resources. In fact, SEIU's Dave Regan spent suitcases of members’ dues money on the wellness walk. He reportedly bought 10,000 purple pedometers emblazoned with SEIU-UHW’s logo -- and handed them out to walkers for free.

SEIU also ordered custom-made banners for the walk.

SEIU even deployed giant signs depicting SEIU’s SpongeBob-like cartoon character in an effort to inspire Kaiser workers to walk.  

SEIU’s partner -- Kaiser Permanente -- also threw its full support behind the event. Workers report that Kaiser’s executives allowed SEIU staffers to set up purple tables on the hospitals’ campuses to stage the walk. When one worker asked a security guard to explain how that was possible under the hospital's rules, the guard shrugged and said, “We don’t remove anyone unless we get orders from the boss upstairs.”

Tasty hears that some Kaiser supervisors even used departmental meetings to instruct employees to participate in SEIU’s wellness walk.

Early in the day, nervous SEIU officials realized the wellness walk would be a massive failure… so SEIU's Steve Trossman began carpet-bombing news outlets with his weapons of mass deception. In fact, even before the wellness walks had begun, SEIU published a press release announcing that “hundreds” of workers had already completed their wellness walks at just a single hospital in Southern California.

So what does it mean when a union's rank-and-file membership so thoroughly and completely repudiates their leaders? A large turnout for the wellness walk was supposed to signal the workers' support for Dave Regan's approach to negotiations with Kaiser. In the end, workers used their feet... but not to support Regan's concessionary approach to bargaining with Kaiser. Instead, workers registered a clear vote of "no confidence" in Regan just five days before he and John August begin negotiations with Kaiser's executives on March 6th.