Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kaiser’s Partnership Unions Launch 21st-Century “Strike”

Coalition's flashmob in Hollywood
On Friday, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (a.k.a, “the partnership unions”) used their “delegates conference” in Hollywood to launch a “strike,” according to the AFL-CIO’s website.

Wow! Did they conduct a strike against Kaiser’s efforts to slash workers’ pensions and health insurance, which one partnership union has described in these leaflets? Or perhaps a strike against Kaiser’s $6.1 billion in profits, its executives’ eight pension plans, and CEO George Halvorson’s $9 million salary?

Well… not exactly.

In fact, instead of striking Kaiser, SEIU and the partnership unions conducted a “strike” against “obesity and chronic disease.” That’s right. A “wellness” strike. Oh yeah… and it wasn’t actually a “strike.” It was a “flashmob” by conference participants dancing to a Beyoncé tune on a Hollywood street.

Here’s how the AFL-CIO’s website described it:
Kaiser Permanente health care workers are launching a “strike” at public health problems, including obesity and chronic disease. Today, more than 500 will kick off the campaign by taking over a major Hollywood tourist mecca, Hollywood and Highland

If you’re in Hollywood, join the fun at 10:30 a.m., as health care workers dance to Beyonce’s public health video and hand out health education leaflets to passers-by.
Here’s a video of the flashmob (a.k.a. "strike"), which included workers holding up signs that say “Let’s Get Healthy!” And here’s a video of conference delegates practicing the flashmob inside the fancy Renaissance Hollywood Hotel and Spa.

So... it looks like we’ve now seen the first ever “strike” by a 21st-century union... thanks to John August and SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan.

Tasty is confident it will rank among the worst episodes of company unionism in America’s modern labor history. SEIU has now conducted both a "wellness walk" and a "wellness strike" in an effort to rally workers' support behind the Boss’s wellness program. Meanwhile, when tens of thousands of workers actually conducted real strikes to oppose Kaiser's benefits cuts, SEIU officials worked side-by-side with Kaiser managers to try to threaten and bully SEIU's own members into not joining the strikes.

What's next for Regan and August? It's hard to imagine they could dream up anything more absurd and pathetic than a "wellness strike." But hey... with 21st-century company unions, you just never know.