Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Recording Reveals Massive SEIU Concessions at CA Hospital Chain

SEIU's Hal Ruddick
How bad is SEIU's concessionary bargaining in California?   

Check out this recording from a ‘report-back’ that SEIU-UHW officials recently gave to workers about their bargaining with Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West). SEIU-UHW is currently negotiating a new contract for 14,000 SEIU-UHW members at more than 30 of Dignity's hospitals in California.

Last year, the company made $917 million in profits. And this year, it changed its name as it prepares to buy hospitals across the United States. Dignity is already one of California's largest hospital companies and competes directly with Kaiser Permanente.

Despite Dignity's profits, the company's executives are asking for deep concessions from SEIU-UHW's weak, inexperienced and corrupt negotiators. Here are just some of the cuts on the bargaining table:
  • Freeze workers’ wages and “step increases."
  • Cut workers' health benefits.
  • Eliminate all benefits for part-time employees... even for those employees regularly working 35 hours per week.
  • Eliminate a defined-benefit pension plan that covers 1,000 workers, and force these employees into SEIU's cheap 401(k)-like retirement plan that's called the “VPP” (Value Protection Plan).
  • Eliminate protections against subcontracting workers’ jobs.
  • Eliminate "successorship" protections, which require a new buyer to continue employing the current workforce when a hospital is sold.
  • Freeze Dignity's contributions to an educational fund (“ed fund”) that provides career-ladder training to SEIU members.
Here’s the recording, which features SEIU-UHW staffers Lisa Gude and Hal Ruddick (SEIU-UHW’s “Chief Negotiator”).

So what's going on? 

It’s simple. SEIU's Dave Regan and Co. have become the bosses’ biggest friend for slashing workers’ wages and benefits. In 2009, SEIU’s Hal Ruddick allowed Dignity to eliminate a defined-benefit pension plan covering 13,000 workers, thereby saving the company more than $217 million in the first year alone. And Ruddick shamelessly lied to workers in order to implement the giant cut.

SEIU's massive concession simply whetted Dignity's appetite for even more cuts. In December, Dignity’s top officials told investors they were “in discussions with our partners at SEIU" to "right-size our workforce” and cut workers' benefits. Now, as details emerge about Dignity's efforts, SEIU officials are hardly lifting a finger to fight the company.