Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tyrone Freeman’s Wife Pleads Guilty in Connection with SEIU Corruption Scandal

Court records reveal that Tyrone Freeman’s wife -- Pilar Planells -- has pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges connected to the massive corruption scandal that rocked SEIU in 2008.

This morning, the Los Angeles Times published this article -- Wife of ex-SEIU Local Chief Pleads Guilty to Income Tax Charge -- describing these latest developments. Here’s how the LA Times described it:
Pilar Planells, wife of ousted SEIU local president Tyrone Freeman, pleads guilty in connection with more than $540,000 she received in consulting payments from the L.A.-based labor organization.
Freeman is a close ally of SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern and other top union officials, who appointed him to be the president of Local 6434. In a series of articles published in 2008 and 2009, the Los Angeles Times described how Freeman was stealing millions of dollars from low-wage homecare workers who earn only $9 per hour. Freeman funneled some of these ill-gotten gains to his wife and mother-in-law.

For example, in 2008, SEIU Local 6434 paid more than $540,000 in “consulting fees” to Lotus Seven Productions, a video production company that Planells set up and supposedly ran out of the house where she and Tyrone Freeman lived. Planells never paid taxes on the more than half-million dollars of consulting fees. That’s the basis of the tax evasion charges against her.

According to court records (which Tasty has posted below), the feds were also considering a variety of other criminal charges against Planells, including:
mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud, [and] conspiracy to embezzle or steal from a labor organization arising out of defendant’s conduct in obtaining money from SEIU Local 6434 through contracts with Lotus Seven Productions, Inc. and with Planells Family Child Care. (pp. 5-6)
However, in exchange for Planells’s guilty plea on tax evasion, the feds dropped these other charges and agreed to recommend a lighter sentence for Planells: three years of probation and payment of $130,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest. Sentencing will reportedly take place next month.

So what about the feds’ investigation of SEIU’s Tyrone Freeman? Here’s what the LA Times said today:
"It's a very active case," said a person close to the inquiry, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter.
In fact, court records indicate that the feds may finally be preparing to take action against Freeman. And if the feds were prepared to charge Planells with “conspiracy to embezzle or steal from a labor organization,” it seems that the same charge will end up on Freeman's court docket, among others. Meanwhile, a source sent Tasty some additional records that indicate Freeman’s corruption was far greater than previously reported. Tasty will spell out the details in a future post.

These latest developments offer still more vindication of Sal Rosselli and the former Executive Board of SEIU-UHW. Back in 2008, they criticized the corruption inside SEIU and proposed a series of reforms. But instead of addressing the problems, Andy Stern teamed up with Tyrone Freeman to launch a multi-million-dollar attack campaign against his internal critics. In early 2009, Andy Stern and Mary Kay Henry famously ordered SEIU-UHW to transfer 60,000 of its members to SEIU Local 6434, which was basically a giant crime scene. And if that wasn’t crazy enough, the SEIU officials then imposed a disastrous trusteeship on SEIU-UHW after the local's Executive Board insisted that SEIU-UHW's members should have a right to a democratic vote before being transferred to Local 6434.  

More details about Freeman's corruption will certainly emerge when the feds finally take action, including the role that SEIU's Steve Trossman performed in staging a cover-up of Freeman's corruption back in 2001, which allowed Freeman to go on stealing for another seven years. 

Finally, does Planells's plea deal force her to testify against Freeman? According to the LA Times,
Planells' attorney, Stephen Larson, said his client has not promised to testify against anyone as part of the deal.
Here's the plea deal:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SEIU-UHW Officials Push Concessions on 14,000 Workers at Dignity Health

Tasty hears that SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan has negotiated another concessionary contract in California. This one affects 14,000 workers at 31 hospitals operated by Dignity Health, which recently changed its name from “Catholic Healthcare West.”

Sources describe it as the worst contract in SEIU’s history of bargaining with the company. Why?

Well… during the past two years, Dignity made more than $1.4 billion in profits. Nonetheless, last week Regan accepted a one-year freeze on workers’ pay scales! And during the second year of the contract, workers will receive only a 2% pay increase.

And that’s not all. Regan negotiated more cuts to workers’ stripped-down retirement benefits. In 2009, SEIU’s Hal Ruddick famously allowed company officials to eliminate workers’ defined-benefit pension plan and then replace it with a cheap 401(k)-like plan. This massive concession produced a $217 million windfall for the company, according to the company’s financial records.

And there are even more concessions inside last week’s recent deal with Dignity Health. Regan and Ruddick also allowed Dignity officials to…
  • Cut healthcare coverage for workers’ dependents
  • Stop making contributions to workers’ training fund
  • Create a system of two-tiered retirement benefits at Dignity’s hospitals in San Francisco that’ll force newly hired workers into cheaper benefits, and
  • Implement a wellness program.
Just like at Kaiser Permanente, Dignity will now begin to track workers’ “biometric indicators” such as blood pressure, cholesterol, body-mass index (BMI) and smoking rates. And a “Dignity Health-SEIU Health and Wellness Committee” will help implement the company’s wellness program. Here’s an excerpt from SEIU’s agreement:

In an earlier post, Tasty provided an audio recording of Dignity’s executives talking about their “productive” relationship with their “partners” at SEIU-UHW. 

Well, Tasty hears that Dave Regan is best buddies with Dignity Health CEO Lloyd Dean, who pocketed $10 million in pay in 2009, according to tax returns. Dean also collects a fat paycheck for sitting on the board of directors of Wells Fargo Bank and recently was targeted by the Occupy movement for evicting homeowners while Wells Fargo raked in tens of billions of dollars of tax-payer funded bail-outs. Dean also happens to be the chair of San Francisco’s Chamber of Commerce, where he has teamed up with Regan to run pro-business candidates to take control of city hall. Dean also happens to sit on the "Let's Get Healthy California Task Force."

Quite a "productive" relationship, as they say. It looks like "Wall Street Dave" extracted giant concessions from SEIU-UHW's members for his good buddy Lloyd Dean.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meet SEIU-UHW’s Wellness Ambassadors at Kaiser!

It looks like the top officials at SEIU and Kaiser Permanente were so anxious to launch their wellness program that they began implementing the program even before SEIU-UHW’s members had actually approved it during a ratification vote!

Check out the minutes from the June 1st meeting of SEIU-UHW’s Steward Council at Kaiser Santa Rosa Medical Center in Northern California. (SEIU-UHW’s “ratification vote” wasn’t finished until June 8).

According to the minutes, a Kaiser official instructed SEIU-UHW’s shop stewards about “Wellness Ambassadors,” exercise recommendations, and other issues. Here are excerpts from the minutes:

The minutes also offer a variety of other exciting news about Kaiser's wellness program, such as “Mix It Up” (a virtual juice blender that monitors employees’ food intake via online accounts) and an upcoming “Family Wellness Festival.”

So what’s going on?

During recent contract negotiations, SEIU-UHW agreed to implement Kaiser’s wellness program, which is called “Total Health.” Under the program, Kaiser will collect and monitor workers’ “biometric risk indicators,” including their body mass index (BMI), smoking rates, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels.

Future bonuses will be tied to whether workers can reduce their “biometric indicators” and save Kaiser money. “The Total Health Program is a long-term business strategy for KP,” says SEIU’s new contract.

To implement the program, top officials from SEIU and Kaiser will develop a “Total Health Communication Plan” and will use Unit-Based Teams (UBTs) to push the program through the workforce.

That’s where “Wellness Ambassadors” fit in. Under SEIU’s new contract, Kaiser and SEIU will create Wellness Ambassadors -- “dedicated workplace leaders so that work teams can take ownership of employee health and wellness,” according to SEIU's contract language. Some workers are calling them “wellness cops” who’re now responsible for pushing wellness assessments, pedometers, team salad days, and whatever new-fangled forms of social pressure might be dreamed up by Dave Regan, John August and Kaiser's executives.

Interestingly, even as Regan and Kaiser say workers’ individual choices are to blame for higher health costs, many researchers are pointing to societal factors. Like bad bosses!

Check out this study by Swedish researchers that found that workers with bad bosses suffered higher rates of stress, heart disease and deaths by heart attack. Here’s a quick video -- called “Is Your Boss Killing You?” -- that features a Canadian wellness expert talking about the study. Interesting, huh? Tasty wonders what effects an incompetent, company-dominated union like SEIU-UHW can have on workers’ health?

P.S. Check out the latest article on wellness programs, which was published several hours ago: "Wellness Programs Prove Messy at Work." It includes excerpts like this one: 

A few booths over [at the annual human resources convention], a 20-something saleswoman dressed in a polo shirt described what happened when she demonstrated her company's wellness tracking software to a chief executive. "When he realized our product lets him see who meets certain fitness goals each week and who doesn't, he asked, 'You mean I can fire people who doesn't make the cut?'"

Monday, June 25, 2012

NLRB: SEIU-UHW Is Out at O'Connor Woods

Friday's vote by 175 workers at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital wasn't the only loss suffered by SEIU-UHW during the past week. In a separate action, the NLRB formally certified the results of an earlier election in which 186 employees at O'Connor Woods in Stockton, California voted to dump SEIU-UHW. 

Here's what happened:

In February, workers at O'Connor Woods voted to decertify SEIU-UHW by a margin of 93 (No Union) to 77 (SEIU-UHW). Apparently, workers rebelled against Dave Regan and Co. after SEIU staffers refused to return employees' phone calls or give them basic support. Tasty hears that Vicky Jackson was the main SEIU staffer asleep at the wheel. In addition, she apparently headed up SEIU's failed election campaign in February. 

After the NLRB's vote count in February, SEIU-UHW spokesperson Elizabeth Brennan confidently predicted that SEIU-UHW would overturn the election results because of alleged 'widespread' misconduct committed during the election. In fact, SEIU's attorneys -- including Bruce Harland -- filed no fewer than 34 "objections" to the election in legal papers submitted to the NLRB. 

It turns out, however, that SEIU-UHW's claims were hot air. By last week, all 34 of SEIU's objections had either been dismissed by the NLRB or withdrawn by SEIU. Consequently, the NLRB finally certified the results of the February election. 

All in all, it looks like things must be bad inside SEIU-UHW. After all, it's a bad sign when the union's members would rather work without a union than be members of SEIU-UHW.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Another Hospital Votes to Join NUHW!

Earlier today, the ballots were counted in a decertification election at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister, California. SEIU-UHW has represented 175 workers at the hospital... that is, until workers voted them out of office! Here's the final tally:

NUHW:  75
No Union:  2

Way to go, Hazel Hawkins workers!

That's two victories in a row for NUHW! Last month, 450 workers at Children's Hospital in Oakland, CA also voted to join NUHW and decertify SEIU-UHW.

Keep it up, healthcare workers!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thud! SEIU's Dave Regan Is Under the Bus Again

Once again, SEIU’s Dave Regan has been tossed under the bus -- this time, by the CEO of the California Hospital Association. Here’s what happened:

Since the staffing-ratio scandal broke last week, Regan and SEIU huckster Steve Trossman have been trying to claim they didn’t actually want to roll back California’s safe-staffing ratios, but simply wanted the California Labor Federation to be “neutral” on any change.

Here’s how SEIU-UHW said it in a leaflet to its members:
The Hospital Association has proposed a temporary, 2-year lifting of the RN staffing ratios – just during meal and break periods – which they say saves them $400 million. SEIU-UHW has taken a neutral position on that proposal, neither in favor nor opposed.
Likely story, right? Fortunately, SEIU’s partner in crime -- the California Hospital Association (CHA) -- has ‘fessed up to what really happened.

Yesterday, Duane Dauner (the CEO of the CHA) told the Sacramento Business Journal that he made a deal with certain California legislators to have them introduce the anti-ratio bill, but only if the California Labor Federation first agreed “to go neutral” on the legislation.

That’s where SEIU and Dave Regan came in. They acted as Dauner’s secret agents by pressuring the Labor Federation’s to adopt a “neutral” position during an “emergency” phone call engineered by Dave Regan and the Labor Federation’s Art Pulaski.

Here’s how the Sacramento Business Journal describes it:
There will be no bill this year to relax the ratios because the California Hospital Association had an agreement with legislative leaders who might have carried the legislation that the Labor Fed had to go neutral on the notion first, said Duane Dauner, president and CEO at CHA.

“That vote did not occur,” Dauner said. “As a result, we didn’t try to move it.”

…SEIU and CHA are trying to work together on public policy matters that affect both partners, Dauner said.

“We felt this was one time — because it involved labor — it was appropriate for SEIU to present the idea to the California Labor Federation,” he said. “Then it was dead.”
As you can see, SEIU was hardly “neutral” in this scheme. In fact, they were the industry’s handmaiden... the CEO's errand boy. To make a sports analogy, SEIU served as the Boss’s linemen who tried to clear the field so SEIU’s corporate quarterback, Duane Dauner, could carry the ball across the goal line.  

And how fierce and furious is the SEIU/CHA scandal in California? Check out this leaflet from the California Nurses Association:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rich Trumka to Mary Kay Henry: No Dice!

Yesterday, In These Times described “previously unreported letters [that] show the AFL-CIO rebuffing SEIU’s bid for a larger deal to freeze out NUHW.” 

According to the article, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry wrote to AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and proposed a “no-raid pact” that was conditioned on the Machinists union withdrawing its support for NUHW. Trumka declined SEIU’s offer.

Well, a source sent copies of the correspondence to Tasty! Below are the two letters.

But first, an interesting note about the letter from SEIU's Mary Kay Henry to Trumka: Take a look at the second paragraph, where Henry reports to Trumka that SEIU-UHW was trusteed in 2009 for "refus[ing] to abide by an internal jurisdictional decision of the SEIU International Executive Board." Her description of the trusteeship is significant because SEIU officials have repeatedly told workers and the media that the union's former leaders were removed for supposedly "stealing millions of dollars" -- a bald-faced lie that Mary Kay Henry has now documented in black and white! Also notable: today, more than 3 1/2 years after the trusteeship, SEIU officials have STILL not implemented the "internal jurisdictional decision" that was the stated rationale for SEIU's bogus trusteeship.

Next, here’s Trumka’s letter to Mary Kay Henry shooting down her proposal.

Lastly, here’s more news coverage of SEIU-UHW’s attack on California’s nurse-to-patient ratio from the website Daily Kos: “California Unions Battle over Fate of State’s Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Law.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"It's a war, of that I am certain, and it will not be pretty"

More details are emerging from a growing trail of news coverage about SEIU-UHW Dave Regan’s dirty deal with the California Hospital Association to undermine California’s landmark safe-staffing law. Below are links to two articles along with excerpts featuring scorching attacks on "Wall Street Dave."

Interestingly, the first article describes a new development: namely, “previously unreported letters” between SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and the AFL-CIO’s Rich Trumka that “show the AFL-CIO rebuffing SEIU’s bid for a larger deal to freeze out NUHW.” Check it out. Here are the articles.

Josh Eidelson, “Are Nurses Headed to War with SEIU?,” In These Times, June 19, 2012.
California Nurses Association (CNA) Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro sent a blistering e-mail to her colleagues: “It is a war, of that I am certain, and it will not be pretty.”

Questioning whether SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (UHW) President Dave Regan "has any principles,” De Moro called him “dogged, arrogant and an enormous embarrassment to the labor movement.” De Moro, who directs both CNA and its national affiliate, National Nurses United (NNU), charged, “the hospitals believe that they have found a way to weaken the nurses and their union with Regan in their power, and this will lead to some pretty nasty scenarios for the nurses, patients, and of course the union.”

DeMoro called UHW’s Regan “a traitor to his class” and a “symptom” of the increasing “servility” of the mainstream labor movement. Rather than fighting corporations, said DeMoro, “he was doing their bidding. Overtly. Loudly.” Watching it happen, she added, management must be “sitting back, drinking their wine, and laughing their asses off.”

DeMoro suspects that Regan “cut a deal that Kaiser would help stop NUHW in exchange for Regan helping them to go after the nursing ratios.”
Michelle Amber, “CNA Wages War against UHW in California Claiming Attempt to Suspend Staffing Ratios,” Bureau of National Affairs, June 18, 2012.
A war has erupted between two health care unions in California over an attack by one of the unions on the state's nurse-to-patient ratios

DeMoro said she was “stunned, shocked, and horrified” that a health care union, which also represents nurses, would attempt to overturn a regulation that was a huge priority for another union. Contending that Regan is working on behalf of the CHA, she said when a “union works for the bosses, it turns on other unions.”

DeMoro said this is just the latest incidence of Regan working “behind the scenes” with the hospitals against the nurses' interests. She said Regan has accepted concessionary contracts with a number of hospitals for his members.

“When the nurses begin bargaining at one of these facilities, they have to dig out from the hole UHW has dug that is lower than the employer would have presented” because it agreed to the concessions, she said.
Meanwhile, SEIU’s Dave Regan and Steve Trossman are making a laughable effort to defend their disgraceful actions. They claim they colluded with industry execs in order to give hospitals "relief" from the "dire financial conditions" that will harm lower-income hospital workers.

First of all, California's hospital industry is far from poverty-stricken. It's producing more than $4 billion a year in profits. And it's showering its CEOs -- like Kaiser's George Halvorson -- with million-dollar pay increases. 

Second, Regan is hardly a die-hard defender of workers’ wages and benefits. Let's not forget Regan's track record. He rammed giant concessions down the throats of 3,000 workers at the Daughters of Charity Health System by violating SEIU-UHW’s own constitution! And he and SEIU’s Hal Ruddick  blatantly lied to 14,000 workers at Catholic Healthcare West/Dignity in order to eliminate their defined-benefit pension plan and thereby hand over $217 million in savings to the company in just a single year.  

SEIU's P.R. hacks may try to put Regan in a Superman costume, but the opposite is true. Check out this insightful image, crafted by a creative reader, that tells the truth about "Wall Street Dave."