Friday, July 20, 2012

Federal Lawsuit: SEIU-UHW Backed Drug-Snorting Supervisor over Worker

Check this out. An SEIU-UHW member in the San Francisco Bay Area has sued both SEIU-UHW and Kaiser Permanente for working hand-in-glove to fire her after she blew the whistle on her Kaiser supervisor who was snorting crystal meth on the job and acting in a hostile, erratic way towards workers.

And that’s not all. The methamphetamine-snorting supervisor happened to be in charge of the Admitting Department at Kaiser South San Francisco Medical Center… meaning she was actually responsible for admitting patients into the hospital!

The allegations are contained in a federal lawsuit filed two weeks ago in U.S. District Court for Northern California. A full copy is pasted below.

The lawsuit will undoubtedly strike a chord with SEIU-UHW members who describe how SEIU prefers to lay down for the Boss rather than fight for workers. According to the lawsuit, SEIU-UHW officials did nothing to protect the workers against Kaiser’s illegal retaliation. Instead, SEIU-UHW reportedly assisted the drug-snorting boss even after she ordered the worker’s unjust suspension and firing.

So... is this what Dave Regan and John August mean when they say their partnership with Kaiser is so “21st century?” Tasty wonders if they’ll soon be copying other “innovative” strategies pioneered by Enron and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Here are some details from the lawsuit:

The suit accuses Kaiser of “wrongful termination” and charges SEIU-UHW with breaching its “duty of fair representation” to the worker. Among other allegations, the suit says SEIU officials failed to enforce a basic provision of the union contract that says: “No employee shall be disciplined or discharged without just cause.”

According to the lawsuit, workers repeatedly observed their supervisor with a rolled up bill in her nose as she snorted meth at her desk in the Admitting Department at the Kaiser hospital.

In October of 2010, seven of the Admitting Department’s staff delivered a letter of complaint to Martha Gilmore, a top Kaiser executive who’s the Medical Group Administrator of The Permanente Medical Group. Afterwards, Kaiser officials -- including Diane Keefer -- staged a cover-up for their meth-loving colleague and then began retaliating against the workers.

One worker, who’s now suing Kaiser and SEIU-UHW, was unjustly accused of time-card fraud when she went to a scheduled doctors appointment. Later, her meth-snorting supervisor accused her of “unprofessional conduct” even though the worker had a spotless employment record. Ultimately, Kaiser officials unjustly fired the worker.

So where was the worker’s union, SEIU-UHW?

According to the lawsuit, SEIU-UHW officials refused to pursue the worker’s grievance through the steps of the union’s grievance procedure. A “Union representative” told the worker that…
“…her case had no merit,” without any further explanation, and that the union was withdrawing her grievance. Thereafter, defendant Union failed to make a demand for arbitration and instead permitted the time for doing so to lapse. (p. 9)
The lawsuit continues with the following discussion of SEIU-UHW (which it calls “defendant Union”), “Ms. Taylor” (the meth-snorting supervisor) and the “plaintiff” (the worker who was unjustly fired):
Further, defendant Union’s investigation of plaintiff’s grievance and right to arbitrate was handled in a perfunctory and disingenuous manner, in complete disregard of plaintiff’s contractual and statutory right not to be discharged except for just cause. Despite knowledge and ample evidence of Ms. Taylor’s drug use and retaliatory actions against plaintiff, the defendant Union failed to conduct any type of meaningful investigation or challenge to plaintiff’s termination. Nor did the defendant Union make any reasonable efforts to obtain documentation to rebut the phony allegations of time fraud being leveled against the plaintiff. Instead, defendant Union acquiesced in plaintiff’s discharge for its own secret ulterior motives in breach of its duty to fairly represent the plaintiff. During the course of its handling of plaintiff’s grievance and her request that the Union demand arbitration, several union representatives were openly hostile towards the plaintiff, and/or indifferent. Defendant Union has never provided reasons for its decision and conclusion that plaintiff’s case “had no merit,” and ignored strong evidence to the contrary. (p. 9 emphasis added)
The lawsuit goes on to describe the multiple ways in which SEIU-UHW officials breached their obligation to fairly represent the worker. For example, it describes how a “union representative” actually gave the meth-snorting supervisor “a document written by plaintiff not intended to be shared with management.” (p. 10)

The lawsuit seeks “punitive damages” from both SEIU-UHW and Kaiser Permanente.

So what happened to the drug-snorting supervisor? According to the lawsuit, officials from Kaiser and SEIU protected her for nearly two years until she was finally fired in an apparent vindication of the workers’ original complaint about her on-the-job meth habit.  Too bad SEIU officials couldn’t even mount a similar defense of their own dues-paying member who courageously blew the whistle on widespread abuses!