Monday, July 16, 2012

Next Stop for SEIU-UHW's Concessionary Caravan?

Sutter Health CEO Pat Fry & Dave Regan
Tasty hears that Dave Regan’s concessionary caravan is making its next stop at Sutter Health, the largest hospital chain in Northern California. 

And guess what? An SEIU-UHW staffer -- who’s now working as one of Sutter’s “Human Resources Partners” -- is actually helping to implement the company’s cuts.

Here’s what’s happening.

Soon, union contracts covering thousands of SEIU-UHW members will be expiring at nearly a dozen of Sutter’s hospitals. In recent months, Sutter’s executives have drooled in sheer delight as Dave Regan gave away hundreds of millions of dollars of concessions to Catholic Healthcare West/Dignity Health, the Daughters of Charity Health System, Kaiser Permanente and other companies. Regan's concessions include wage freezes, health insurance cuts, elimination of pension plans, and cuts to workers’ retiree health benefits.

Now... Regan plans to give up the same concessions to Sutter Health even though the company has pocketed $1.6 billion in profits during the past two years, according to the company’s audited financial statements.

At one of Sutter’s largest hospitals -- Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland and Berkeley -- the CEO recently announced plans to “restructure” the hospital’s operations by slashing workers’ wages and benefits, and axing 10 percent of the hospital’s staff. Here’s what CEO Chuck Prosper said in a June 26th letter to 1,100 SEIU-UHW members at the hospital:
We must ask our labor partners to recognize this situation and cooperate with us as we ask for significant, but realistic, changes in our wage and benefit structure... After taking a hard look at the future, the administrative team has concluded we must restructure and reduce our staffing by approximately 10 percent... This reduction will affect employees and departments throughout our organization.
And in another letter, Sutter executives told workers that their former SEIU-UHW Field Representative -- Dominic Mitchell -- will be one of the company's “Human Resources Partners” who will implement the cuts and layoffs. Here’s the letter:

So is Alta Bates Summit Medical Center losing money? 

Not by a long shot. In fact, the hospital made more than $200 million in profits during the past two years, according to reports filed by the company.

So what's going on?

Sources tell Tasty that Dave Regan has become best buddies with Patrick Fry, the CEO of Sutter Health. Fry happens to sit on the Board of Directors of the California Hospital Association, which recently signed a secret “partnership” deal with Regan.

Last week, when Sutter delivered layoff letters to workers, SEIU-UHW didn’t even mount a protest against the job cuts… and instead held a barbeque for employees!  Incredible. SEIU literally threw bones to workers while their fat-cat employer announced the destruction of their livelihoods.

And to add insult to injury, Regan sent an SEIU-UHW Field Representative named Fola Afariogun to try to sweet-talk the angry and soon-to-be-jobless workers. Afariogun, who last year took home $109,091 in pay from SEIU-UHW's members, displayed Regan’s keen sensitivity towards "the 99%" by driving up to the “layoff BBQ” in his shiny Mercedes sports coup. Here’s Afariogun’s pay from 2011 (click on the image to enlarge it):

Source: U.S. Dep't of Labor Form LM-2 for SEIU-UHW, 2011
Finally, sources report that Regan’s backroom deal with Sutter has left the California Nurses Association in a difficult spot. Sutter is trying to force SEIU’s concessions down the throats of the hospitals' Registered Nurses, which has caused the nurses to respond with strikes. Regan, however, has worked hand-in-hand with Sutter to oppose the strikes, even instructing SEIU-UHW’s members to scab against their fellow nurses. Sound familiar, Kaiser workers?

 Stay tuned for more reports from Sutter's hospitals.