Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hawaii: A 'Partnership Union' Beds Down with Boss While Workers Fight Kaiser Permanente's Cuts

A reader in Hawaii sent more news about the ‘partnership union’ that inked a secret deal with Kaiser Permanente to lay off nearly one-quarter of the Registered Nurses at Kaiser’s clinics in Hawaii. As Tasty reported earlier, the deal is strikingly similar to SEIU-UHW’s secret deal to axe 1,000 jobs across California.

In the latest development in Hawaii, UNITE HERE Local 5 -- a non-partnership union that represents CNAs, clerical workers, housekeepers and other staffers at Kaiser facilities -- is fighting the RN layoffs because the RN’s ‘partnership union’ is simply too far in bed with Kaiser to actually do anything for its RN membership.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser captured the news in this revealing headline: “RN Layoffs Fought by Other Kaiser Staff.” Here’s an excerpt (full article is below):

Cade Watanabe, spokesman for UNITE HERE Local 5, said, “We don’t trust Kaiser. What we’re hearing from our members every day is quite alarming. Patients should know that these layoffs, even though they may only affect a very specific number of registered nurses, will have huge impacts on the quality of care that they’re going to be receiving at Kaiser.”

So what’s the ‘partnership union’ – the Hawaii Nurses Association (HNA) – doing? Joan Craft, the HNA’s president, told the newspaper she’s is having “high-level discussions” with Kaiser management. Wow… that inspires a truckload of confidence!

And check out this other development. Kaiser -- which pocketed $2.6 billion in profits last year -- has announced plans to shut down its Honolulu Urgent Care Clinic later this month. Why? Here’s what a Kaiser spokesperson told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

Kaiser said its plan to end urgent-care services at the Honolulu Clinic is part of a larger effort to improve overall care… “The innovative changes now in process at Kaiser Permanente Hawaii will enhance the member experience and patient care, make the highest and best use of our skilled staff, and allow for sustainable growth,” said Kaiser spokeswoman Laura Lott in an email.
“We’re working together with our physicians, staff and unions to continue to be the best place to receive care and the best place to work.”

Hmmm… sounds like Laura attended the same partnership training seminar where John August and Dave Regan hatched the idea to use terms like “innovative” and “21st century” during this previous episode.

Fortunately, UNITE HERE Local 5 ain’t no partnership union. Tomorrow (March 6), the union is holding a protest with the community members in front of the urgent care clinic to oppose the closure. 

And the union’s 100-member bargaining committee has “authorized their union to move forward with preparations, including a strike” in order to protest the clinic’s closure and layoffs that will affect 13 of the union’s members, according to an article titled "Kaiser Workers Approve Protest by Union."

Quite a difference between regular unions and 'partnership unions.'

Tasty sends his congrats to all the Kaiser workers and patients at tomorrow’s rally in Honolulu! Here are the news stories cited above.