Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Recording Reveals Secret Deal behind SEIU-UHW’s Planned Benefit Cuts at Kaiser Permanente

It’s long been rumored that SEIU and Kaiser Permanente signed a secret business deal whereby (1) SEIU agreed to cut the pensions and health benefits of SEIU-UHW’s 45,000 members in California in return for (2) Kaiser’s commitment to allow tens of thousands of future Kaiser employees to join SEIU when they're hired at newly constructed facilities in other states.

Sources say this secret deal -- which would add millions of dollars of dues to SEIU’s coffers -- helps explain recent reports about Dave Regan’s efforts to speed up the implementation of benefit cuts if SEIU-UHW wins this month's NLRB election at Kaiser.

Now, an inside source has provided an audio recording that, for the first time, captures a top SEIU official discussing SEIU's backroom deal with Kaiser. The recording features none other than Dave Regan speaking to a room full of union officials from SEIU and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, headed by John August.

First, Regan describes Kaiser’s plans for expanding under national health reform, which -- according to Regan -- will add 90,000 new employees and more than double Kaiser’s revenues during the next ten years. Next, Regan says the following:
If [Kaiser] achieves that, we’ll have about 250,000 people instead of 165,000 who work for Kaiser. And I think that would be a great thing. Ninety thousand more Kaiser jobs, most of them being in the Coalition of Kaiser Unions, would be a great thing. That’s where they [Kaiser] want to go. And I think it is our job to figure out a strategy that gets us to that point.
Here's the recording:

So what's SEIU’s strategy for "getting us to that point?" It's trading away billions of dollars of California workers’ pension and health benefits so SEIU can add more union members in other states without conducting union elections.

Both Kaiser and SEIU would profit handsomely. But SEIU-UHW’s 45,000 members stand to lose their defined-benefit pension plan and suffer deep cuts to their health benefits. That’s why SEIU has hidden this deal from them.  

The workers, instead, are being used as a giant bargaining chip on the private gameboard run by SEIU and Kaiser’s execs.

And this isn’t the first time that SEIU has tried to sell out its members through this sort of secret deal. In 2007, SEIU made a similar concessions-for-new-members transaction with Tenet Healthcare. In that case, SEIU agreed to subcontract the jobs of hundreds of SEIU members’ jobs in exchange for Tenet
allowing some of its facilities in other states to turn purple.

It's quite a story. And one that Kaiser workers need to take to heart... unless they enjoy getting played like so many pieces in a Monopoly game.