Monday, April 1, 2013

Source: SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan in Secret Talks with Kaiser Permanente over Pension and Health Cuts

Dave Regan and Kaiser CEO Halvorson
Here’s a breaking report that underscores just how big the stakes are in this month’s giant election at Kaiser Permanente.

According to a knowledgeable source, Kaiser has already begun talks with SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan about speeding up their planned cuts to workers’ benefits if SEIU-UHW wins the election.

Which cuts? Eliminating workers’ defined-benefit pension plan and replacing it with a cheap 401(k) plan. Cutting workers’ health benefits by boosting co-pays and reducing benefits for part-time workers. Making deeper cuts to retiree health coverage.

Of course, SEIU-UHW has already publicly accepted some of these cuts. During last year’s “partnership” bargaining, Regan signed a deal that capped workers’ retiree health benefits. This gave Kaiser a $1.9 billion windfall, according to financial statements (see document below). In addition, Regan accepted cheaper health benefits for one group of SEIU-UHW’s members (IT workers), who now pay $20 co-pays for office visits, etc.

During last year’s negotiations, Regan fully intended to accept Kaiser’s complete package of cuts to workers' pension and health benefits. In fact, check out this short excerpt from Regan’s speech to Kaiser workers in the run-up to negotiations with Kaiser.

Sounds like the Boss talking, right? And consider this: Only about 10 percent of U.S. workers are unionized. According to Regan's logic, shouldn't all of these workers give up their “just cause” rights and a grievance procedures, too?

Of course, Regan isn't the only one talking cuts. During a tape-recorded conference call, Greg Adams (the President of Kaiser’s Northern California region) famously described how Kaiser was “very hopeful” that it would soon cut workers’ benefits “in collaboration with Kaiser's labor partners,” aka SEIU-UHW.

But with the NLRB's re-run election hanging over their heads, Kaiser and Regan agreed to postpone the rest of the cuts until after the election. Tasty’s source indicates that Kaiser and Regan are now discussing various options for speeding up the cuts if (and that’s a big if) SEIU-UHW wins this month’s election.

How would Regan expedite the cuts?

Well, he might take a page from his playbook at Dignity Health, formerly called Catholic Healthcare West. In 2010, Regan signed a deal with Dignity in the middle of workers’ four-year contract that eliminated the defined-benefit pension plan for 15,000 SEIU-UHW members and replaced it with a cheap 401(k)-style plan. By axing the pension, Regan gave Dignity a $217 million payday, according to the company’s financial statements.

So, Kaiser workers, ask yourself this question: "Who can I really trust to defend my pension and health benefits? Dave Regan?"  Or NUHW and the California Nurses Association, who've defended every one of their members' benefits and, through the CNA, won superior wage increases? It's a no-brainer.