Thursday, October 31, 2013

SEIU's Dave Regan Seeks Secret Unionization Pact with California Hospital Association

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan has spent the past two years trying to negotiate a secret unionization deal with the California Hospital Association, according to insiders.

Under Regan’s proposed pact, California’s hospital corporations would designate SEIU-UHW as their ‘preferred union’ and would allow SEIU-UHW to unionize their workers without a fight. SEIU-UHW would then force the newly organized workers into cheap, pre-negotiated “template” contracts.

For those who are familiar with the Purple Palace’s past adventures, this back-door scheme is classic “SEIU.” And it has Dave Kieffer’s fingerprints all over it.

Unfortunately, there’s one small problem with Regan's current entrepreneurial effort.

The Bosses aren’t buying Regan’s deal… even though “Wall Street” Dave has made a hefty sales
Cal.Hospital Assn's Duane Dauner
pitch to his business-suited buddies. Apparently, Regan and the California Hospital Association even hired a management consulting firm to prove to the Bosses that there’s a "business case" for allowing SEIU-UHW to become their "preferred union."

So… since the Bosses aren’t swallowing Regan’s secret unionization scheme, Regan is now trying to find ways to convince them to sign a deal.  


Regan is planning to use a two-part strategy of (1) cheapening the deal for the Bosses by further dumbing down the terms of workers’ pre-negotiated contracts and (2) pressuring the Bosses by threatening to file statewide ballot initiatives that would try to inflict financial pain on California's hospital industry.

The latter part is a re-run of Regan’s failed efforts of the past.

In 2003, Regan was reprimanded by the Ohio Elections Commission when he tried to use a ballot campaign to “blackmail” county officials into allowing SEIU 1199 Ohio to unionize county workers, according to a series of articles about “Issue 15” in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

In 2012, Regan tried to use a similar unsuccessful ballot scheme in California. That year, Regan spent $5.5 million of SEIU-UHW members' dues dollars to collect signatures to place two initiatives on the statewide ballot. In the end, however, Regan backed down from his ballot threat, which would've required SEIU-UHW to spend millions more dollars to actually convince voters to back the measures on election day.

SEIU's Meg Niemi after a hefty dose of snake oil.
This time around, Regan is reportedly threatening to re-run the same two 2012 ballot initiatives and also to add a third one that would threaten to limit hospital CEOs’ salaries. 

During the next few days, SEIU-UHW will reportedly submit its ballot initiatives to the Attorney General’s office for “title and summary” requests -- the first step in the initiative process.

Interestingly, Tasty hears that Regan convinced Meg Niemi, the president of SEIU Local 49 in Oregon, to run five ballot measures in Oregon! 

Apparently, Niemi swallowed a hefty dose of Regan’s snake oil, and is busy preparing “Issue 15”-styled campaigns in hopes that thousands of "template" workers will pour into her union like manna from heaven.

Stay tuned, because Tasty plans to publish more details about Regan’s back-room deal with the Hospital Association! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

SEIU's Andy Stern Finds New Romance in Pension-Slashing Adventure

SEIU's Andy Stern
Remember Andy Stern’s “bromance” with Ron Perelman, the billionaire venture capitalist?

Well, don’t tell Ron, but it looks like Andy has fallen head over heels for a younger venture capitalist who’s busy slashing workers’ pensions. 

Ain’t that a perfect match for SEIU’s President Emeritus? After all, SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan, one of Andy's best buddies, has already destroyed the defined-benefit pensions of tens of thousands of healthcare workers in California.

Who, exactly, is Andy’s new love object? 

She’s Gina Raimondo, a 42-year-old former venture capitalist who’s now the Treasurer of Rhode Island.

Gina Raimondo
Raimondo is waging a war on public workers' pensions and has rammed through a law that’s “slashing benefits of state employees with a speed and ferocity seldom before seen by any local government,” according to “Looting the Pension Funds” by Matt Taibbi, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine.

What kinds of cuts?

She “raised the minimum retirement age, suspended annual cost-of-living increases and replaced the state's defined-benefit pension with a hybrid that includes a 401k-style plan,” according to the Providence Journal.

And that’s not all. 

She funneled a billion dollars of workers’ pension money to her buddies who run hedge funds on Wall Street. These hedge fund fatcats, who are charging Rhode Island taxpayers $70 million a year in "investment fees," are in turn showering Raimondo with campaign contributions for her expected run for governor.

Earlier this month, AFSCME released a 106-page forensic investigation performed by a national financial expert that shines the light on Raimondo's scam. The report begins this way:  

Two years ago, Rhode Island's state pension fund fell victim to a Wall Street coup. It happened when Gina Raimondo, a venture capital manager with an uncertain investment track record of only a few years… got herself elected as the General Treasurer of the State of Rhode Island with the financial backing of out-of-state hedge fund managers. Raimondo's new role endowed her with responsibility for overseeing the state's entire $7 billion in pension assets.

The report, which received prominent coverage in the Providence Journal, continues:
The Treasurer has emerged as the leading national advocate of a disingenuous form of public pension 'reform' which involves slashing worker's benefits and thwarting public access to information regarding the riskiest of pension investments while, in secret, dramatically increasing the risks to retirement plans and the fees they pay to Wall Street.

The financial expert, Ted Siedle, goes on to charge Raimondo with committing multiple violations of state and federal laws.

So… what does Andy Stern think about Raimondo?

Just days after Siedle and AFSCME trashed Raimondo in the Providence Journal, Stern rushed to her defense by publishing an op-ed in the same newspaper. In the op-ed, entitled “Raimondo Right to Use Investment Tools,” Stern says things like this: 

I have met and talked with Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo… it is not helpful to attack her integrity and motives... While one can debate whether Rhode Island was right to alter benefits for current employees and pensioners, Rhode Island should be applauded for using all the tools in the modern investment manager’s toolkit to generate the returns workers are counting on to pay for their pensions.

Gimme a break! Once again, when workers are in a fight, Stern rushes to the Boss's side.

According to observers, Raimondo’s looting of public pensions is just the leading edge of a broader national attack against workers’ pensions. According to the Rolling Stone, one of Raimondo’s key supporters is “billionaire former Enron executive John Arnold – a dickishly ubiquitous young right-wing kingmaker with clear designs on becoming the next generation's Koch brothers, and who for years had been funding a nationwide campaign to slash benefits for public workers.”
Ron Perelman

Back on Wall Street, three of the hedge fund owners who are getting rich off Raimondo’s pension scam also happen to serve “on the board of the Manhattan Institute, a prominent conservative think tank with a history of supporting benefit-slashing reforms. The institute named Raimondo its 2011 "Urban Innovator" of the year,” according to the Rolling Stone.

Taibbi's article offers more details about the scam engineered by Raimondo, summarizing it this way:
This is the third act in an improbable triple-fucking of ordinary people that Wall Street is seeking to pull off as a shocker epilogue to the crisis era.

Where does all of this leave Stern?

Let's face it. Andy is a pathetic figure. He long ago threw in his lot with billionaire capitalists like Ron Perelman. Nowadays, Andy's corporate pals let him prance around in a business suit and salivate over stock options in exchange for Andy lending his title as SEIU's President Emeritus to anti-worker causes backed by big business. Stern, like so many other SEIU leaders, is for sale to the highest bidder.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Penn State's Employees Beat Back SEIU-Styled Wellness Program

Remember the corporate wellness programs that Dave Regan rammed down the throats of tens of thousands of SEIU-UHW’s members at Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, Sutter Health and the Daughters of Charity Health System?

Well, check out an interesting development, which speaks volumes about how badly SEIU is screwing its members.

Recently, Penn State University tried to implement a wellness program like the ones that Regan and his corporate bedmates have already imposed on California’s healthcare workers.

The plan, which Penn State administrators call “Take Care of Your Health,” requires employees to undergo regular biometric testing (body weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking, etc) and to hand over tons of intimate details about their health, sex life, habits, marital situation, etc by filling out extensive online health questionnaires.

If employees fail to fill out the questionnaire, Penn State planned to dock their pay $100 a month, according to this article in the New York Times.

So how does the Penn State program compare to Regan's wellness plans?

Interestingly, a number of Regan's programs are even worse. At the Daughters of Charity Health System, SEIU-UHW's 3,000 members have to pay a "wellness penalty" of up to $5,200 a year if they fail to fill out the intrusive wellness questionnaire.

Luckily, Penn State’s employees are not represented by SEIU. So here’s what they did.

The faculty senate, a volunteer group of professors that meets monthly, waged a fight against the administration and its wellness program. And they won! Penn State stopped the program, as described in this New York Times article.

The Times reports that employees and professors were especially angry about the invasion of their privacy. Some employees even called for a campaign of civil disobedience to disrupt the program. Others circulated petitions against the program.

Their successful fight offers a sharp contrast with SEIU, which has repeatedly forced wellness programs onto its members in order to please SEIU's corporate partners. 

Hmmm... What does it say when an unpaid group of professors and employees is far better at defending workers’ privacy rights and health benefits than SEIU?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

SEIU's Dave Regan Peddles More Purple Lies at Dignity Health

SEIU's Dave Regan
Check out Dave Regan’s latest act of dishonesty.

Earlier this week, SEIU-UHW mailed a leaflet (see below) to thousands of union members employed at more than 30 Dignity Health hospitals in California. 

The leaflet says that Dignity plans to shut down an Education Fund that pays for career-ladder training courses for SEIU-UHW’s members. The fund lets workers to train for higher-paid jobs.

Here’s an excerpt from the leaflet:
Our SEIU-UHW Joint Employer Education Fund has provided training and recertification – helping both employees and Dignity Health. Yet, Dignity isn’t agreeing to continue this program. Unless Dignity management agrees to continue funding, Dignity Health employees will no longer be eligible for Education Fund programs as of January 1, 2014.
Sounds terrible. 

So what’s the real story?

Well, it turns out that SEIU-UHW's leaflet has carefully omitted a few, uh, minor details. Like the fact that Regan and his sidekick Hal Ruddick actually AGREED to let Dignity shut down the Education Fund!

Below, Tasty has posted a copy of the agreement that Regan and Ruddick signed during their sell-out contract negotiations with Dignity in June of 2012 which allows Dignity to shut down the training fund. Here’s an excerpt:
Article 4, Education Fund
The current Education Fund shall continue through December 2013… Thereafter… the Employer shall have no additional funding obligations for either fund... In the event no [alternative funding sources] are available, participation in the Joint Fund shall sunset unless otherwise agreed in the reopener. (emphasis added)
Regan, rather than coming clean about his deal to shutter the training fund, is trying to channel workers' anger away from SEIU-UHW's headquarters.

Quite disgraceful.

The Education Fund, which was set up by Sal Rosselli’s team during the decade before SEIU’s trusteeship, had successfully steered millions of Dignity/CHW’s dollars into training programs for workers.

Not any more.

The elimination of the training fund is just the latest in a string of devastating cuts that Regan has accepted from Dignity’s fatcat bosses since "Wall Street" Dave parachuted into California in 2009. 

In 2010, Regan and Ruddick lied to Dignity’s workers while they eliminated 14,000 workers' defined-benefit pension plan and replaced it with a 401(k)-like plan, thereby saving hundreds of millions of dollars for Dignity's bosses.

And in 2012, Regan allowed Dignity to freeze SEIU-UHW members’ wages and implement more benefit cuts... even though the company was making massive profits. 

The stunning scale of Regan’s sell-out deals now stands in even sharper relief since the California Nurses Association negotiated a recent contract for its 12,000 members at Dignity -- without any of the cuts, wage freezes or concessions that Regan swallows like so many drinks at his favorite bar.

Here are the documents.