Sunday, November 10, 2013

SEIU-UHW's Hal Ruddick -- aka "Mr. Giveback" -- Replaces John August as the Head of Kaiser's Partnership Unions

Hall "Mr. Giveback" Ruddick
Last week, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions announced it appointed Hal Ruddick, an SEIU-UHW staffperson, to serve as the Coalition's next Executive Director. 

The announcement follows the unceremonious exit of the Coalition's previous director, John August, after allegations surfaced about his sexual harassment and other abuses against union staffers and workers.

What's in store for workers in the Partnership unions now that Ruddick is at the helm?

It ain't pretty.

In fact, Tasty bets dollars to donuts that Kaiser's fatcat execs are popping champagne bottles in their corner offices. 


First of all, Ruddick is nothing more than an errand boy for SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan, who's an unapologetic advocate of slashing workers' wages and working conditions to please SEIU's employers -- what Regan calls "21st century unionism." In fact, in 2012 Regan oversaw deep cuts in Kaiser workers' retiree health benefits. He also inked a backroom deal that allows Kaiser to eliminate workers' defined-benefit pensions and cut their health benefits.

Secondly, the appointment of one of Regan's staffers to head the Coalition means there's zero chance of any pro-worker voices emerging inside the Coalition if one of the other Partnership unions were inclined to do so. These unions include AFSCME, the Steelworkers, OPEIU, UFCW, AFT and others.

Thirdly, Ruddick is super-experienced at cutting backroom deals with Bosses that eviscerate workers' benefits.

  • In 2010, Ruddick eliminated the defined-benefit pension plan for 14,000 SEIU-UHW members at Dignity Health, which is Kaiser's largest competitor in California. Ruddick shamelessly lied about the cuts by issuing leaflets to workers stating the new 401(k)-like plan was "an improvement." Most workers had no clue about Ruddick's disgusting deception until company officials released their quarterly financial statement, which reported that Ruddick's cuts saved Dignity $217 million during just the first year of the contract.
  • In 2012, Ruddick negotiated a follow-up contract for Dignity's workers that included a wage freeze, health insurance cuts, and more cuts to retirement benefits -- even though the company had pocketed $1.4 billion in profits during the preceding two years. Since then, Dignity's spike in profitability is perhaps unparalleled in the U.S. healthcare industry. According to this recent article in "Becker's Hospital Review," Dignity's profits for 2013 jumped 502% compared to the previous year.
  • In 2008, Ruddick made a backroom deal with the Illinois Association of Healthcare Facilities that allowed nursing home companies to raid workers' health fund. Ruddick's scheme nearly bankrupted the fund, which provides health coverage for 8,000 members of SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana.
Not a pretty track record... especially for someone who'll now be the lead negotiator for roughly 90,000 Kaiser employees whose unions are part of the "labor-management partnership."

One observer put it this way:  “It's like assigning a convicted child molester to run a daycare center.”