Sunday, November 30, 2014

Partnership Unions' Bargaining Survey Speaks Volumes

Here's the latest from Kaiser.

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (a.k.a. "the partnership unions") has begun circulating a bargaining survey in advance of upcoming national negotiations covering 90,000 workers at Kaiser facilities across the U.S.  The negotiations are scheduled to begin April 14, 2015.

So… Are top officials at the partnership unions planning to fight Kaiser's effort to cut workers' pensions and health benefits?

It sure doesn't look like it.

Check out the Coalition's bargaining survey (see below). It doesn't even mention the idea of preserving the defined-benefit pension plan that Kaiser is trying to replace with a 401(k) plan. And it fails to mention the health benefit cuts that Kaiser has already proposed to the Coalition.

Instead, here’s how the survey attempts to re-frame the Coalition’s dumbed-down bargaining goals:

Completely lame and dishonest, right?

Also absent from the survey? Any mention of Kaiser's record $14.5 billion in profits and its skyrocketing executive pay.

So who's responsible for the survey?

SEIU-UHW, with half of the Coalition's total membership of 90,000 workers, is by far the largest union inside the Coalition and consequently calls all the shots inside the Coalition. In fact, one of Dave Regan's staffers -- Hal Ruddick – is the Executive Director of the Coalition and will be its lead negotiator at the bargaining table.

Meanwhile, the non-partnership unions are intensifying their fight against Kaiser even as partnership union officials prepare to jam cuts down their members’ throats.

Earlier this month, the California Nurses Association’s 18,000 RNs conducted a two-day strike at Kaiser. Also this month, NUHW’s members -- who’ve waged a four-year battle against the cuts and scored a $4 million fine against the HMO -- announced the results of a membership vote to authorize another statewide strike against Kaiser. And in Hawaii, UNITE HERE Local 5 has staged multiple strikes and job actions to oppose cuts to workers' benefits.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cash-Strapped SEIU-UHW to Sell $5M Office as Hospital Association Debt Comes Due

New developments point to serious financial problems at Dave Regan's SEIU-UHW -- including Regan's decision to sell the union's San Francisco office to generate $5 million of needed cash.

Observers say the crisis is due to Regan's secret deal with the California Hospital Association (CHA), which requires SEIU-UHW to fork over $20 million of SEIU-UHW members' money -- equivalent to one-fifth of the union's annual budget -- to a political fund that hospital owners will use to try to boost their bottom lines by $6 billion a year..

The rushed sale of the office building -- a four-story structure with 12,880 square feet of office space in downtown San Francisco -- underscores the urgency of the Regan's financial problems. According to a four-page real estate listing (see below), Regan doesn't even have a new office to house the soon-to-be displaced union staffers. Instead, the union will have to pay rent to the new owner while Regan looks for somewhere to put them.

Good luck with that. Due to San Francisco's red-hot real estate market, it will be impossible to find affordable office space anywhere near the city -- meaning Regan’s sale of its office building will permanently eliminate the union's footprint from a city where approximately 20,000 of its members work.

And that's not all.

Sources say Regan is attempting to quadruple the amount of money that's taken from union member's dues each month and placed into a political action fund (PAC). This money, too, will be used to back hospital companies' political campaign to boost their bottom line.

If Regan is successful at pushing through this political tax, which would begin in 2015, it would mean less money to hire staff to provide representation and workplace support to union members. Regan's scheme -- which will be considered at an upcoming meeting of the union's Executive Board -- would steer $2.9 million a year into politics and away from representational support for union members.

Lastly, sources say Regan is also trying to cut SEIU-UHW staffers' medical benefits in another scheme to free up money to pour into the CHA’s coffers.

What's next?

Stay tuned for Regan’s next scheme to cannibalize the union. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

“What happens in Vegas…”

It turns out that Dave Regan’s reported effort to snatch 9,000 members from "SEIU Nevada" isn't his first attempt to rig events inside this local union.

In 2007, when Regan was the president of SEIU 1199 Ohio, he illegally funneled thousands of dollars to Andy Stern’s favored candidate in internal union elections taking place inside the same Nevada union.

In fact, Regan was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor for making illegal contributions to Stern’s candidate, Jane McAlevey, who was competing against rank-and-file members for control of the union.

In April 2008, the Department of Labor issued a two-page letter (see below) detailing Regan's illegal contributions, among other “investigative findings.” 

At the time, sources reported that McAlevey used Regan's illegal funding "to unseat officers who were on McAlevey’s enemy lists in the local because [they] questioned her pushing the Andy Stern agenda."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Source: SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan Is Pursuing Backroom Deal to Snatch 9,000 Members from SEIU Nevada

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan
SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan is attempting to snatch 9,000 members from “SEIU Nevada” through a backroom deal with the local's president, according to inside sources.

Here's what's happening:

SEIU Nevada’s 18,000 members are roughly divided between public-sector workers (mainly Clark County employees) and private-sector workers in the healthcare industry.

In July of 2013, Martin Bassick, a county employee, was elected president of SEIU Nevada. 

Regan apparently approached Bassick about splitting SEIU Nevada’s membership in half and "giving" the union’s 9,000 healthcare workers to Regan. It's not clear what Bassick would get in return. According to Tasty’s sources, these discussions have taken place completely "behind the members' backs."

If Nevada’s healthcare workers were handed over to Regan, observers say it would be disastrous.

Regan is notorious for making backroom deals with employers and would likely use Nevada's 9,000 workers as bargaining chips to get better deals from HCA and Dignity Health for Regan’s 150,000 members in California. In 2008, Regan famously backed a deal to trade away the pensions of SEIU workers in one state in order to advance SEIU officials’ personal agendas in other states.

Observers also point to Regan's track record at SEIU-UHW, where he has…
  • Slashed workers’ health insurance, retirement plans and other benefits -- including the elimination of 20,000 workers’ pensions at Dignity Health and Daughters of Charity Health System.
  • Aggressively boosted monthly union dues, including a 50% increase in the maximum dues rate to $124 per month -- with an ongoing $10 increase each year, which means the top rate is now $134 per month!
  • Dramatically increased Regan's own salary to $300,000 a year and also transformed SEIU-UHW into a profit-making machine, with the union ending last year with $38 million in cash
  • Made countless backroom deals with bosses including a recent deal with the California Hospital Association that would lower workers’ pay and benefits, prohibit workers from criticizing hospitals' poor patient-care practices, and ban workers from striking.

It sounds like SEIU Nevada's members ought to give Bassick a jingle over at the Lacquered Up Nail Salon on Rainbow Blvd.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Press: Andy Stern’s Venture Capitalist GF Faces Possible Punishment at Polls

Remember when SEIU’s Andy Stern rushed to the defense of Gina Raimondo, a former venture capitalist who slashed the pensions of Rhode Island workers and then funneled a billion dollars of workers’ retirement money to her buddies at Wall Street hedge funds?

Well, Raimondo is now trying to become the Governor of Rhode Island… but is facing blowback from voters due to her pension-slashing extravaganza, according to the New York Times.

Raimondo, a Democrat, should have an easy time getting elected in Rhode Island, where Dems outnumber Republicans by 4 to 1.

But here's what the New York Times reported in an article over the weekend (“In Rhode Island Governor’s Race, Pension Issue Could Hurt Raimondo,” Nov. 1, 2014):
In this Democratic state, Ms. Raimondo could be expected to be doing well, but a Brown University poll released on Tuesday showed her and Mr. Fung running neck and neck. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report now calls the race a tossup. One big reason is the pension issue, which alienated the public-sector unions, an important ally in any traditional Democratic coalition.
If Raimondo loses tomorrow's election, let’s hope she’s consigned to the political dustbin for, uh, maybe an eon or two. 

Raimondo -- who critics describe as "a tool of Wall Street” who “trumped up the pension problem to enrich her Wall Street friends, in part through increased state payments in hedge fund fees” -- seems to symbolize everything that's wrong in a society where billionaires and hedge-fund fatcats enjoy unprecedented wealth at the expense of the rest of us. 

And Andy Stern, of course, represents everything that's wrong with corrupt union leaders who rush to the side of the Perelmans, Raimondos, and David Cotes instead of workers.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

SEIU’s Election-Year Flip Flop Reveals Terms of Secret Deal with California Hospital Industry

In California, SEIU has achieved a new level of notoriety by committing an election-year flip-flop that’d make even the most cynical politician blush.

The flip-flop is discussed in an op-ed published yesterday in the state capital’s largest newspaper (Sacramento Bee: “SEIU Sells Out on Prop. 45”). (Also in the San Francisco Examiner).

Here's the story.

Just months ago, SEIU was waging a highly publicized statewide campaign to control runaway healthcare costs that are hurting millions of families across the state. Sounds good, right?

Well… it turns out SEIU’s support for consumers is as deep as piss on a flat rock.

In the run-up to this Tuesday’s elections, SEIU unceremoniously tossed California’s consumers under the bus and instead threw all of SEIU’s political support behind the state’s multibillion-dollar insurance industry in a battle over a key measure on the ballot.

The measure -- Proposition 45 -- would give California’s elected insurance commissioner the power to limit exorbitant rate hikes imposed by HMOs on consumers. Thirty-five other states already have such a system in place.  

Prop. 45 is sponsored by a statewide nonprofit consumer organization called "Consumer Watchdog" and is backed by a coalition of consumer groups, community organizations, unions and others.

Who opposes Prop. 45?

California's HMOs and hospital corporations. They've already spent more than $57 million to try to defeat Proposition 45 -- and have outspent the measure's supporters by 14 to 1.

And then, of course, there's SEIU-UHW and the SEIU California State Council (SEIU’s statewide political arm)… which have joined industry CEOs in aggressively opposing Prop. 45. For example, SEIU-UHW sent this "Official Election Endorsement" to its 145,000 members. And here's a link to the SEIU State Council's election materials.

So why did SEIU commit such a massive act of betrayal against California's consumers?

SEIU's Regan and the CHA's Duane Dauner
It’s reportedly due to a "gag" clause in the "partnership agreement" that SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan inked with the California Hospital Association several months ago. 

The clause specifically prohibits SEIU from either sponsoring or supporting any legislation or ballot measures that are opposed by the insurance and hospital industries. 

Incredible, right? 

And that's reportedly just a small fraction of what SEIU traded away to industry CEOs... including a long list of other worker and consumer rights. 

Here are the details provided by NUHW’s Sal Rosselli in the Sacramento Bee:
So why has the Service Employees International Union – the nation’s largest health care workers union – joined health insurance corporations in opposition to Prop. 45?
The answer: A few months ago, SEIU signed a corrupt deal with those companies in which it promised that in return for the opportunity to unionize 60,000 California health care workers, SEIU would not criticize these corporations or support legislation they oppose. SEIU explicitly agreed to prohibit its 150,000 California members from participating in “communications that degrade or attack a signatory hospital or health system or the hospital industry” or that raise “concerns about hospital pricing and executive compensation in health care.”
In other words, SEIU has formally abdicated its watchdog role. In exchange for the chance to collect dues from 60,000 new members, SEIU has officially sold out their workers and is actively campaigning in support of their employers’ political goals. This is the very definition of a company union.
SEIU and California Hospital Association officials tout their deal as “revolutionary.” And perhaps they’re right. A defining principle of the labor movement is that unions represent workers. With a few strokes of the pen, SEIU has effectively silenced its members and put their dues dollars at the disposal of wealthy and powerful corporations.
Meanwhile, consumers lose, health care workers lose and democracy loses.