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.