Friday, March 27, 2015

SpongeBob is back! It’s time for SEIU-UHW’s contract negotiations with Kaiser Permanente

With just days to go before the “kick-off” of fake contract negotiations between the “partnership unions” and Kaiser Permanente, SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan appears to have confirmed the rumors about his backroom deal with Kaiser’s bosses by once again deploying a cartoon character -- SpongeBob -- to "rally" tens of thousands of Kaiser workers to “fight” the nation's largest HMO by participating in "wellness walks."

While workers at NUHW, UNITE-HERE, CNA and the Operating Engineers have waged multiple strikes against Kaiser, Regan is apparently relying on SpongeBob to win a good contract.

On Tuesday, Regan deployed human-sized images of SpongeBob in a failed effort to get his union's members to participate in lunchtime “wellness walks" and “walk-a-thons” at Kaiser hospitals across California.

According to workers, SEIU-UHW staffers told them they had to participate in wellness walks to
show Kaiser that workers are "united" and fully supportive of SEIU-UHW. They even tried to bribe workers by offering purple medallions and photo ops with life-sized images of SpongeBob.

No dice, said workers.

At Kaiser Walnut Creek Medical Center in Northern California, a total of 5 of SEIU-UHW’s 1,500 members actually participated in the wellness walk, according to observers. Below is a picture of the participants at the height of the wellness walk.

In 2012, Regan and his half-witted quarter-witted aide, Joe Simoes, famously told workers that SEIU-UHW’s lunchtime "wellness walks" were akin to the launch of a massive social movement like the Montgomery bus boycott. (WTF.)

The truth is that wellness programs are a new corporate HR strategy designed to shift healthcare costs onto employees and undermine workers' privacy. The programs have been sharply criticized by legal experts, advocacy organizations, and unions.

In other words, a "wellness walk" ain't no "fightback strategy." It's the equivalent of waving the white flag of unconditional surrender. Regan might as well gather workers in a rally in front of Kaiser's corporate headquarters and have them chant, "Cut our benefits!"

As far as wellness programs, earlier this month professors from the University of Michigan Law School and Georgetown University published this critique of wellness programs: "Beware: 'Wellness' May Be Hazardous to Your Health.”
Could promotion of "wellness" be hazardous to your health? Sadly, the answer is yes… Some employers ask workers to complete a Health Risk Assessment or HRA… Often accompanied by physical exams or blood tests, HRAs typically include questions about a wide range of personal matters… Not surprisingly, people don't always feel comfortable about answering such questions from their bosses… Once disclosed, sensitive health information too often has been used to discriminate against workers who have diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, and other conditions despite their ability to perform their job.

In 2012, Regan famously teamed up with Kaiser's bosses to impose a corporate wellness program on SEIU-UHW’s members -- including invasive questionnaires and blood tests that allow their multi-billion-dollar employer to gather mountains of data on their private lives and bodies.

What's next?

Look for a SpongeBob at a Kaiser hospital near you as Diamond Dave boldly leads the labor movement into the 21st century. More pics below.