Friday, April 24, 2015

Dignity Health Demands Giant Wage and Benefit Cuts from SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

It turns out that SEIU-UHW officials are currently negotiating not just with Kaiser Permanente but also with Dignity Health, which is demanding sharp cuts to 14,000 SEIU-UHW members’ pay and benefits.

Dignity, formerly called "Catholic Healthcare West," is one of the largest hospital chains in the Western United States. And SEIU-UHW’s contract with Dignity is the union’s second largest labor contract after Kaiser.

Readers might recall that in 2009 and 2012, SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan and Hal Ruddick negotiated giant cuts to Dignity workers’ pay and benefits, including the elimination of workers' defined-benefit pension plan, a wage freeze, cuts to health coverage for workers' dependents, an intrusive Wellness Program, and other givebacks.

Here's what's happening in the current negotiations, according to reports from members of SEIU-UHW’s bargaining committee.

Dignity is now demanding wage cuts for SEIU-UHW members in dozens of job classifications.

The company claims that many workers' wages are "above market," so it has proposed a brand new wage grid that’ll slash their pay. According to the bargaining committee, Dignity has the lowest standby and collateral pay in California, and "we got only 2% wage increase for the first two years of our current CBA and on the third year we took a wage freeze." (SEIU-UHW’s current “CBA” or Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire April 30, 2015.)

Dave Regan

Under Dignity's proposal, workers who don't receive wage cuts would get a wage freeze along with a one-time bonus equal to 0.75% of pay.

In addition, Dignity is proposing even more cuts to workers' already-reduced retirement plan.

In 2009, SEIU-UHW's Hal Ruddick helped Dignity to eliminate workers' defined-benefit pension plan and replace it with a cheap 401(k)-like plan. That change produced hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for Dignity, according to the company's financial reports. Ruddick got workers to ratify the cut by blatantly lying to them, as documented in this earlier post.

Now… Dignity wants even more retirement cuts.

The company wants to transfer all of SEIU-UHW's members into a new and even cheaper retirement plan that was set up for Dignity's non-union employees. This change would bring multiple cuts to SEIU-UHW members, including reducing the amount that the company deposits in each worker's retirement account by $2,000 a year.

What's going on? Is Dignity losing money?

Nope. Last year, it made nearly $913 million in profits, according to its audited financial statement

Instead, what's at work here is Dave Regan’s program of "strategic collaboration” with corporate execs. Diamond Dave is more interested in pleasing his corporate partners than fighting on behalf of SEIU-UHW’s members. Earlier this month, Regan told SEIU-UHW’s bargaining committee they could not "debate" their employer at the bargaining table.

The proposed cuts at Dignity are simply the latest in a path of devastating destruction that Dave Regan has carved across California's hospital workforce since he parachuted into California in 2009. For example, Regan has already eliminated the defined-benefit pension plans for more than 25,000 of SEIU-UHW members, thereby shifting billions of dollars from workers' pockets into the hands of their corporate employers. 

Stay tuned as Dave Regan and Hal Ruddick, who engineered the massive cuts at Dignity, serve as the lead negotiators for 90,000 Kaiser workers represented by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.