Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hospital CEOs and SEIU-UHW: "Hey Workers! Get on the bus to lobby for the Boss"

A reader who works at Dignity Health in California sent the following note:
Hello Tasty,
I thought this might interest you.  It arrived in the mail yesterday.  I think I can say now that SEIU really is a company union.  This is of course right in the middle of contract negotiations.  We've seen SEIU reps here exactly once in the past three months - not that I enjoy seeing them anyway.

The attachment is a letter signed jointly by the hospital’s CEO and SEIU-UHW (see below).  Dignity recently mailed it to workers' homes in an envelope emblazoned with Dignity's logo.

The letter asks workers to attend a rally in the state capitol to lobby state officials to boost taxpayer-funded Medicaid revenues for the hospital industry by billions of dollars a year. According to the letter, hospital officials will excuse workers from their shifts on June 2nd so they can hop on an SEIU-UHW bus that’ll pick workers up in front of the hospital and take them to Sacramento… where they’ll hold “a massive capitol rally” to press legislators and the Governor to deposit billions more dollars into the industry's coffers.

This pro-industry political mobilization -- funded and organized by hospital CEOs and SEIU-UHW -- is supposed to turn out "more than 5,000 people," according to SEIU-UHW's website.

Hmm… but isn't the hospital industry already making tons of money?


Forbes recently reported in an article entitled "Hospital Profits Soar as Obamacare Prescribes More Paying Patients" (March 1, 2015) that “hospital operators continue to see profits and revenue not seen in a decade thanks to the Affordable Care Act…”

California’s hospital companies report booming 2014 profits, including Sutter Health ($458 million), Dignity Health ($913 million), and Kaiser Permanente ($3.1 billion).

So why is SEIU-UHW putting more money in the boss's pocket?

It's a result of Dave Regan's so-called "strategic partnership" with the industry, whereby Regan has become best buddies with company CEOs by making their companies more profitable while at the same time throwing workers and patients under the bus.

Regan's strategy was most recently manifested in his infamous 2014 deal with the California Hospital Association, which delivers a variety of body blows to hospital workers including gag clauses, pre-negotiated contracts, substandard wages and benefits, and a requirement that SEIU-UHW use its members, and at least $20 million of their union dues money, to push the industry's legislative agenda.

Will workers actually see some portion of the billions of dollars that Regan is helping put in the bosses’ pockets?

Regan reportedly failed to negotiate anything like that in his deal with the CHA. Instead, the opposite is true. Regan continues to negotiate cuts to SEIU-UHW members' health benefits, pensions, etc -- even wage freezes at Dignity hospitals -- despite the fact that hospital companies are enjoying unprecedented profits.

As the reader said: "I think I can say now that SEIU really is a company union.”