Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Internal Recording: California Hospital Association's CEO Says SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan Has Failed to Unionize Workers under Sweetheart Deal

A source sent a recording from an internal conference call held recently by the California Hospital Association about its secret deal with SEIU-UHW.

The two-minute recording (see below) highlights growing tensions inside SEIU-UHW about whether Dave Regan’s deal with the CHA is living up to his grandiose promises.

When Regan inked the deal in May of 2014, he triumphantly described it as a "breakthrough agreement" that would allow SEIU-UHW to unionize as many as 60,000 hospital workers across California.

The agreement allows SEIU-UHW to organize 30,000 hospital workers during “Phase 1” of the deal (from May 2014 to December 2016).

In Phase 2 (December 2016 to December 2017), SEIU-UHW can ‘purchase’ the right to unionize an additional 30,000 hospital workers if the union can successfully convince California legislators and Governor Jerry Brown to allocate an additional $6 billion a year of taxpayer funds to California hospital corporations. 

Regan famously secured SEIU-UHW’s so-called "organizing rights deal" by forfeiting workers' rights -- workers’ right to strike, workers’ right to report patient-careviolations to government oversight agencies, workers’ right to negotiate their own wages and benefits, etc.

Regan also agreed to prohibit SEIU-UHW from taking any positions on legislative, regulatory, and ballot issues that are "adverse to the interests" of the hospital industry. In addition, Regan's deal essentially converts SEIU into a lobbying arm for hospital corporations that's dedicated to boosting hospital profits. 

Immediately after signing his deal, Regan jetted to a meeting of SEIU's International Executive Board in Washington, DC and boasted that the deal would literally "save" the labor movement. Days later, Diamond Dave published an article trumpeting his backroom deal ("Live Better Together") and also got journalist Josh Israel to pen a puff piece entitled "The Audacious New Proposal to Save the Labor Movement."

So… now that 15 months have passed since Regan signed the deal, what's happened? Has SEIU-UHW successfully unionized tens of thousands of hospital workers?

Not quite.

As of today, Regan has unionized a grand total of zero workers under the deal. That's right, the big goose egg.

Check out the recording below.

During last month’s conference call with California hospital executives, CEO Duane Dauner reported that so far SEIU-UHW has attempted only two elections under the deal.

In February 2015, SEIU-UHW lost (by a landslide) an election at 552-bed Mission Hospital (Mission Viejo, Calif.) covering approximately 1,000 workers.

In December 2014, SEIU-UHW narrowly won an election for fewer than 100 workers at 158-bed Verdugo Hills Hospital (Glendale, Calif.). However, SEIU-UHW allegedly violated federal labor law by using threats and "acts of physical intimidation" against workers during the election, according to NLRB records.

Earlier this spring, a judge held a trial to investigate SEIU-UHW's alleged violations, but has not yet issued a final ruling. The allegations -- which were filed by the hospital despite its sweetheart deal with SEIU-UHW -- identify Cass Gualvez (an SEIU-UHW staffer and Executive Committee member) who apparently headed the campaign at the Southern California hospital.

So... what does a quick cost-benefit analysis say about Regan's "visionary" deal with the CHA?

So far, Regan has spent approximately $35 million of SEIU-UHW members' dues money on the deal. In exchange, SEIU-UHW has unionized a total of zero workers.

Where did the $35 million go?

First, Regan flushed $10-$15 million down the toilet during two rounds of statewide ballot initiatives, which SEIU-UHW never filed. Next, the CHA agreement requires SEIU-UHW to deposit $20 million into a political fund jointly controlled by the CHA that's used to lobby politicians for billions of additional taxpayer monies for hospital corporations.

Even if you accept Regan's horribly cynical "money-for-members" approach, the current results are nothing less than an unmitigated failure.

It's no wonder, then, that voices inside SEIU-UHW are saying, "$35 million of our monthly dues money for WHAT? Dave sold us a lemon!"

Saturday, July 18, 2015

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan and California Hospital CEOs Borrow a Page from Ronald Reagan's Playbook

Reagan's "Peacekeeper"
Here's more news about SEIU-UHW's secret deal with the California Hospital Association (CHA).

According to a complaint that NUHW recently filed with California Attorney General Kamala Harris, SEIU-UHW and hospital CEOs recently set up a corporate entity to implement the terms of their secret partnership deal. The new corporation is responsible for enforcing the gag clauses that reportedly block workers from reporting patient-care violations to local, state, and federal agencies.

The corporation is governed by a board of directors that includes Regan and hospital CEOs.

What to call the newly formed company responsible for gagging tens of thousands of hospital workers?

Well, Regan and his pin-striped industry pals decided to borrow a page from Ronald Reagan’s playbook by naming their new corporation "Caring for Californians." 

In the 1980s, Reagan famously named a newly developed U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile, which carries up to ten 300-kiloton nuclear warheads, "The Peacekeeper."

Here's a letter printed on "Caring for Californians" letterhead. The company's office is located in the same building as the California Hospital Association. Both Reagan and the CHA's CEO Duane Dauner signed the letter as the "Co-Chairs" of "Caring for Californians." 

The letter also notes that Greg Adams (the President of Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Region) is the "Treasurer" of "Caring for Californians." More records are below.

Arianna Jimenez
Here are two filings that "Caring for Californians" made with the California Secretary of State, including its "Articles of Incorporation." 

The documents again name Duane Dauner and Kaiser's Greg Adams as key officers of the new company. 

One of the records also names SEIU-UHW's Arianna Jimenez as the "Secretary" of the company. Jimenez is UHW’s "Statewide Political Director" and a member of the union's "Executive Committee."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Are Kaiser Permanente's execs headed to Sing Sing? San Quentin?

Last week, several of Kaiser Permanente’s patients and the "Courage Campaign," a grassroots organization in California, held a press conference where they slammed Kaiser for systematically withholding critical mental health services from patients.

During the past two years, state investigators have fined Kaiser millions of dollars for committing "serious" and "systemic" violations of state law by withholding care from thousands of mental health patients, falsifying patients' appointment records, and violating mental health parity laws. (Los Angeles Times, "California Again Slams Kaiser for Delays in Mental Health Treatment," February 24, 2015)

Kaiser's violations are also highlighted in class-action lawsuits that link the violations to multiple suicides.

Last year, Kaiser famously signed a secret agreement with its largest union, SEIU-UHW, which bars the union and its members from reporting patient-care violations to state regulators, according to a complaint NUHW filed with the California Attorney General.

What could possibly be causing Kaiser’s execs to turn their backs on patients with mental illness, who are one of our society's most vulnerable populations?

Profits, of course.

In addition… a reader has sent along a photo that offers interesting clues about the elitist corporate culture that permeates Kaiser's top echelon of fatcat execs.
Part of Kaiser's 17.8-acre administrative office park in Pleasanton, Calif.
The photo comes from Kaiser's administrative offices in Pleasanton, Calif., a 17.8-acre suburban campus that the HMO purchased from computer giant Oracle Corp. in 2008 for upwards of $100 million. It's a sterile, glass-enclosed, tree-lined, corporate theme park that would make most people's stomach turn.

Just a few minutes away, Kaiser's CEO Bernard Tyson owns a multi-million-dollar, 6,121-square foot house with a swimming pool out back.

So… what's the clue about Kaiser's elitist corporate culture?

Apparently, Kaiser's execs at the Pleasanton corporate park decided they could score a few laughs at the expense of America's skyrocketing incarcerated population, 40% of whom are people with mental illness.

The US’s prison crisis is not typically considered a laughing matter. 

The US has the largest incarcerated population of any country in the world (one in 99 adults are living behind bars in the US). African-Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.

But for Kaiser's country club execs, this is apparently a laughing matter.

At their corporate office-park utopia in aptly named Pleasanton, Kaiser decided to name the conference rooms after America's most notorious prisons: Sing Sing, San Quentin, Angola, Attica, Leavenworth, Cook County Jail, Alcatraz, etc. 

Check out the picture from Kaiser's corporate offices at 5810 Owens Drive in Pleasanton.
A list of Kaiser's conference rooms at 5810 Owens Drive, Pleasanton

Apparently, Kaiser's execs are enjoying endless laughs as its overpaid managers -- dressed in three-piece suits and armed with lattes, gold watches, and iPhones -- parade through corporate conference rooms named after the prisons housing millions of the US's most marginalized residents.

"Can you meet at 2:00pm to discuss next quarter’s profit targets?"

"Sure, where are we meeting?"

"How about Sing Sing? Or maybe you'd prefer San Quentin? In that case, ya better give the wife a heads-up cuz I hear people usually do 25 to life in San Quentin. Ha, ha, ha.”

There’s nothing quite like an arrogant HMO that decides to thumb its nose at millions of largely poor, black, brown, and mentally ill people caged inside our prisons.

Here's a humble suggestion. 

Kaiser’s execs should pull their iPhones out of their asses and read this newly published article in The Atlantic: "America's Largest Mental Hospital Is a Jail." It begins: "At Cook County Jail, an estimated one in three inmates has some form of mental illness. At least 400,000 inmates currently behind bars in the United States suffer from some type of mental illness…"

Next, Kaiser might wanna change the name of its conference rooms to something like, uh, "Mental Health Parity" or "Cultural Competence." 

Finally, Kaiser should spend some of its $15.5 billion in profits to actually fix its notorious problems that deny thousands of Kaiser's own members from getting adequate mental health care.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Source: Leak of Dave Regan's Attack Memo Came from Inside SEIU-UHW

Here's the latest info on SEIU's transfer of California long-term care workers to SEIU Local 2015.

Remember Dave Regan's piece called "Who’s Gonna Bell the Cat? The Tyranny of the Majority: Ethics and Values in SEIU?”? That's the memo that slams Mary Kay Henry and was "leaked" to the press.

Well, here's an interesting development.

Tasty's sources have revealed the identity of the "leaker." 

Who is it?

Dave Regan!

According to Tasty's sources, Regan penned the piece with Steve Trossman (SEIU-UHW's Communications Director) and then told Trossman to leak it to the press. Trossman approached his crew of "go-to" reporters (those who reliably publish SEIU-UHW's materials), including Chris Rauber at the San Francisco Business Times and Tracy Seipel at the San Jose Mercury News. Rauber, of course, wrote this story.
Trossman: Cover-ups and Leaks

What's the significance?

Well, it's notable that Regan is now using "leaks" of internal SEIU information as a "weapon" in his self-described "war" against Mary Kay Henry and SEIU. This represents an escalation that’ll inevitably sharpen tensions.

Additionally, it means we can expect that more "leaks" will follow from Regan... and that he'll deploy similar quote-and-dagger tactics against Henry.

Secondly, Tasty has learned that Mary Kay Henry was prepared to trustee SEIU-UHW if Regan had refused to transfer UHW's 65,000 long-term care workers. In fact, the staff of multiple California SEIU local unions were on "24-hour-a-day standby" to receive orders from SEIU to carry out the seizure of SEIU-UHW’s offices.

Finally, here's the latest news about SEIU Local 2015, the new statewide union.

According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, Mary Kay Henry has named Laphonza Butler -- the current president of SEIU Local 6434 -- as the "provisional president" of SEIU Local 2015.

On June 22, Butler changed her Facebook profile picture to feature one of herself standing alongside Henry.

The Bee also reports:
“Along with Butler, the new statewide local will be led by Arnulfo De La Cruz, Kim Evon, Robert Li, and April Verrett, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said Tuesday.”
Notably, each of the newly merged unions (Local 6434, Local 521, and SEIU-UHW) will have a representative among SEIU Local 2015’s top five staff people... except for SEIU-UHW! 

Of course, this is another sign that Henry is actively marginalizing Regan and SEIU-UHW. 
Butler's new FB profile picture
Here's some background on the five staffers whom Henry has appointed to run SEIU Local 2015:

Laphonza Butler (2014 pay of $165,952) is the president of SEIU Local 6434, serves on SEIU's International Executive Board, is the president of the SEIU California State Council, and is a close ally of Mary Kay Henry.

Kim Evon (2014 pay of $131,503) is currently the Secretary-Treasurer at Local 6434 and also serves on the board of the SEIU California State Council.

Robert Li (2014 pay of $94,579) is a staff member of SEIU Local 521, where his job title is "Director II," according to the US Department of Labor.

April Verrett (2014 pay of $127,931) is the Executive Vice President of “SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana-Missouri-Kansas,” a union of 64,000 workers whose name grows longer with every SEIU merger. She’s been a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board since she was placed on Mary Kay Henry's slate of IEB candidates in 2012. She’s also on the board of the SEIU Illinois State Council.

As far as Arnulfo de la Cruz, this appears to refer to Arnulfo "Bobby" de la Cruz (2014 pay of $124,223), a longtime SEIU staffer who's been on the Purple Palace’s payroll as an "Assistant Area Director" in California.  De la Cruz’s son is also named “Arnulfo de la Cruz” and works for SEIU as the "National Director" for immigration reform.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Partnership Unions' Tentative Agreements Are Leaked

A copy of the Kaiser partnership unions' "tentative agreements" has finally slipped through the tightly clenched fists of SEIU-UHW officials.

A quick review offers some hints about why they've have treated the TAs like a top-secret White House national security briefing.

First of all, the so-called “TAs” -- which were triumphantly announced by both Kaiser and the partnership unions -- are not actually TAs. 

During labor negotiations, workers and management are supposed to negotiate contract language for the next several-year period. That didn’t happen here. 

Check out the partnership unions' TAs, which was signed by Hal Ruddick ( Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions) and Dennis Dabney (Kaiser Permanente). In small font at the bottom of each page is the following disclosure: "Note: The parties will approve contract language at a later time." 

In other words, the two sides didn't actually negotiate contract language. Instead, the "TAs" appear to be rough guidelines for negotiations that’ll happen at “a later date.”

So what are workers currently voting on during their unions' so-called ratification votes?

Good question.

Some of the language in the “TAs” is so half-baked that it's difficult to know what Kaiser and union officials will possibly end up agreeing to at “a later date.”  In at least one case, there's an actual blank spot in the TAs ("$______ per year") related to an apparent increase in the "partnership tax."

The fact that the negotiations haven't been completed raises a bunch of questions. 
Dennis Dabney with SEIU's Meg Niemi
  • Who will be at the negotiating table when Kaiser and the partnership unions actually negotiate the real contract language? Will the partnership unions' bargaining team be elected? Or will it be filled with union staffers who are notoriously in management's pocket?
  • Will the contract language be presented to union members for a vote?
  • What happens if Kaiser takes a harder line at the real negotiating table and members have already ratified a three-year agreement?
A full copy of the so-called "tentative agreements" is pasted below. Here are a few items that jumped out at Tasty in his quick review of the agreement.

Pension:  The TAs set in motion a process that appears to be designed to eliminate workers' defined-benefit pension plan during the next round of negotiations and replace it with a 401(k) plan. Here's what the agreement says:
"The parties remain committed to working on a joint vision and consistent strategy for retirement programs. To that end, a joint committee will be established to review the pension benefits provided in Section 2.B.2.b., and reflected in Exhibit 2.B.2.b. The purpose of the review will be to explore retirement income programs for the purposes of recruiting and retaining employees, controlling costs and liabilities, and ensuring meaningful and predictable income to KP retirees. The joint committee will provide annual summaries of its progress, and will make consensus pension recommendations at the next round of National Bargaining." (Emphasis added)
Partnership Tax:  It looks like the partnership unions and Kaiser will be extracting more money from workers' paychecks through an increase in the partnership tax. Today, workers are taxed at 9 cents for every hour they work in order to fund Kaiser's partnership. Here's an excerpt from the so-called TAs. Check out the blank.
"Under the funding formula in place in 2015, by 2017 the LMP Trust Fund will take in less money than necessary to continue to fund existing programs at their current level... In order to sustain current operations while keeping up with annual cost increases, as well as to implement the new and revised provisions of the 2015 National Agreement, the LMP Trust Fund should be increased by $_______ per year."
“Changes in the Employer's overall funding of Partnership expenses... shall be at least proportional to employee contributions..."
Hal Ruddick: "Was I supposed to bargain contract language?"
Health Benefit Cuts?  The TAs open the door to cuts in workers' health benefits in 2017. In 2018, under Obamacare, the federal government will begin taxing companies if companies’ health benefits exceed a certain dollar threshold. This is what’s known as the "Cadillac tax." 

In the TAs, the partnership unions have "assured" Kaiser that they will do whatever it takes "to avoid the tax." The only way to avoid the tax is to reduce workers' health benefits by making workers pay a substantial portion of the monthly premiums, by boosting workers’ out-of-pocket expenses, etc. Here's the language from the TAs:
"Cadillac Tax:  Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition are committed to KP being the affordable health-care provider of choice. As part of this commitment, Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition agree to collaborate in assuring that KP is not subject to any PPACA excise tax. If it is determined in May 2017 that a tax would be levied in 2018, the parties will meet and reach consensus decisions by August 2017 to avoid the tax."
Retiree Health Cuts: In 2012, the partnership unions accepted cuts to workers' retiree health benefits that gave Kaiser a $1.9 billion windfall, according to the company's published financial statements. 

In the new TAs, the partnership unions have made more changes to these benefits. However, the language in the TAs is so vague and poorly written that it's unclear how it’ll impact workers. The language appears to place a cap on the amount of money that Kaiser will spend per employee for retiree health benefits. Apparently, workers will be on the hook for the rest. The TAs say:
"Coalition represented employees who retire on or after January 1, 2017, shall be subject to the following: Fixed amounts effective 1/1/2017 of $573 in NCAL and $279 SCAL."
Corporate Wellness Program:  In 2012, the partnership unions proposed a system whereby the boss -- Kaiser -- is allowed to track and monitor workers’ body weight, smoking habits, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. 

Crazy, right?

SEIU-UHW's Dave "Biometric Data" Regan
In the TAs, the partnership unions allow Kaiser to begin capturing even more biometric data from each worker. By 2016, Kaiser will be capturing the following data from workers: smoking, blood pressure, body weight, A1C, mammogram, pap cervical, colorectal, and cancer. 

Welcome to the brave new world of Big Brother... brought to you by Dave Regan and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions!

Local Bargaining:  SEIU-UHW once again failed to conduct any "local bargaining" on worksite issues affecting SEIU-UHW members. Since the 2009 trusteeship, SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan has not convened any local bargaining with Kaiser.

Here's a copy of the TAs.