Tuesday, August 25, 2015

SEIU Launches For-Profit Unionism from Tech-Styled "Business Incubator"

A scene from The Workers Lab "Summer Institute"
"You can't make this sh*t up," says one reader about the following story.

Last year, Tasty reported that SEIU decided to plow millions of dollars into a Silicon Valley-styled "business incubator" as part of SEIU’s "innovative strategy" to "revitalize" the labor movement by, uhh, adopting more capitalist money-making schemes into SEIU’s operations.

So long, class struggle.

Hello, google capitalism.

SEIU's "business incubator"-- which is modeled after venture capital firms -- is up and running in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

It's called "The Workers Lab" and is headed by President David Rolf (also the president of SEIU Local 775) and CEO Carmen Rojas.  

So what's SEIU’s Workers Lab actually doing?
SEIU's David "Google" Rolf
According to an article published earlier this month by "BuzzFeed," the Workers Lab is buzzing with discussion of "smart phone apps," maximizing revenue streams, profit making, "monetizing" the membership, and using members for "data mining," among other topics.

For example, the center’s staff is excitedly discussing how unions and other organizations can "monetize" their members by using apps to "mine" and then sell a variety of personal data captured from workers. 

The article notes that "low-income to middle-class workers are… a demographic that plenty of outside groups with deep pockets, especially in politics, are looking to learn more about…"

Tasty won’t be surprised when SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern and his billionaire buddy, Ron Perelman, make their appearance at "The Workers Lab" sometime soon. 

Ben Geyerhahn, the CEO of BeneStream -- which is one of Any Stern's for-profit ventures -- currently serves on the Workers Lab's board of directors along with SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

Here are some excerpts from the BuzzFeed article. The full text is available here.

The Workers Lab wants to train labor organizers in the language of Silicon Valley, and outfit them with the dark arts of business school, in hopes of reinvigorating what is widely seen as a dying labor movement…
It’s the last day of The Workers Lab summer institute, a two-day workshop for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to turn their big ideas for empowering workers into sustainable businesses. Though Workers Lab CEO Carmen Rojas and president David Rolf are both present, the man of the hour is clearly Stanford Business School lecturer Michael Bush. Bush has been called in as a consultant to walk the five participating projects through his nine building blocks of revenue-generation. He wears a gold watch on one wrist and a gold bracelet on the other… He says he always starts the class with the same announcement: “I’m going to talk about money.”
The Workers Lab receives funding from the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundation, but at heart, it’s a project of the Service Employees International Union. David Rolf is president of both the lab and the SEIU’s Local 775 in Seattle, the project’s major financial backer. Rolf has been public about his lack of faith in traditional organized labor’s ability to defend the American workforce going forward into the 21st century. He says he’s committed to finding a better solution.
A big part of that commitment is The Workers Lab, an experimental, five-person organization studying whether the principles of capitalism and the structures of startup culture might produce better outcomes for workers today…
"Are you going to be for-profit?” Bush asks Chelsea Sprayregen, one-third of the founding team of a child care project that came in named “Work Hard, Play Hard” and left as “Provide.” After a second’s hesitation, she replies in the affirmative. 
“Good,” Bush said. “I like that." ...
“We need to teach people that empowerment and power are actually different,” [SEIU’s David] Rolf explains. Empowering workers, [CEO Carmen] Rojas says later, means giving them a voice, or advocating for improved conditions. Power, on the other hand, means collective action or access to capital. If that means adopting the tactics of the opposition — from dark money funds to data mining — so be it.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Internal Recording #3: The California Hospital Association Describes a Possible "Nuclear War" with SEIU-UHW over Secret Partnership Deal

Here's a third excerpt from an internal conference call conducted by the California Hospital Association (CHA) in June of 2015 regarding its secret partnership deal with SEIU-UHW.

In this excerpt, Duane Dauner (the CHA’s CEO) tells hospital executives that serious problems are brewing inside his newlywed relationship with SEIU-UHW, forged last year with Dave Regan.

In fact, the problems are so severe they threaten to blow up the entire deal and ignite what Dauner calls a "nuclear war."

What's going on?

First, Dauner says SEIU-UHW will not be successful in delivering the billions of taxpayer dollars required by the deal in order for SEIU-UHW to secure "organizing rights" covering 30,000 hospital workers in 2017.

In the deal, Regan pledged to use SEIU's political influence and $20 million of workers' dues dollars to deliver up to $6 billion a year in new Medicaid ("Medi-Cal") revenues to California hospital corporations by the end of 2016.

According to Dauner, Regan will fail.

Secondly, SEIU-UHW is apparently aware of its impending failure and is once again threatening to use ballot initiatives to pressure the hospital industry to allow it to unionize tens of thousands of hospital workers.

According to Dauner, SEIU-UHW may launch a third round of ballot initiatives as soon as the fall of 2015.

If so, says Dauner, SEIU-UHW will trigger a "nuclear war" that will "blow up" its relationship with the CHA. Dauner says the industry will go "all out" to defeat a new round of SEIU-UHW ballot initiatives.

Here's what Dauner says (you can hear the following statement at the 15:35 minute mark in the video below):
"UHW has threatened to introduce initiatives for 2016 by filing them in 2015 with the Attorney General for title and summary… We will be engaged in a nuclear war and we will be prepared. And we will go ‘all out’ to defeat those initiatives." (15:35)

Thirdly, Dauner reveals that the hospital industry is already maneuvering behind the scenes to mount legal challenges against SEIU-UHW. He mentions one lawsuit that's already underway and says California law prohibits Regan from using the state's ballot initiative system to extract demands from the hospital industry.

Fourthly, Dauner reveals that hospital workers are, at best, an invisible footnote in SEIU-UHW's top-down deal with hospital bosses. For example, SEIU-UHW's deal gives hospital CEOs -- not workers -- the right to choose which workers can actually form unions, according to Dauner. In another aspect of the deal, Regan agreed to a "gag clause" that blocks workers from reporting patient-care violations to government oversight agencies.

It’s no great surprise that the wheels are coming off Regan's so-called "audacious new proposal to save the labor movement." Regan's scheme violates every value of the labor movement and requires workers and their union, SEIU-UHW, to become errand boys for profit-hungry hospital corporations.

Furthermore, it's clear as day that Regan was out-maneuvered by the CHA during the negotiation of the partnership deal. Regan -- and SEIU-UHW's members -- are now stuck with a horrible deal that’s forced SEIU-UHW members to cough up tens of millions of dollars to hospital corporations, has failed to produce a single new union member for SEIU-UHW, and appears headed towards a nuclear conflagration.

Don't be surprised when Regan signs onto an even bigger sellout deal with industry bosses in a desperate attempt to dig his ass out of a hole that's growing deeper by the day.

Here's the audio file, along with PowerPoint slides that the CHA presented to hospital executives during the presentation:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Press: 880 Workers Vote to Decertify SEIU Local 521 in California

Last week, a unit of 880 government workers in Fresno County, Calif. voted to decertify SEIU Local 521 by a vote of 319-228, according to the Fresno Bee

The county employees -- who include corrections officers, child support officers, program technicians, and security guards -- voted to leave SEIU and join a new union called "Fresno County Public Safety Association." 

According to the newspaper, a second unit of approximately 500 benefit eligibility workers, social workers, and job specialists also wants to decertify SEIU. SEIU Local 521 represents public-sector employees in Central California.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Internal Recording #2: The California Hospital Association Discusses its Secret ‘Money-for-Workers’ Deal with SEIU-UHW

Check this out.

A source has sent a second excerpt from an internal conference call held recently by the California Hospital Association regarding its secret deal with SEIU-UHW, which is the subject of a complaint submitted to California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The new recording is quite revealing.

We hear a description -- direct from top execs inside the hospital industry's Chamber of Commerce -- of the basic terms of the secret deal between hospital CEOs and SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan.

According to the recording, the SEIU-CHA deal is basically a 'money-for-workers' transaction.

SEIU-UHW must deliver $4.4 billion a year in new taxpayer-funded Medicaid revenues to California’s hospital corporations… which are already enjoying big profits. (Last week, Kaiser Permanente reported $2 billion in profits during the first six months of 2015.)

And in return for delivering this enormous sum to the bosses ($4.4 billion), SEIU-UHW can basically purchase the right to unionize tens of thousands of California hospital workers. The workers would then be subject to stripped-down wages and benefits, a gag clause, and limited workplace rights.

(Note: In California, Medicaid is referred to as "Medi-Cal.")

The recording below also offers hints about the apparent troubles brewing between the CHA and SEIU-UHW. Note: The beginning of the video is silent while background information is presented to viewers. The audio begins at 45 seconds.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tragedy Stains SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

Barbara Ragan's husband (from Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Here's a breaking story that leaves a tragic and disgraceful stain on Dave Regan's name.

Readers may recall that in December, SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan shamelessly pimped for Kaiser Permanente by pairing up with Kaiser’s top executives, including John Nelson, to deny a variety of well-documented problems affecting thousands of Kaiser’s mental health patients.

Regan famously told Modern Healthcare that Kaiser's mental health staffing violations had been "completely solved." (Of course, Regan forgot to tell the journalist he has no clue about these issues because his union doesn't represent Kaiser’s mental health clinicians.)

Regan’s denials came just three months after Kaiser paid a $4 million fine for "systematically" understaffing its mental health clinics, falsifying patients' appointment records, and forcing patients to wait weeks and months for the treatment of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, and other conditions.

Fast forward to last weekend.

On Saturday, a California newspaper reported the latest suicide of a patient experiencing lengthy appointment delays at Kaiser. The victim was a former member of Regan's own union, SEIU-UHW. She spent 16 years working in the Medical Records Department at a Kaiser South San Francisco Medical Center.

In case that’s not enough, the suicide victim's last name offers a not-so-settle reminder of Dave Regan's shameful denials of mental health patients' struggles to get care at Kaiser. Her last name is "Ragan" -- pronounced identically to "Regan."

According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Barbara Ragan struggled for years with depression and recently sought care from Kaiser's ER after her depression grew worse. On a recent Sunday morning -- in the middle of her two-month wait for a Kaiser psychiatry appointment -- Ms. Ragan drove herself to Kaiser Santa Rosa Medical Center, drove to the top of the Kaiser parking structure, and with her Kaiser card in her hand, jumped to her death.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat quotes her husband as saying the following:
“She drove right over to Kaiser … 16 years working there … she was very upset about them. She went right up to the parking area near the emergency room,” he said. “To me, that’s a statement of what they’re doing out there, how they treat people.”

A member of Sonoma County's Board of Supervisors -- whose own husband committed suicide while waiting 42 days for a Kaiser appointment to treat his depression -- also criticized Kaiser and contradicted Regan's shameful statements. According to the article:
[Sup.] Shirlee Zane disputes assertions that Kaiser has since greatly improved its mental health services.
“Clearly that was not Barbara Ragan’s experience,” Zane said. “She didn’t get what she was seeking; neither did her husband or her children.”
Zane has publicly stated that Kaiser’s lack of mental health services played a role in her husband’s 2011 suicide. She said the HMO’s ongoing problems with access to therapists continue to endanger the lives of those suffering severe mental health issues.
"How many more wake-up calls do they need?” she said. “They have completely and utterly made these public statements that they have improved their services.”
Zane said Kaiser is “exactly where they were two-and-a-half years ago” when the DMHC issued a scathing report criticizing the health plan’s mental health services.

Saturday's article also quotes NUHW’s Sal Rosselli:
“This tragic situation is the inevitable cost of a system run by accountants rather than caregivers,” Rosselli said. “How many people have to die before Kaiser listens to the clinicians they hired to fix the problem?”

What did Dave Regan say to the press?    


Here's a link to the full article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat: "Kaiser Permanente Faces Renewed Criticism over Mental Health Services after Santa Rosa Suicide."

Tasty sends his heartfelt thoughts and condolences to Barbara’s family and friends.