Monday, November 23, 2015

Kaboom! SEIU-UHW Dave Regan's Deal with California Hospital Association Implodes in Fiery Display

Dave Regan's "partnership" with the California Hospital Association (CHA) has officially imploded.

Late last week, SEIU-UHW announced it is re-filing a statewide ballot initiative that targets the CHA's members for the third time in four years, according to the Sacramento Business Journal and California Healthline.

It’s Regan’s latest attempt to pressure the CHA into an act of industrial love-making that’s been widely criticized for trading away workers' wages, benefits, working conditions, and their right to advocate for patients.

In response to the announcement, CHA’s CEO Duane Dauner issued a press release on November 20 attacking SEIU-UHW and declaring an end to CHA’s partnership with SEIU-UHW. The CHA’s press release begins this way:

Filing of Harmful Ballot Measure by SEIU-UHW is an Abuse of California’s Initiative Process
New Ballot Measure Attacking Executive Compensation Violates May 2014 Agreement
NOVEMBER 20, 2015
Today’s  decision by SEIU-UHW (UHW) to file a harmful ballot measure that will negatively impact the operations of hospitals throughout California is an abuse of the state’s initiative process and violates a May 5, 2014 agreement negotiated between the California Hospital Association (CHA) and UHW.
This is the third time UHW has attempted to use the initiative process to further its organizing agenda. As was the case in 2011-12 and 2013-14, the measure filed today does nothing to fix Medi-Cal or increase access to hospital services.
CHA is evaluating appropriate actions to pursue in light of this filing. 

Of course, Regan's deal with the CHA has been on the rocks for months.
SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

In August, Dauner told industry executives that Regan was failing to deliver on his promise to funnel billions more dollars of tax-payer funds into industry executives' pockets, and that Regan was also failing to unionize hospital workers under the sweetheart deal, according to leaked recordings from a CHA conference call.

Also in August, Regan began to threaten to re-file ballot initiatives, which Dauner said would precipitate a "nuclear war" that would "blow up" SEIU-UHW's relationship with the CHA.

Last week, a purple mushroom cloud signaled the official end of Wall Street Dave's bromance with Duane.

The nuclear conflagration represents a massive failure for Regan.

Just a year ago, Regan crowed about his deal with the CHA, claiming it would allow SEIU-UHW to unionize 100,000 California hospital workers. Regan famously called it an "audacious new proposal to save the labor movement" …even though it violated every value held dear by the labor movement.

Last week's collapse is also a giant financial failure. Regan has already gambled upwards of $20 million of SEIU-UHW members' union dues on his CHA strategy. In return, SEIU-UHW has successfully unionized only 70 workers under the deal. Ouch!

Can Regan once again use statewide ballot measures to pressure the CHA to climb back into bed with SEIU-UHW (presumably, at an even cheaper price)?

CHA's Duane Dauner
It's unclear. 

First, Regan will need to spend another $4-5 million simply to collect enough signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

Meanwhile, Regan appears to have limited cash at his disposal. He's currently spending $4 million to qualify an unrelated ballot initiative to raise the statewide minimum wage, even as Mary Kay Henry and the SEIU California State Council push a competing measure.

In June, SEIU-UHW's Executive Board authorized Regan to use $4 million from the sale of SEIU-UHW's San Francisco office to fund his minimum wage ballot initiative, according to official meeting minutes dated June 3, 2015. If SEIU-UHW actually wants to win the minimum wage measure, it will need to spend millions more.

Where will the money come from?

Earlier this year, Regan lost half of SEIU-UHW's membership in a battle with SEIU's national leaders, thereby slashing SEIU-UHW's revenues and COPE funds.

And then there's the problem of a new state law (Senate Bill 1253) authored by former Sen. Darrell Steinberg that criminalizes the misuse of California ballot initiatives to extort "any thing of value… for the purpose of withdrawing an initiative petition after filing it with the appropriate elections official."

Stay tuned as Dave grapples with his latest Shakespearean drama!