Wednesday, November 18, 2015

SEIU-UHW Resorts to More Ramrod Ratification Votes at Daughters of Charity Health System

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan is once again trying to shove massive takeaways down the throats of several thousand workers at the Daughters of Charity Health System, according to workers at the chain's hospitals. 

As in 2012, Regan has launched a series of ramrod ratification votes aimed at pushing a sell-out contract through the union's membership.

Yesterday, SEIU-UHW staffers conducted "ratification votes" at O'Connor Hospital in San Jose, Calif. and St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, Calif. for a tentative agreement that’s "the worst contract in our history," according to a worker and SEIU-UHW member.

Among the contract's givebacks is a mega-whopper.  

According to contract language leaked to Tasty, Regan has agreed to slash and burn eligibility standards for workers' benefits (e.g., health insurance, vacation pay, sick pay, retirement, etc) so that hundreds of SEIU-UHW members would be stripped of their benefits, including the health insurance for their children.

What did Regan do?

Under the current contract, workers are eligible for benefits as long as they work half time or more – that is, at least 20 hours per week. This is a decades-old, industry-wide eligibility standard established by Local 250 and Sal Rosselli's union. Here's the actual language from the current contract between SEIU-UHW and the Daughters of Charity will (see the language for "Regular Part-time" employees):

Next, here's the NEW language that Regan inked during secret negotiations with company executives. This is the new standard that Regan is trying to ram down workers’ throats. Workers would be required to work at least three-quarters time (30 hours per week) to qualify for health insurance and other benefits. A source leaked the following excerpt from Regan’s tentative contract language:

Regan's sharp benefit cuts represent a concession of massive proportions, according to knowledgeable industry observers. 

If SEIU-UHW establishes this standard with the six-hospital Daughters of Charity chain, other large hospital chains like Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, and Sutter Health will inevitably demand the same concession.

Of course, Regan has already gutted healthcare workers' retirement benefits by helping one hospital chain after another to eliminate workers' decades-old defined-benefit pension plans and replace them with cheap 401(k) plans. 

"The same thing will happen here," says a knowledgeable observer whom Tasty consulted about Regan's massive concession on benefit eligibility standards.

So how are SEIU-UHW's members at the Daughters of Charity responding?

At yesterday's ratification vote at St. Louise Regional Medical Center, only 16 workers voted in favor of SEIU-UHW's sell-out contract, according to workers at the facility. SEIU-UHW reportedly provided so little advance notice to workers that only one-third of the eligible workers were able to cast ballot.

One worker reported the following:
Most members were not even aware that bargaining was happening… SEIU came in a few days ago and announced that it was a done deal! We have been unable to see the full contract, yet they are holding the vote as I write this!  When we found out last week that bargaining was going on, several members asked to attend and were told it was being held in a secret place… It turns out no representative came to the hospital to inform us there was a vote, but one rep came and said, "The contract is settled, it's a done deal."

Another Daughters of Charity worker offered this comment about SEIU-UHW:
It is obvious that we have a union that is simply an extension of the employer who we have to pay dues to for the privelidge of hearing the same arguments made by the employer against worker's best interests. It's a sad day for Labor.

Meanwhile, Tasty hears that workers at nearby Seton Medical Center -- a Daughters of Charity hospital where approximately 700 workers successfully decertified SEIU-UHW and joined NUHW -- are jumping for joy now that they’re finally out of SEIU-UHW. 

Talk about dodging the purple bullet…