Friday, January 29, 2016

Top SEIU-UHW Staffer, Leon Chow, Departs amidst Reported Connections to Man Convicted of 162 Criminal Counts

SEIU-UHW's Leon Chow -- a top staffer for Dave Regan whose brief political career exploded in flames in 2012 -- is getting attention for his alleged connections to an ex-con recently found guilty of more than 150 criminal counts following a multi-year FBI probe.

Chow is no longer employed by SEIU-UHW, where he was paid approximately $120,000 per year.

According to an article in the SF Weekly, Chow has connections to Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow (no relation), who on January 8 was found guilty on 162 counts of racketeering, murder, money-laundering, and dealing in stolen liquor and cigarettes.

During a sentencing hearing in March, Shrimp Boy will face a mandatory life term, according to the Los Angeles Times ("Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow found guilty of 162 counts in massive corruption case," 1-8-16). The FBI investigation involved raids that detained more than 20 people including former State Senator Leland Yee.

What's Leon Chow’s connection to Shrimp Boy?

According to the SF Weekly, Chow is an "associate" of Shrimp Boy.

Shrimp Boy, after completing an earlier jail term, rose to the top of a Chinatown fraternal organization called the Ghee Kung Tong group, which was attempting to manage a night market in San Francisco's Chinatown with city funding.

Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow
When city officials "balked at handing over the market to a shady character like [Shrimp Boy] Chow," says the Weekly, "Shrimp Boy had an associate who did take over the market — a Chinatown advocate and union organizer named Leon Chow."

According to the Weekly, "Chow secured a permit for the night market in 2010 on behalf of his union, Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West (why home healthcare workers were interested is still unclear, but the union accepted a $5,000 check from Pius Lee to do it)."

The article, entitled "Shrimp Boy Associate Is Helping Julie Christensen," continues:
[Leon Chow’s] tenure with the market was brief: the night market ran for a full season in 2010 but for only two Saturdays in 2011 before closing. Chow, too, would soon drop off the scene. He mounted a brief campaign for city supervisor in 2012, running against incumbent progressive John Avalos in the Excelsior District. That effort ended after it was revealed that Chow lived in Walnut Creek, not the Excelsior; having committed the same offense that landed disgraced former Supervisor Ed Jew in federal prison (lying about his residence on a voter registration form) it seemed Chow's political career was over.
(Fyi -- Leon Chow’s earlier brushes with the law are detailed in various posts.)

Last fall, SEIU-UHW's Leon Chow reappeared in Chinatown to work on behalf of a business-dominated association attempting to elect a business-friendly candidate, Julie Christensen, to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors.

San Francisco's progressives -- including most of its labor unions -- backed candidate Aaron Peskin, who won the November 2015 election.

The business-dominated association -- called the "San Francisco Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth" -- was founded by Regan after he parachuted into California in 2009. Regan teamed up with leaders of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce to create the Alliance, which has attempted to exert a rightward pull on the city's politics.
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

Regan -- who’s made his name as the Boss's best friend at the bargaining table -- has extended his alliance with corporate CEOs to the terrain of electoral politics by forming such political alliances. Regan's Alliance includes multiple business associations and other conservative elements of the labor movement, such as the Police Officers Association.

Last year, SEIU-UHW and Regan’s so-called "business-labor alliance" threw their full support behind AirBnB and real estate developers, who campaigned aggressively against a pair of affordable housing and anti-gentrification ballot measures that were championed by neighborhood groups, tenants and progressives.

Where's Leon now?

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Source: SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan is on His Way Out

At SEIU-UHW's Executive Board meeting last month, SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan announced he will not run for reelection when his three-year term ends next year, say sources.

Let Tasty be the first to wish Dave a hearty "GTFO." 

So, why is Regan leaving?

Some observers point to his repeated losses and failures, which have certainly taken their toll -- for example, his failed battle with SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, his deepening isolation inside SEIU, his mega-failures in California, etc. 

In the Golden State, Regan has single-handedly led SEIU-UHW through a period in which the union lost half of its membership, destroyed the pensions and workplace standards for tens of thousands of California hospital workers, and flushed an estimated $25-30 million of union members' dues money down the toilet in Regan's failed pursuit of a so-called partnership with the California Hospital Association.

Other sources offer a different explanation for his departure. They say Regan is jumping ship because he's concluded he can’t win reelection next year. Here's what these sources say.

During SEIU-UHW's officer elections in 2011 and 2014, Regan was able to corral little more than 7,000 votes from the union's 140,000 members.

In 2011, Sophia Sims -- a rank-and-file Kaiser worker with few resources -- came within several thousand votes of defeating Regan, who collected only 7,000 votes that year. Not an impressive showing when you consider that Regan massively outspent Sims and also used the union's entire institutional machinery to push his candidacy onto the membership.

The elections were also marred by allegations of vote-rigging by Regan, which were detailed in a complaint to the US Department of Labor and a February 2011 lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Dave's hand-picked successor? Chokri Bensaid
After the 2011 election, Regan looked for opportunities to knock Sims out of contention in future elections. 

In 2012, he accused her of "gross disloyalty or conduct unbecoming a member" and ordered her to be subjected to an SEIU-UHW show trial. In 2013, Regan's hand-picked kangaroo court found Sims "guilty" and banned her from competing in SEIU-UHW's elections for seven years.

In other words, Regan is vulnerable to internal challenges.

What's more, he’d face an even bigger challenge if he were to run in 2017. 

In the union's 2011 and 2014 elections, Regan relied heavily on SEIU-UHW's homecare workers as his main source of votes. Homecare workers are very isolated from one another (each worker is employed in a separate client's home) and are aggressively targeted for votes by Regan's staff, who serve up heavy doses of misinformation and threats to harvest their votes.

Last June, Mary Kay Henry and the SEIU International Executive Board stripped Regan of his electoral base when they transferred 60,000 SEIU-UHW homecare workers to Laphonza Butler’s SEIU Local 2015.

That means Regan, in 2017, would have to campaign among SEIU-UHW's remaining membership -- hospital workers -- where he faces outright hostility from thousands of workers. Why?

At Dignity Health, Regan gave away 15,000 workers' defined-benefit pension and accepted a wage freeze even though the company was pocketing giant profits… and then he lied to workers about the cuts.

At the Daughters of Charity Health System, Regan has twice used ramrod ratification votes to force massive benefit cuts down the throats of approximately 3,000 workers. In recent months, he agreed to strip hundreds of part-time workers of all their benefits.

So, just how vulnerable is Regan to defeat in the newly changed electoral landscape of SEIU-UHW's shrinking membership?

At Kaiser hospitals alone, Regan's critics turned out 13,000 votes for NUHW in the most recent NLRB decertification election -- nearly double the total number of votes that Regan received in SEIU-UHW's officer elections of 2011 and 2014.

With Diamond Dave headed for retirement next year, who will Regan annoint as his replacement? 

Not Stan Lyles, his current Vice President. 

According to Tasty's sources, Regan told attendees of last month’s Executive Board meeting he’s backing the union's Kaiser Division Director, Chokri Bensaid.  

Bensaid – who works alongside Kaiser’s fatcat executives to sell the "partnership" to workers -- has also built up some level of recognition among Kaiser workers, who’ll now become the largest bloc of voters in the union's officer elections.

As for Regan's departure… good riddance. And GTFO.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ballot Initiative Backlash: SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan Tried to Snatch Billions from California's Schoolchildren

In a fit of anger, Dave Regan recently sued the California Hospital Association and penned an angry attack against SEIU officials (entitled "The Shame of SEIU") after his erstwhile pals joined hands to introduce a statewide ballot initiative that competes head-to-head with Regan's own initiative.

Regan's initiative is designed to deposit billions of dollars a year into the hospital industry's pocket, a massive payoff he must deliver before industry bosses will allow SEIU-UHW to put tens of thousands of non-non-union hospital workers into cheap, pre-negotiated labor contracts that ban them from striking.

Why did SEIU officials team up with the CHA to undermine Regan's initiative?

It turns out that Regan's ballot initiative was horribly designed. According to one knowledgeable source, "It would have blown a multi-billion-dollar hole in the state budget" by re-directing billions of state tax revenues -- currently used to fund public schools -- into hospital bosses' pockets.

By cutting school funding, Regan also would have destabilized funding for other government services as budget-makers shift budget dollars to make up for lost revenues.

That's why the California Teachers Association teamed up with the SEIU California State Council, headed by Laphonza Butler, to introduce a competing ballot initiative ("School Funding and Budget Stability Act") to preserve funding for public schools.

SEIU represents approximately 95,000 California state employees through its Local 1000. Other locals, such as SEIU Local 99, SEIU Local 521 and SEIU Local 1021, represent tens of thousands of teacher assistants, cafeteria workers, and other public education workers. California's students have suffered devastating budget cuts during the Great Recession that forced massive teacher layoffs and skyrocketing classroom sizes.

So, umm,... who was the genius at SEIU-UHW who wrote a ballot initiative to strip money from schoolchildren and from SEIU's own public-sector members?

Dave Kieffer: ballot initiative genius
Sources say it was Dave Kieffer. 

Kieffer, who was involved in trying to cover up the Tyrone Freeman corruption scandal, was pushed out of his job at the SEIU California State Council in 2013 and now serves as "Director of Governmental Relations" at SEIU-UHW.

He was the architect of an earlier money-for-members scheme by which SEIU officials tried to trade billions in taxpayer-funded Medicaid dollars for tens of thousands of workers at nursing homes.

Way to go, Dave.

All of this helps explain why analysts are penning articles like this one, entitled "Shrinking Political World of UHW President Dave Regan," which begins:

We've been chronicling the ever-shrinking political world of union President Dave Regan, see here, here and here, for a while now, and recent news highlights his dwindling power.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dave Regan Pours Smoke and Mirrors onto Latest Ballot Initiative Threat

Here's the latest on Dave Regan’s "groundbreaking" partnership with the California Hospital Association (CHA), which continues to explode in "21st century" flames.

On November 20, Regan filed papers (for the third time) for a ballot initiative that he hopes will leverage him back into bed with CHA’s CEO Duane Dauner. It's called the "Hospital Executive Compensation Act of 2016."

CHA officials, however, aren't exactly worried about Regan's latest ballot-initiative threat, say Tasty's sources.


They don't believe Regan has enough money to carry out the threat. 

Regan will have to spend approximately $5 million to simply collect enough signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot. After that, he’ll have to spend millions more to actually win a victory at the ballot box.

Meanwhile, Regan is trying to qualify two other statewide initiatives for the same election, and is using $4 million from the sale of one of SEIU-UHW's offices to partially finance that effort.

On top of that, SEIU-UHW recently lost half of its members and announced a $34 million reduction in the union's annual budget.

And then there's the problem that Regan's ballot-initiative scheme violates California law.

So… given that hospital officials aren’t exactly quaking in their boots, Regan decided to give them an extra dose of "smoke and mirrors" by announcing he's depositing millions of dollars of SEIU-UHW members' dues money into a political fund to push his ballot initiative.

On December 16, SEIU-UHW issued a press release announcing "it has made an initial $3 million contribution to a political fund that will be used in the coming election year to support or oppose ballot initiatives..."

What, pray tell, is SEIU-UHW calling this new political fund aimed at implementing a secret deal that would impose a gag clause on tens of thousands of healthcare workers?

"Californians for Hospital Accountability and Quality Care."

Way to go, Dave!

If SEIU-UHW members -- whose maximum dues rate increased to $144 a month on January 1st -- are wondering where all of their dues dollars are going, they might wanna take a look at Dave's latest and greatest adventure in fantasy land.