Friday, April 22, 2016

SEIU Caught While Attempting to Ink Sweetheart Deal with Airbnb

SEIU's Stern and Henry
This week, journalists outed top SEIU officials as they tried to seal a backroom deal with Airbnb, a $25.5 billion company headquartered in San Francisco, Calif. 

By week’s end, the deal had exploded in flames after facing an “intense backlash” from housing advocates, elected officials, and unions, according to the London Guardian.

The week’s events were accompanied by jaw-dropping revelations including that SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern is pulling down a fat paycheck as an Airbnb consultant. (Nice way to grease the wheels inside the Purple Palace, right?)

Meanwhile, it turns out that SEIU President Mary Kay Henry’s former speechwriter and Chief Communications Aide -- Christopher Nulty -- is now a corporate exec at Airbnb, where he played a role in the unsuccessful deal. This week, Nulty served as Airbnb’s main spokesperson regarding its negotiations with his former employer, SEIU.
Christopher Nulty of SEIU/Yahoo/Airbnb

(Who's Nulty? From 2010-2013, he worked inside the Purple Palace where he wrote hundreds of speeches and op-eds for Mary Kay Henry, according to his LinkedIn page. He left SEIU to work as the Senior Corporate Communications Manager for Yahoo’s CEO. Next, he jumped to Airbnb, where he serves as the Public Affairs Lead for the eastern half of North America.)

Here’s a quick sum-up of this week’s events:

On Monday, the London Guardian and the Washington Post broke the news that SEIU was trying to ink a secret deal with Airbnb. The news provoked an angry backlash from elected officials, housing organizations, and unions.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky: "I'm worth $3.3 billion."

As CNBC notes, critics say Airbnb “displaces long-term tenants as some people convert scarce rental property into essentially motels and hotels for travelers — all without paying local hotel taxes, or meeting regulations as required for the hospitality industry.” 

And as tenants are displaced and neighborhoods gentrified, Airbnb’s execs and its venture capital investors pocket billions.

Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s 34-year-old CEO, is worth $3.3 billion.

On Monday, UNITE HERE -- the union of hotel workers whose jobs are being undercut by Airbnb -- issued this statement to the press:
We are appalled by reports that SEIU is partnering with Airbnb, a company that has destroyed communities by driving up housing costs and killing good hotel jobs in urban markets across North America.
Airbnb has shown a blatant disregard for city and state laws, has refused to cooperate with government agencies, and turns a blind eye to the fact that its business model exacerbates the affordable housing crisis. A partnership with SEIU does little more than give political cover to Airbnb. It doesn’t strengthen workers, and in fact undercuts the standards we’ve fought so hard to build for housekeepers in the hospitality industry.

UNITE HERE is not SEIU’s only critic. According to the London Guardian:
The Manhattan borough president, Gale Brewer, 18 members of the New York state senate and assembly, three New York City council members and 20 local housing organizations sent a letter to the SEIU president expressing concern with the deal and requesting a meeting.
“We find it troubling that SEIU is exploring entering into an agreement with Airbnb – a company whose business model displaces the very people you are seeking to represent and protect from their homes and communities,” the letter states. “Such a partnership would lend credence to Airbnb’s illegal manipulation of the housing market, and give the worst actors … a legitimate platform to conduct their illegitimate and harmful business activities.”

Other critics took to Twitter, the media, and online petitions to attack SEIU. In a tweet, UNITE HERE called SEIU’s pact a “sweetheart deal.”

After SEIU 32BJ President Hector Figueroa tweeted support for SEIU’s backroom deal with Airbnb, UNITE HERE’s Hotel Trades Council responded with this tweet:

SEIU’s Andy Stern re-tweeted Figueroa’s message, which prompted the following hilarious tweet from the San Francisco Tenants Union: “Have you read a newspaper lately?”

SEIU’s action even spawned a hashtag (#DontSellOutSEIU), an online MoveOn petition, and a letter from the tenants' union to Mary Kay Henry and Figueroa with statements like this one (see complete letter below):
You cannot build a national movement to improve working conditions for low-wage workers by engaging in backroom deals with a law-flouting corporation and selling out your natural allies.

On Tuesday, SEIU and UNITE HERE met in Las Vegas “to resolve escalating tensions,” according to Politico. After the meeting, SEIU pulled the plug on its sweetheart deal with Airbnb.

UNITE HERE issued this statement:
Earlier this week, we had a productive meeting with SEIU representatives, and it is our clear understanding that SEIU will not have a deal with Airbnb to represent housekeeping services. We will continue to work with SEIU to ensure that workers across the hospitality industry have opportunities to have a voice at work and provide for their families. We are encouraged by their commitment to stand with us and coalition partners to advocate for affordable housing initiatives and better jobs in cities across North America. Unite Here will continue to vigorously oppose any efforts by Airbnb to expand and push for commonsense laws to mitigate the devastating impact this company has had on our communities.

Yesterday (April 21), SEIU issued a statement that read:
Tuesday, representatives from SEIU and Unite Here met and have agreed to find a common approach to protect and expand the stock of affordable housing in all communities across the country and to protect and preserve standards for workers in residential and hotel cleaning while also growing opportunities for these cleaners to improve their lives.

So what was Airbnb’s motive for cutting a deal with SEIU?

Just like Andy Stern’s embrace of Wal-Mart in 2007, an SEIU partnership with Airbnb would have helped Airbnb weather the political headwinds that are hindering its expansion across the nation. 

Here’s how the Washington Post describes it:
The deal would give San Francisco-based Airbnb, which has raised $2.3 billion and is privately valued at $25.5 billion by venture capitalists, new ammunition for its myriad political battles. In cities across the country, opponents of Airbnb have argued that the 8-year-old start-up is accelerating gentrification by reducing the supply of available housing units that would otherwise go to locals if they weren’t being rented out on Airbnb.
The agreement with SEIU allows the company to make the claim that it is creating good jobs for local residents. That’s one prong in a wider strategy to endear itself to local governments.
Earlier this year, the company’s policy chief, a former Bill Clinton aide named Chris Lehane, met with hundreds of mayors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors to make the argument that cities benefit from Airbnb homeowners’ tax contributions.

Finally, here’s a question that's still unanswered:

How much money is Andy Stern pocketing in exchange for pimping for Airbnb?

According to journalists, SEIU spokesperson Sahar Wali has declined to comment.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Mr. Regan kept hitting me in the head with his fist… I thought I was going to die," says Process Server

A chest bruise caused by Regan, according to restraining order
A source has provided Tasty with court filings that offer a stunning first-hand account of the attack by SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan on a process server who attempted to deliver legal documents from the California Hospital Association to Regan's home in Kensington, Calif.

The victim's one-page account is contained in a restraining order against Regan issued by Contra Costa County Superior Court on February 29, 2016. 

According to the victim's written description as well as photos of his bruised body, Regan's assault on the evening of February 1, 2016 was highly aggressive and brutal.

The victim's account is contained in Attachment 7a(3)of the Restraining Order. A full copy is below.

Note: Tasty has whited out the victim's first name, address, and contact information in order to protect his privacy. Tasty also whited out a portion of Regan's street address and license plate number for the same reasons. 

Here's the victim's description of what happened on the evening of February 1st at Regan's home:
On February 01, 2016 at approximately 4:00pm, I ______ Adams, Private Investigator for AMO Investigations began stationary surveillance at ___ Beloit Avenue, Kensington, Ca 94708. The reason for this surveillance was to serve legal papers to David Regan, the resident of the above listed address. Upon my arrival there was a green SUV with California license plate 6HIT___ parked in the driveway closest to the entry of the residence.
At approximately 6:32pm I saw a silver SUV drive into the driveway of ___ Beloit Ave. and park to the right of the green SUV. I exited my vehicle and approached the driveway. I started to approach the residence on the driver's side of the green SUV; however I saw a subject exit the driver's side of the silver SUV that matched the photograph that I had of David Regan and begin to walk to the rear of his SUV. I redirected my approach and met Mr. Regan at the rear of his SUV. I identifed myself and told him I was there to serve him some paperwork. Mr. Regan asked me what the paperwork was, I told him I didn't know. Mr. Regan told me he did not want the paperwork and walked away. Mr. Regan walked towards the passenger side of his SUV. I told Mr. Regan I would place the paper work on his car. I placed the paper work on the hood of Mr. Regans SUV and took video of the paper work on his SUV. I turned the video off and as I did I was pushed extremely hard from the left knocking me to the ground in front of the green SUV that was parked in the driveway. While I was on the ground I kept trying to get up; however Mr. Regan kept pushing me to the ground and hitting me in the head with his fist. I told Mr. Regan to stop, that I was leaving; however he continued to hit me and push me to the ground everytime I tried to get up. Fearing for my safety, I told Mr. Regan I was calling 911 with my cell phone. As I attempted to call 911 Mr. Regan kicked me on the right side of my chest knocking the wind out of me and causing an extreme amount of pain and making it very difficult to breath. As Mr. Regan continued to kick me in the chest I was able to use my right arm to block an additional kick. Mr. Regan kick me in the right arm with an extreme amount of force that made it very hard to use my right hand or arm. I though that he had broken my arm. I agin told Mr. Regan to stop and tried to call 911. I had my phone in my left hand trying to call 911 and Mr. Regan continued to kick me as he attempted to take my phone away from me. I was certain that if Mr. Regan was able to get my cell phone away from me he would have beaten me unconscious. At one point Mr. Regan was able to get his hand on my cell phone and attempt to pry it out of my hand. I rolled over, breaking his grip and placing my left hand under my body to prevent him from taking my cell phone.
At this point Mr. Regan left and I was able to get up and get to my vehicle where I called 911. The extreme amount of violence and force Mr. Regan used against me was so sever that I continue to have pain and nightmares. I've had to start counseling and I am not able to continue my job where I'm able to serve legal paper work. I thought I was going to die that

(Note: It appears that the statement's final words were inadvertently missed when the records were photocopied.)

Regan’s attack has already made headline CBS news in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to police officials, the District Attorney is currently reviewing the incident to determine whether it will file criminal charges against Regan.

What's next?
SEIU's Dave Regan
If even half of the details of the assault are true, it's hard to imagine how Regan can remain in office as a national Vice President of SEIU as well as the President of SEIU-UHW, a union of hospital workers.

Regan already has a record of spearheading a violent 2008 assault against union reformers at a national Labor Notes conference, which ended in the death of one SEIU member and injuries sustained by conference participants. He's also a defendant in an ongoing civil suit alleging his use of threats and violence against his union's own members and his critics. 

Will SEIU President Mary Kay Henry really tolerate such violence by one of its leaders... especially against a legal delivery person who could just as easily be a member of SEIU?

Friday, April 8, 2016

SEIU-UHW's Membership Plummets by 40%, While Profits Skyrocket

Last week, SEIU-UHW sent its annual "LM-2" report to the U.S. Department of Labor with details about its membership, finances, and staff salaries.

Here’s what jumps out from a quick read.

SEIU-UHW’s total membership plummeted sharply during 2015, with the union losing 52,000 members – or almost 40% of its membership. SEIU-UHW’s membership declined from 140,886 to 88,694 members by the end of 2015.

That's because last June, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and the SEIU International Executive Board ordered SEIU-UHW to transfer more than 50,000 long-term care members to Los Angeles-based SEIU Local 2015, headed by Henry's ally Laphonza Butler.

Despite this dramatic decline in membership, however, SEIU-UHW is rolling in the dough thanks to a dues increase that SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan pushed onto the union's members. The increase has left workers paying as much as $144 in union dues per month.

So how much money did SEIU-UHW make last year?

The union reported a profit of $16.6 million – which translates into a profit margin of more than 14%. To put that into perspective, it’s higher than Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola.

For-profit unionism? How "21st century," right?

What does SEIU-UHW do with the profits?

According to last week's filing, Regan is stockpiling massive amounts of cash in the union's bank account. SEIU-UHW's "cash" jumped from $34.8 million on January 1, 2015 to $51.4 million by the end of the year, according to financial disclosures. See an excerpt below from the union's 2015 LM-2 form.

SEIU-UHW's DOL Form LM-2 for 2015

Meanwhile, a number of SEIU-UHW officials are cashing in on the gravy train.

In 2015, Regan pocketed a $30,000 pay increase that boosted his annual pay by 14% to $243,734.

Regan's "Deputy Chief of Staff," Triana Silton, got a $30,000 pay increase that boosted her take-home pay to $132,052.

Other over-paid officials at SEIU-UHW include...

Dave Kieffer (Director of Government Relations): $204,345
Steve Trossman (Director of Public Affairs): $173,029
Myriam Escamilla (Hospital Division Director): $175,260
David Miller (Special Assistant to the President): $166,340

Why do SEIU-UHW's staff and officers earn so much? 

Unlike unions like the National Union of Healthcare Workers, SEIU-UHW doesn't have a constitution that blocks the union's president and staff from earning more than the union's members.

Stay tuned. More to follow.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Dave Regan Plays Hide n' Seek with California Hospital Association

Here's the latest in the legal battle between SEIU-UHW and the California Hospital Association (CHA)… which has now spread across three California courthouses and features SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan’s alleged arm-breaking assault against a process server.

In the latest development, Regan has instructed his high-priced attorneys to play a game of legal "hide n’ seek" with the CHA.

Here's what's happening.

In November, SEIU-UHW filed a lawsuit against CHA CEO Duane Dauner in Sacramento Superior Court. The suit angrily attacked Dauner (Dave’s former BFF) for ditching SEIU-UHW in order to team up with Laphonza Butler and the SEIU California State Council.

In response, the CHA filed a countersuit in the same courthouse. The CHA asked the judge to consolidate the two lawsuits into a single case so all of the interrelated issues could be handled together.

Days later, Regan mysteriously dropped his lawsuit… only to refile it a week later in Los Angeles County Superior Court, some 400 miles away.

Apparently, Regan realized his lawsuit would soon be tossed by the judge, so he launched a game of legal hide n’ seek that involves SEIU-UHW's $500-an-hour attorneys ducking and hiding behind the shrubs, fenceposts and garbage cans of the legal world.

In recent days, the CHA responded by asking a Los Angeles judge to send Regan’s lawsuit back to Sacramento.

Here are some excerpts from the CHA's March 25 request to the Los Angeles judge, with a full copy below.

Take note of how the CHA describes Regan's 21st century vision of labor relations in which SEIU pursues "cooperation," rather than "confrontation," with healthcare corporations because of workers' "aligned interests" with the millionaire bosses and shareholders who employ them.
Defendants [CHA] move to transfer venue to Sacramento County, which is undoubtedly the "proper county" for this case and was the county where these defendants were sued over the same set of facts only a few months ago….
As noted, this is not the first time Mr. Dauner has faced a meritless action seeking to remove him as director and Co-Chair of [Caring for Californians, a Labor Management Committee]… In November 2015, UHW filed an action in Sacramento County, purportedly on behalf of CFC, seeking the same relief sought here under a different statute. After CHA moved to intervene in that action, UHW voluntarily dismissed its complaint… A week later, Mr. Regan filed this action.
Mr. Regan's complaint is as clear an example of forum shopping as can be imagined. The Corporations Code, however, prohibits that conduct. The Court should transfer this action to Sacramento County…
In 2014, UHW, CHA, and a number of California hospitals and health systems entered into an agreement titled the "Code of Conduct" that sought to align the interests of employers and employees and "create a new model for labor relations that is based on cooperation rather than confrontation." The Code of Conduct mandated the creation of a joint advocacy committee to function as a Labor Management Cooperation Committee... which UHW and CHA would jointly controlled to advance their common interest.