Monday, June 20, 2016

Arbitrator Imposes Injunction and Possible Fines against SEIU-UHW for Violating Its Secret Partnership Deal with California Hospital Association

Tasty obtained a complete copy of the 42-page decision recently issued by an arbitrator investigating SEIU-UHW’s violations of its secret “partnership” deal with the California Hospital Association (CHA). 

The arbitrator's decision, dated June 6, 2016, imposes an “injunction” and “a cease-and-desist order” on SEIU-UHW in order to force it to withdraw a statewide ballot initiative that violates the partnership agreement’s gag clause

The decision also empowers the arbitrator to impose possibly millions of dollars of future fines and penalties on SEIU-UHW if Dave Regan, the union's president, fails to withdraw the ballot initiative. 

SEIU-UHW threatened to put the Hospital Executive Compensation Act of 2016 on the November 2016 ballot unless hospital executives allowed SEIU-UHW to unionize up to 60,000 hospital workers without employer opposition. SEIU-UHW, in turn, agreed to force the workers into pre-negotiated labor contracts with cheap wages, substandard benefits, and a ban on strikes.

Here’s an excerpt from the arbitrator’s decision:  
“In light of all these circumstances, and for the reasons expressed above, I am compelled to conclude that a cease and desist order and an injunction is appropriate and that it should extend to UHW, its agents, employees and surrogates, including [Nathan] Selzer and [Ben] Tracey, and those acting in concert with them. I further agree that it is appropriate to issue an injunction in a partial final award and to retain jurisdiction for purposes of considering damages or other relief if the Initiative remains on the 2016 ballot.” (p. 41)

Nathan Selzer, who serves as SEIU-UHW’s Communications Director (2015 salary: $131,317) and Ben Tracey, the union’s Healthcare Outreach Director (2015 salary: $145,495), filed the statewide ballot initiative on behalf of SEIU-UHW.

In March of 2016, a California Superior Court judge ordered the arbitration process. 
SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan and CHA's Duane Dauner

In April and May of 2016, the arbitrator held seven days of hearings where more than a half dozen CHA officials testified, including CHA CEO Duane Dauner and Kaiser Permanente’s Greg Adams, who serves on the CHA's Board of Directors.

Only one SEIU-UHW official, Dave Kieffer, took the stand. Regan failed to testify.

What's the basis for the arbitrator's decision?

As part of SEIU-UHW's "partnership" agreement with the CHA, the union's president Dave Regan signed a gag clause that prohibits SEIU-UHW -- purportedly a union of healthcare workers -- from "pursuing, sponsoring or supporting” any legislation, ballot initiative, regulatory, or other efforts that are “adverse to the interests" of hospital corporations.

Here’s the arbitrator's order: 
Based on careful consideration of the evidence and the arguments of the Parties in their entirety, I issue the following Partial Final Award:
1. The Complaint is sustained.
2. UHW, including but not limited to its agents, employees and surrogates Selzer and Tracey, and those acting in concert with them, are prohibited from pursuing, sponsoring or supporting the 2016 Executive Compensation Initiative.
3. UHW, including but not limited to its agents, employees and surrogates Seltzer and Tracey, and those acting in concert with them, are directed to immediately withdraw the 2016 Executive Compensation Initiative pursuant to California Election Code Section 9604(B) and take any other action necessary to terminate their pursuit, sponsorship and support of that Initiative.
4. I will retain jurisdiction for the purpose of considering damages or other relief if the 2016 Executive Compensation Initiative appears on the November 2016 ballot. (p. 42)

SEIU-UHW must now withdraw the ballot initiatives before June 30, the final date on which state officials permit such measures to be withdrawn. 

Later this week (June 24), SEIU-UHW will go before a judge in Sacramento County Superior Court in a last-ditch attempt to overturn the arbitrator’s decision.

Stay tuned for more news and analysis.

Here’s a full copy of the arbitrator’s decision, entitled “Opinion and Award in Arbitration Proceedings before Arbitrator Richard L. Ahearn Pursuant to the Code of Conduct Agreement between California Hospital Association and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West.