Tuesday, August 30, 2016

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan Pushes More Purple Lies on Dignity Healthcare Workers

Dave Regan: "I love the Boss and the Boss loves me"
Dignity Healthcare workers’ "bullshit meters" are jumping off the charts in the wake of SEIU-UHW officials’ recent announcement that they “won” a great new labor contract at Dignity.

Here’s what’s happening:

Dignity Healthcare employs approximately 14,000 SEIU-UHW members across California. It’s the union’s second-largest employer after Kaiser Permanente.

Soon after SEIU’s trusteeship in 2009, trustee Dave Regan began negotiating massive benefit cuts and pay freezes for Dignity workers.

In 2010, Regan and his lieutenant Hal Ruddick famously eliminated workers’ defined-benefit pension plan and then lied to workers about the cuts. The truth was later revealed when Dignity's quarterly financial statement detailed how the company pocketed a $217 million windfall due to SEIU-UHW’s cuts.

In 2012, Regan allowed Dignity to freeze SEIU-UHW members’ wages and implement more benefit cuts... even though the company was making massive profits.

Last year, SEIU-UHW officials accepted even more cuts -- this time to Dignity workers’ health benefits.

Then, at the beginning of 2016, SEIU-UHW returned to the bargaining table to negotiate pay increases for its members. Instead, Dignity demanded even more cuts from Regan!

“Why not?,” Dignity execs undoubtedly said to themselves. "Regan is the gift that keeps on giving."

This year’s negotiations, which were supposed to conclude by April, dragged on as Dignity execs demanded a growing list of concessions.

Here’s how SEIU-UHW recently described Dignity's proposed cuts to the press:
  • Wage freeze;
  • “Slashing” workers’ already-reduced retirement benefits by “up to 25%;”
  • Subcontracting SEIU-UHW members’ jobs

And here’s what one SEIU-UHW member at Dignity told the Long Beach Signal Tribune and the Long Beach Press-Telegraph earlier this month:
According to a media release from the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), Dignity Health has proposed to reduce retirement benefits up to 25 percent and desires to outsource jobs to companies that offer low wages…
[SEIU-UHW member] Jay Villarreal himself said that he was one of the protestors stationed outside the hospital with a bullhorn. The 53-year-old from the Long Beach area has already personally felt the sting of a wage freeze. Villarreal said he has not had a raise in four years.
“And the way the contract is being stated by Dignity Health, I won’t see one for an additional three years…enough is enough really,” Villarreal concluded with a snicker. “Seven years!”

So what did SEIU-UHW do in the face of Dignity’s demands?  Strike?

Hal Ruddick
Since Regan parachuted into California in 2009, SEIU-UHW has conducted virtually zero strikes.


In September of 2014, Regan famously told NBC news that strikes are “outdated.” Instead, he prefers a bold new strategy of “collaboration” with the Boss for “win-win” solutions. That’s the approach that Regan calls “21st Century unionism.”


Ya gotta wonder what Dignity workers feel about the last seven years of Regan’s “collaboration” with their multi-millionaire boss. Doesn't sound too "win-win" for workers, right? 

Two weeks ago, SEIU-UHW officials suddenly announced they’d finally “won” a wonderful new contract for Dignity workers without any strikes or fight. Here's how they announced it on SEIU-UHW's website:

August 16, 2016
Next, SEIU-UHW officials announced they refuse to provide a copy of their wonderful tentative agreement to Dignity workers in advance of workers’ ratification vote. SEIU-UHW will only provide a single copy inside the voting room on the day of the voting.

Must be a wonderful agreement, right?

SEIU-UHW’s triumphant pronouncement of “We won!” is like déjà vu all over again for Dignity workers.

Back in 2010, here’s what SEIU-UHW officials told the membership after they agreed to eliminate workers’ defined-benefit pension plan:


Friday, August 26, 2016

SEIU's Trusteeship of Local 73 in Chicago: "I view it as a hostile takeover.”

Trustee Eliseo Medina addresses Local 73 members
Here’s the latest on SEIU International’s trusteeship of SEIU Local 73, which represents 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and Northwestern Indiana.

Soon after the trusteeship was imposed earlier this month, Matthew Brandon -- who was removed from his position as Local 73’s Secretary-Treasurer -- accused SEIU officials of conducting a “hostile takeover” of Local 73. 

Brandon “threatened to file a federal discrimination lawsuit to reverse the international’s installation of emergency trustees,” according to an article in the Chicago Sun Times.

Brandon told the newspaper: “I don’t view this as a trusteeship. I view it as a hostile takeover.”

SEIU officials say they were forced to impose the trusteeship because of a dysfunctional relationship between Brandon and Local 73’s president, Christine Boardman.

However, Brandon told the Sun Times that a top SEIU official was the person who actually sparked the tensions between himself and Boardman by asking him to carry out a secret “stealth” campaign against Boardman.

In June of 2014, Brandon says a Vice President at SEIU International asked him to deal with a personal issue that was affecting Boardman’s job performance, according to the Sun Times. Here’s an excerpt from the Sun Times article:
“I proceeded in that process as stealthily as I could until Christine eventually found about it. That’s when our relationship was destroyed. She saw me as someone attacking her instead of trying to help her,” he said.
Then, Brandon added, the international “backed away from me and accused me of everything that was wrong in the local. These people don’t know what can of worms they’ve opened here. The members are absolutely furious.”
Brandon, who is black, charged that SEIU “discriminates against African-American males” and that he would “be able to prove that.”
Eliseo Medina, who was installed as the trustee of Local 73, issued an emailed statement that offered no direct response to Brandon’s explosive charges…
“As late as Monday, I sent an email to the international general counsel Judy Scott. I told her I was returning to work from an illegal suspension Christine [Boardman] imposed on July 5. Scott said I was insubordinate and not following her directions. Then, she started issues about what was happening the union,” said Brandon.

Nice quote from Judy Scott, right?  "Follow my orders, muthafuka!"

So who’s the SEIU International Vice President whom Brandon refers to? 

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t “name names.”

Any tipsters out there who can help?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Video of Protest against SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry at “Fight for $15” Convention

Here’s a one-minute video that captures the moment at last weekend’s national “Fight for $15” convention when organizers attempted to deliver a letter to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry to protest her refusal to allow them to join SEIU’s staff union.

The footage, recorded by C-SPAN, begins with Henry speaking from the stage at the Greater Richmond Convention Center… and then shows reportedly 100 “Fight for $15” organizers and supporters trying to make their way to the stage.

At first, Henry attempts to ignore the organizers and continues with her speech. The organizers, carrying signs that say “$15 Minimum Wage and Union Rights for All Means FF15 Organizers Too!,” are blocked on their way to the stage, a sign is ripped from their hands, and parts of the crowd chant “Fight for $15” in an effort to suppress the protesters.

According to a news article, security guards subsequently removed the "Fight for $15" organizers from the convention.

Since April, Henry has refused the organizers’ request to allow them to join a staff union, the “Union of Union Representatives” (UUR), which already represents SEIU’s organizers across the nation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry to Fight for $15 Staff: “No union for you!”

Remember those 100 “Fight for $15” organizers who requested to join the “Union of Union Representatives” (UUR), a staff union that already represents SEIU’s organizers across the nation?

Four months ago, they formally submitted their request to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

Since then, Henry has rejected their request despite announcing in May that SEIU will spend millions on a new “Fight for $15 Organizing Campaign Center.”

That set the scene for last weekend’s action in Richmond, Virginia, where nearly 100 “Fight for $15” organizers and supporters confronted SEIU President Mary Kay Henry during her speech to SEIU’s first national “Fight for $15” convention.

As Henry spoke to the crowd, the Fight for $15 organizers and their supporters began walking towards the stage to present her with a letter, according to an article published in in Raw Story:
[Jodi Lynn] Fennell [an organizer with the Child Care Fight for $15 campaign in Las Vegas] says, “Nearly 100 organizers and supporters gathered, moving up toward the stage peacefully. Our plan was simply to deliver a letter to Mary Kay Henry because she doesn’t make herself available to speak with us.”
…But they never got to hand the letter to Henry. Inside sources at SEIU say the union was prepared for such an incident, and sprang into action. Fennell says, “Security prevented us from getting to the stage.” Meanwhile, on the speakers’ platform, Henry stepped back and a group of African-Americans and Latino/as who sit on the national organizing committee for Fight for $15 stepped up.
One woman on stage with Henry grabbed the mic. She berated the staff organizers and their supporters below as cameras broadcast the convention…
As Henry stood smiling faintly behind the human wall, the speaker continued…
Barajas-Ames says the UUR organizers stood before Henry for 15 minutes. As the
Mary Kay Henry speaking at the Fight for $15 convention
speakers on stage led the crowd in chants of “$15 and a union,” Barajas-Ames says, “The security guards became hostile and aggressive, physically pushing us back. We stepped back and stood peacefully. Our signs were grabbed and torn up.”
…But that was just the beginning of the troubles for the members of the UUR organizing committee. Shortly afterward, Barajas-Ames and Fennell were personally called by the national director of the Child Care Fight for $15. The two organizers were told they would not be attending the events and protests on Saturday they had been organizing toward for months. Instead, they were to pack their bags as they were being flown out at 6 a.m. back to Las Vegas. Fennell claims the national director also told them, “We will be expecting you to pay for the cost of the hotel.”
… A total of five Fight for $15 organizers who support UUR were shipped home for trying to bring attention to their cause.
Fennell says, “This represents the exact same type of retaliation that corporations do to low-wage workers.”

So how does Mary Kay Henry justify her refusal to allow the organizers to unionize?

According to an article authored by David Moberg in In These Times:
At first, Calderon says, SEIU maintained their employer was the payroll processing firm that handles their paychecks. Now, he says, the international insists they’re employed by the individual organizing committees that direct each city’s Fight for $15 campaign.
According to Calderon, nearly 99 percent of funding for Fight for $15 organizers, as well as vehicles and supplies, comes from SEIU.

Raw Story reports that “Fight for $15” organizers in Las Vegas are paid by an SEIU subcontractor called the “Ardleigh Group.” It describes the company this way:
One former employee calls it a “faceless, shadowy” corporation that acts as a pass-through to hide employer responsibility. SEIU documents appear to show it using paper outfits to funnel money to the Ardleigh Group, which then pays workers on SEIU projects who say they are being denied their legal union rights.

"Fight for $15" organizers
The Ardleigh Group describes itself as a “political consulting and classic door-to-door campaigning” firm that’s been hired by a variety of candidates and organizations across the nation. Its name appears in SEIU's online job announcements for “Fight for $15” organizer positions.

Interestingly, some of these job announcements were posted by SEIU’s Recruitment Director Pamela Kieffer, the wife of SEIU-UHW’s Dave Kieffer.

Headquartered in Washington DC, the Ardleigh Group is headed by Bernard “Blair” Talmadge and Bryan L. Stewart

Talmadge, who grew up in Philadelphia, was an unsuccessful candidate for the Philadelphia City Commissioners in 2011. From 1997-2000, he served as a “Deputy Commissioner” to his brother, City Commissioner Alex Talmadge, Jr. 

According to Blair Talmadge, he has managed campaigns for multiple candidates for state and federal offices.

FYI, The London Guardian also covered last weekend’s action in Richmond (“Fight for $15 organizers demand employee status from SEIU,” August 12, 2016).

Thursday, August 11, 2016

NUHW Adds More than 1,000 Members

While SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan spends millions on his unsuccessful quest for a sweetheart organizing deal with the California Hospital Association, a very different story is taking place in the background.

According to NLRB records, NUHW is winning large numbers of new members through old-fashioned, bottom-up worker organizing.

In recent months, 1,070 non-union workers at three separate hospitals voted to join NUHW.

Interestingly, NUHW won the elections by giant margins… of as much as 90%. 

Two of the hospitals are operated by large, for-profit chains traded on the stock market. Fountain Valley Regional Medical Center is run by one of the nation’s largest hospital chains, Tenet Healthcare. It is Tenet’s second-largest facility in California.

Here are the results, as well as the percentage of voters who voted to join NUHW in each election:
  • Tenet’s Fountain Valley Regional Hospital & Medical Center: 560 workers. Vote Tally: 313 (NUHW) to 94 (No Union). 77% yes.
  • UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland: 374 workers. Vote Tally: 217 (NUHW) to 29 (No Union). 88% yes.
  • Kindred Hospital San Francisco Bay Area: 136 workers. Vote Tally: 74 (NUHW) to 8 (No Union). 90% yes.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

AFSCME Approves Resolution for Possible Merger with SEIU

SEIU's Mary Kay Henry and AFSCME's Lee Saunders
Delegates to AFSCME’s international convention in Las Vegas (July 18-22) approved a resolution to form “unity partnerships” with SEIU and to explore a full-blown merger with the purple union, according to a newsletter distributed to convention delegates. 

In May, delegates to SEIU’s international convention approved an identical resolution.

On July 20, delegates to AFSCME's convention followed suit by approving Resolution 53: “AFSCME and SEIU: Unstoppable Unions that Never Quit.” 

A full copy of the AFSCME resolution is available below.

The AFSCME resolution generated some controversy among convention delegates.

For example, AFSCME Local 2507 (New York) reports it was “not happy” with the language in line 63 of the resolution (on third page), which directs AFSCME to explore “an institutional merger” with SEIU. Local 2507 tried to remove this language at the committee level, “but did not have enough support to remove said language.”

The now-approved resolution paves the way for a full-blown merger while immediately calling for the establishment of “unity partnerships” between the two unions at local, state, and national levels to carry out joint planning, organizing, bargaining, and political work.

According to the resolution, the “unity partnerships” are supposed to carry out the following kinds of activities:
joint goal setting and planning; joint bargaining and representational activities where we have a common employer and coordinated bargaining where we represent workers in the same industry and labor market; joint setting of priorities and strategies where we deal with the same legislative and/or administrative bodies; joint political activity where we share an interest in electoral outcomes; and joint communication, legal, mobilization and research strategies and activities to support our work

A full-blown merger “must be recommended by both International Executive Boards and shall be submitted to a vote in accordance with each union’s constitution and bylaws” …although it’s unclear who would participate in such a vote.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Purple Palace Imposes Trusteeship on SEIU Local 73 in Chicago

Eliseo Medina, Trustee
Today, SEIU International imposed an “emergency trusteeship” on SEIU Local 73 “to protect the local’s members from serious collapse in the local’s leadership and governance,” according to an SEIU press release and the Chicago Tribune (“Infighting at SEIU Leads to ‘Collapse of Leadership,’ Removal of Top Officers”).

The local represents 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and Northwestern Indiana.

Here’s why SEIU says it seized control of the local:
Immediate action was required because incessant infighting between Local 73’s top elected officers, President Christine Boardman and Secretary-Treasurer Matthew Brandon, reached a boiling point and seriously disrupted the operations and functioning of the Local, putting members’ interests at risk…
Serious charges and accusations between the Local’s two top officers caused an egregious breakdown in governance. President Boardman and Secretary-Treasurer Brandon each challenge the basic legitimacy of the other’s authority to hold office or lead the Local, resulting in a debilitating dysfunction of the Local’s governance process as well as causing instability and confusion within the Local and its membership.
Circumstances deteriorated so badly that the Local was unable to conduct the July 15, 2016 Executive Board meeting to carry out union business or hold a basic membership meeting scheduled for the next day. The Local is mired in internal charges, contested suspension of its secretary-treasurer and allegations that the local president can no longer serve due to a previous announcement of retirement.
Christine Boardman, former president of SEIU Local 73

Boardman also serves on the SEIU International Executive Board in Washington DC.

According to the Cook County Record (“SEIU Chicago Leadership Deposed by National Union”), additional controversies also are at play. It reports:
[SEIU Local 73 President Christine] Boardman had been considered an ally of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, having publicly supported the city's attempts to rewrite public employee pension rules. Those rule changes were struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court as violations of the state constitution's pension protection clause.
The internal struggle has been played out in local courtrooms, as well, where Local 73 officials have each accused those on the other side of the struggle of defamation and leveling false accusations.
On July 1, Wayne Lindwall, assistant to the chief of staff of Local 73, sued Boardman in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging the Local 73 president had orchestrated a campaign to besmirch his name and reputation purportedly in response to his opposition to Boardman’s “proposed initiatives.” According to the lawsuit, Boardman then ordered union investigators to examine Lindwall’s private communications, without his consent, and shared them with other union members and officials.
Lindwall’s action came about five months after he had been sued by other Local 73 members and officials for allegedly maligning them in emails sent shortly after Boardman had temporarily removed him from his job last summer.
Boardman supported Rahm Emanuel in mayoral election
SEIU has been dismissed recently as a defendant in that action, but not before Lindwall opposed an attempt by Local 73 and the plaintiffs to settle the action, according to Lindwall’s attorney, Phil Turcy, of the Chicago firm of Turcy Chute.
While Turcy said the national union’s recent actions in Local 73 may impact the outcome of that case against Lindwall, they will not slow Lindwall’s lawsuit against Boardman. Turcy said other defendants from SEIU Local 73 may be added to the action in coming days, as well.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times (“Civil War Triggers Trustee Takeover at Emanuel-Allied Union”), the trusteeship represents “a bit of a blow to [Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel” because Local 73, which represents 14,000 City of Chicago employees, has backed Emanuel in recent elections.
Last year, SEIU Local 73 filed a “cease-and-desist” request asking that SEIU Health Care stop bankrolling the campaign of vanquished mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Local 73 was determined to enforce a “neutrality vote” that had been taken by the union’s state council.

Eliseo Medina, who served as a trustee of SEIU-UHW in 2009 alongside Dave Regan, has been appointed as Local 73’s trustee. 

Dian Palmer (President of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin) and Lenore Friedlander (from SEIU Local 32BJ in New York) have been appointed as “Deputy Trustees.”

Local 73’s officers and Executive Board have been removed from office. In 2015, SEIU Local 73 President Christine Boardman was paid $202,714 while Secretary-Treasurer Matthew Brandon received $147,450, according to records from the US Department of Labor.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan Attempts Dizzying Flip Flop That's Got Observers Scratching Their Heads

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan, still reeling from the collapse of his secret partnership with the California Hospital Association, is now attempting a flip-flop of dizzying dimensions.

Just months ago, Regan was working hand-in-hand with the California Hospital Association (CHA) to boost Medicaid reimbursement rates for hospitals across the state.

Regan bussed SEIU-UHW members to legislators’ offices to push for higher Medicaid payments (called “Medi-Cal” in California). 

Last summer, he teamed up with the CHA to hold a “Medi-Cal Matters” rally on the steps of the state capitol (see pic below).

And that was just the beginning.
SEIU-UHW's "Medi-Cal Champion" Sen. Ed Hernandez

SEIU-UHW launched a multi-million-dollar “Medi-Cal Matters” media campaign with TV and newspaper ads, billboards, and beaucoup bells and whistles. 

SEIU-UHW even handed out “Medi-Cal Champion” awards to legislators who pledged to support Medi-Cal payments, including Sen. Ed Hernandez (pictured at right).

Not anymore.

Last month -- just days after a Superior Court judge ordered Regan to withdraw his ballot initiative -- Regan angrily announced that SEIU-UHW was setting aside $8 million to fight a Medi-Cal funding initiative that just months ago, umm, Regan wholeheartedly supported.

Dave’s fantabulous flip flop has many people scratching their heads.

After all, why would a union of hospital workers try to jeopardize $3 billion of federal matching funds for California hospitals? Isn’t that money kinda helpful for funding SEIU-UHW members’ pay and benefits?

SEIU-UHW/CHA Medi-Cal Rally: 2015
Regan apparently thinks his campaign to defeat the November 2016 ballot measure -- the “California Medi-Cal Hospital Reimbursement Initiative” (Proposition 52) -- is a “genius” move that’ll really piss off his former pals at the CHA.

Others don’t seem to think so.

In fact, virtually every union in the state supports Prop. 52.

In recent days, Regan and his chief political hack, Dave Kieffer, suffered a big setback when they failed miserably to convince the California AFL-CIO (known as the “California Federation of Labor”) to oppose Proposition 52. 

Instead, the AFL-CIO endorsed Proposition 52.

What’s next?

Stay tuned to watch Regan steer SEIU-UHW down another dead-end alley with no-win solutions for his union's members. 

Dave Regan: "I supported Medi-Cal before I opposed it."