Thursday, March 30, 2017

Report: Regan Spent Upwards of $1 million of SEIU-UHW Dues on Failed Lawsuits against Hospital Association

Since the collapse of his secretive partnership deal with the California Hospital Association, Dave Regan has spent upwards of $1 million of SEIU-UHW members’ dues money on law firms to represent him in a series of failed lawsuits, according to figures released this week by SEIU-UHW.

The revelations are contained in SEIU-UHW’s annual report to the US Department of Labor, which was signed by Regan on March 30, 2017.

In 2016 alone, Regan delivered $672,049 of SEIU-UHW’s funds to Prometheus Partners LLP, a San Francisco law firm representing him in various lawsuits against the California Hospital Association (CHA). Here’s an excerpt from SEIU-UHW’s Form LM-2 documenting these payments:

Prometheus Partners represents Regan in a lawsuit, “David Regan vs. Duane Dauner,” filed by Regan in February 2016. In January 2017, a judge effectively tossed out Regan’s lawsuit.

Soon thereafter, Regan paid the San Francisco law firm to sue the entire Sacramento County Superior Court. And Regan lost again.

Regan used a separate law firm -- Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld -- to file other lawsuits against the CHA, which were also unsuccessful. According to SEIU-UHW’s filing this week, the union paid more than $1.1 million to the Alameda, Calif. firm during 2016. In addition to representing Regan in those suits, the firm also performed other legal services for the union.

Altogether, Regan has spent upwards of $20 million of SEIU-UHW members’ union dues on his so-called CHA strategy, which hinged on negotiating a secret sweetheart deal with hospital CEOs.

Among other provisions, Regan’s deal was designed to force SEIU-UHW members into pre-negotiated labor contracts with stripped-down wages and benefits, to prohibit workers from striking, and to use a far-reaching gag clause to block them from reporting substandard staffing and other patient-care violations to government oversight agencies. In addition to legal fees, Regan spent millions to hire signature-gathering firms in an effort to qualify initiatives for the California ballot.

In addition to costing boatloads of workers’ money, Regan’s dueling lawsuits with the CHA famously landed him in criminal court after he reportedly broke the arm of a process server who was attempting to deliver legal documents to Regan’s Kensington, Calif. home on behalf of the California Hospital Association. It’s unclear whether Regan used the union’s funds to pay for legal representation in this personal criminal matter, which was referred to the District Attorney’s office.

How much of SEIU-UHW members’ dues payments will Regan flush down the toilet in 2017?

We’ll have to wait until next year’s report to answer that question.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dave Regan Wins Reelection with Votes from Just 3% of Union’s Members

Last week, Dave Regan was declared the winner of SEIU-UHW’s internal election after winning the votes of just 3% of SEIU-UHW’s members. 

Of the union’s 86,512 members, Regan received votes from 2,916 members while his two challengers together collected about 1,000 votes.

Here are the vote totals for the election, according to SEIU-UHW’s website:

Total eligible voters: 86,512
Dave Regan: 2,916 votes
Niko Anagnostopoulos: 511 votes
Cartina Price: 469 votes

Regan’s vote totals dropped from approximately 8,000 in 2014 to just 2,916 in 2017. At the same time, Regan’s challengers collected about the same numbers of votes in 2017 as they did in 2014 – approximately 1,000.

In the run-up to the election, Regan campaigned around California by attending monthly steward council meetings at multiple hospitals. Regan’s efforts may have been prompted by the support shown for one of his challengers, a rank-and-file Kaiser Permanente member named Niko Anagnostopoulos who won the unanimous backing of the steward council at his hospital, which is one of Kaiser’ largest.

During his speeches to steward council meetings at Kaiser hospitals, Regan reportedly said he wants to negotiate a 10-year labor contract with Kaiser during the partnership unions’ negotiations next year. In California’s hospital industry, union contracts are typically two to four years in duration.

Interestingly, at St. Francis Medical Center in Los Angeles, Regan’s slate of candidates (the so-called “Healthcare Justice” slate) lost elections for seats on SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board. Independent candidates beat Regan’s slate by more than a two-to-one margin. The 384-bed hospital is part of Verity Health System, formerly the Daughters of Charity Health System.

In 2015, Regan negotiated massive cuts for workers at St. Francis and other Verity hospitals, including freezing workers’ wage scales, eliminating benefits for many part-time workers, and multiple other cuts. Next, Regan used a system of ramrod membership votes to ratify his give-backs to the four-profit company. SEIU-UHW members called Regan’s contract “the worst contracting or history.”

Facebook post by one of Regan's challengers following the vote count.

What’s next?

It’s unclear whether Regan intends to serve out the full three years of his next term of office.

In December 2015, Regan told a meeting of the SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board he would not run for re-election, according to board members who attended the meeting. Regan said he was backing the director of SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division, Chokri Bensaid, to succeed him.

As the election approached, however, Regan suddenly declared his candidacy. 

Some observers speculate he ran for reelection because he was concerned that Bensaid could not win a contested election. According to these observers, it’s possible Regan will resign his position during his next term of office so that Bensaid can be appointed by the union’s Executive Board as his successor.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Will Trustees Shed Light on Andy Stern's "Golden Handshake" with Former SEIU Official in Michigan?

With SEIU Healthcare Michigan under an emergency trusteeship due to allegations of financial malpractice, Tasty took a look at the union’s recent financial disclosure reports and discovered some interesting details.

During recent years, the union has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Paul Policicchio, the union’s former president, even though Policicchio resigned his position more than 15 years ago.

According to the union’s annual reports to the US Department Labor (Form LM-2), SEIU Healthcare Michigan has been paying Policicchio $53,400 a year for many years. 

And the payments have continued through 2015, the most recent year for which records are available, even though Policicchio died in 2013.

What are the payments for?

In some years, the union says the payments were for “Consulting Services.” In other years, it describes them as “Retiree Supplement.”

In November of 2013, when Policicchio died at age 63 following a battle with cancer, SEIU Healthcare Michigan began making the $53,400-a-year payments to his wife, according to the records.

For what alleged purpose?

In 2015, SEIU Healthcare Michigan paid her $53,400 for serving as a “Retiree Consultant,” according to the records.

What’s going on?

Tasty’s sources believe these payments are part of a “buyout” engineered by SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern.
Andy Stern

In 1988, Policicchio became the president of Detroit-based SEIU Local 79, the predecessor union of SEIU Healthcare Michigan. He also was named an SEIU International Vice President in Washington, DC.

In 1996, Stern took office as SEIU’s president and reportedly wanted to move Policicchio out of SEIU so he could fill Policicchio’s position with one of Stern’s allies. So Stern allegedly engineered a “buyout” to coax Policicchio out the door. 

In 2001, Policicchio retired from SEIU at age 51 with an SEIU pension and Stern’s fat “golden handshake” in his pocket.

Sources believe Stern’s “buyout” likely included a “gag clause” that barred Policicchio from saying anything bad about Stern, SEIU or the buyout.

So just how big was Stern’s alleged “golden handshake?”

Hard to say.

But perhaps Mary Kay Henry and her trustees -- Tom Balanoff, Inga Skippings, and Ed Burke -- can take a look at SEIU Healthcare Michigan's books and shed some light on this six-figure, purple-hued mystery. Inquiring minds want to know. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Corruption Allegations Prompt Mary Kay Henry to Put SEIU Healthcare Michigan in Trusteeship

Notice of trusteeship posted on door of union's office
Last month, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry placed SEIU Healthcare Michigan under an “emergency trusteeship” amid allegations of financial malpractice, according to a statement from SEIU that’s posted on the local union’s website. A copy of the trusteeship order, signed by Henry, is available below.

Henry removed Marge Faville Robinson, the union’s president, who is also a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board.

Later this month, an SEIU-appointed “Hearing Officer” is scheduled to conduct a hearing where evidence will be presented about alleged corruption and improprieties.

Here’s how SEIU described the rationale behind the trusteeship in a post on SEIU Healthcare Michigan’s website. Apparently, an unknown whistleblower reported the alleged corruption. (“SEIU Healthcare Michigan Placed into Emergency Trusteeship”)
After someone with knowledge of the local reported potential financial malpractice at Healthcare Michigan, representatives of the International Union conducted a review of the local union’s books and records and found information indicating abuse of the local union’s loan and paid time off/earned vacation policy. Following this review, President Henry concluded that it was necessary to place the local into an emergency trusteeship to protect the interests of members and to allow for a full investigation to determine all the facts.

“An SEIU spokeswoman declined to comment on whether police were involved in the investigation,” according to an article published by MLive, an online news site operated by Booth Newspapers, which publishes eight newspapers in the state of Michigan. (Stephen Kloosterman, “'Financial malpractice' alleged at Michigan healthcare union,” MLive, February 22, 2017)

In comments to a Detroit TV station, Inga Skippings (Mary Kay Henry’s Chief of Staff) stated that President Marge Faville Robinson and Secretary-Treasurer Shalaya Bryant were removed from their positions while SEIU officials investigate.
"The union took steps to bring in trustees at the local and launch a pretty expansive investigation into what could have been going on here," Skippings said.
The union says a whistleblower came forward telling representatives to look at the books leading to claims of abuse of finances specifically in the union's loan and vacation policy.
"There was initial work done to suss out the credibility before we took the action we did," Skippings said.
The union won't give a dollar amount, but clearly it was enough evidence to warrant both Robinson and Bryant being removed from their position while the union looks at how long and how deep this potential fraud goes.

Henry appointed three SEIU officials to serve as trustees: Tom Balanoff (President of SEIU Local 1), Inga Skippings (Henry’s Chief of Staff) and Ed Burke (a consultant who formerly was an SEIU staff member).

Regular readers of this blog know that Faville Robinson is no stranger to controversy. In fact, allegations of nepotism and corruption have swirled about her like detritus in a toilet bowl.

For example, Faville Robinson collects an unusually fat salary from SEIU Healthcare Michigan despite the fact that the union’s membership has nose-dived from 57,239 members in 2009 to only 10,715 members in 2015. In 2015, the union paid Faville Robinson $209,889, according to the union’s annual report filed with the US Department of Labor.

The union also happens to employ Marge’s daughter and niece. In 2015, the union paid her daughter, Norma Kersting, $108,336 for being its “Director of Representation.” Meanwhile, Marge’s niece (Brenda Robinson) was paid $110,679 to be the union’s “Legal Director.” It used to employ her son, Josh, too.

In 2011, the union provided Marge with a union-paid Buick SUV. According to the union’s most recent annual report, it appears the union has continued to give her a swank car. Here’s what a note to the report states: “A vehicle provided to an Officer is used part of the time for personal transportation.”

Several years ago, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) -- an advocate of rank-and-file democracy and union transparency -- reported that SEIU Healthcare Michigan was renting a luxury apartment for Marge’s use when she traveled to Detroit.

In 2015, SEIU Healthcare Michigan received a flood of cash when it sold four buildings and properties for $2.3 million, according to reports filed with the Department of Labor.

Faville Robinson has served as the union’s president since 2008.
Andy Stern and Mary Kay Henry

In October 2008, SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern appointed her to the union’s presidency after her predecessor, Rickman Jackson, was removed from office when the Los Angeles Times revealed he’d stolen more than $33,000 from low-wage homecare workers as part of the Tyrone Freeman corruption scandal.

Stern appointed Jackson and Freeman to their positions atop SEIU locals, where they served as his loyal allies while stealing from SEIU’s members. Jackson, despite his corruption, continues on the payroll of SEIU International, where he collected $138,000 as a “Campaign Organizing Director” during 2015.

In addition to her roles at the local union and SEIU’s International Executive Board, Faville Robinson also served as the President of the “Cassie Stern Healthcare Workers Education and Training Center.” Rickman Jackson named the center for Andy Stern’s deceased daughter.

In 2010, the Cassie Stern Training Center was dissolved by state officials while Faville Robinson served as its president, according to IRS records.

SEIU Healthcare Michigan is the third SEIU local union to be placed in trusteeship or under "monitorship" in recent months. 

In August of 2016, SEIU imposed an emergency trusteeship on SEIU Local 73 in Chicago. In December of 2016, Mary Kay Henry remove the president of Los Angeles-based SEIU Local 99 and placed the union under the control of an SEIU-appointed monitor, Eliseo Medina. In October of 2016, SEIU's International Executive Board held two days of hearings in Las Vegas, Nevada to investigate charges filed against the top officials of SEIU Healthcare Nevada.

More news to follow.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Verity Health Workers: “Why did SEIU-UHW give away our health insurance, sick pay, and retirement benefits and freeze our pay scales?”

Nearly 2,000 workers at a chain of California hospitals are asking why SEIU-UHW officials agreed to freeze their pay scale and give away health insurance, vacation, sick pay, retirement benefits, and other benefits during contract negotiations with the company’s top executives.

Workers are angry, say Tasty’s sources, after NUHW recently negotiated a contract with the same company, Verity Health System, but didn’t accept any of the cuts negotiated by SEIU-UHW officials.

NUHW’s contract, ratified in December, covers workers at two of the company’s six hospitals. SEIU-UHW represents workers at the company’s remaining four hospitals.

Here’s what happened.

In November 2015, Dave Regan and other SEIU-UHW officials negotiated massive cuts for SEIU-UHW’s approximately 2,000 members at Verity Health System, formerly known as the Daughters of Charity Health System. SEIU-UHW represents workers at O’Connor Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital, St. Francis Medical Center, and St. Vincent Medical Center.

During negotiations, Regan agreed to freeze workers’ wage scales and to eliminate a whole range of benefits -- including health insurance, vacation pay, sick pay, and retirement benefits -- for hundreds of SEIU-UHW’s members who work part time at the hospitals.

As far as the benefit cuts, Regan agreed to change the contract’s so-called “benefit eligibility standard” so that part-time workers must now work at least 30 hours a week, instead of 20 hours a week, to be eligible for health insurance, sick pay, vacation pay, etc.

Regan also agreed to eliminate float differentials and short-call pay, cut Paid Time Off (PTO) accruals, eliminate “Jury Duty Leave” and “Education Leave,” eliminate future Extended Sick Leave accruals, as well as multiple other cuts. Regan also accepted the elimination of retiree health benefits for all employees at St. Louise Regional Hospital and O'Connor Hospital, according to a copy of the deal.

SEIU-UHW members called Regan’s contract “the worst contract in our history.”

To add insult to injury, Regan jammed the wage freeze and benefit cuts down workers’ throats by using ramrod ratification votes.
Dave Regan, SEIU-UHW
Two months later, approximately 650 workers at two Verity hospitals (Seton Medical Center and Seton Coastside Hospital) began their own negotiations with Verity officials after decertifying SEIU-UHW and voting to join NUHW.

With NUHW, workers successfully fought off all of management’s benefit cuts and won increases of 3% per year to workers’ wage scales during each year of the three-year contract. In addition, NUHW members won one-time “equity” pay increases of up to 12%.

Across California, Regan and SEIU-UHW have a well-documented history of cutting backroom deals with hospital CEOs to gut workers’ pay, benefits, and working conditions. Now, at the Verity hospitals, Regan’s dirty deeds have produced a lopsided outcome for employees who do the same work just miles apart. SEIU-UHW members, working 40 miles away from their NUHW counterparts, now receive vastly inferior benefits from the same company.  

Regan’s cuts offer another jarring contradiction.

SEIU officials have rightfully criticized Trump’s effort to cut health coverage under the Medicaid Program and the Affordable Care Act. So, ummm, why did one of SEIU’s top officials – Dave Regan – agree to eliminate health coverage for hundreds of SEIU’s own members without any kind of fight?

And while we’re on the topic of contradictions, why did Regan ink his sell-out deal with Verity, a company controlled by New York hedge fund BlueMountain Capital?

So much for SEIU’s fight against the 1% and the billionaire class, who are pocketing unprecedented profits while US workers struggle to pay rent and put food on the table.