Friday, April 28, 2017

SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry Moves to Put SEIU Nevada under Trusteeship

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry is placing yet another local union under trusteeship.

On April 26, 2017, Henry removed SEIU Nevada’s top two officers -- President Cherie Mancini and Executive Vice President Sharon Kisling -- from office, according to a two-page internal letter signed by Henry and an announcement on SEIU Nevada’s website.

Also on April 26, two SEIU officials (Neal Bisno and Deedee Fitzpatrick, Henry’s Deputy Chief of Staff) met privately with SEIU Nevada’s executive board at Henry’s request. The next day, April 27, SEIU Nevada’s website announced that its board had voted to place the local union under trusteeship. Here’s an excerpt:
Last night, our executive board met with representatives of SEIU to consider the future of the local…  After a thoughtful and extensive discussion, the executive board voted to ask SEIU to help return our local to those roots by taking Local 1107 into trusteeship.  The local’s request is now pending with International President Mary Kay Henry and we expect a decision soon.

Henry’s April 26 letter also announced the appointment of two of her representatives (Steve Ury and Kathy Eddy) to serve as “monitors” of SEIU Nevada.

On Wednesday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on the developments and posted a copy of Henry’s internal letter. (Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Top 2 elected officials removed from Nevada service union,” April 26, 2017)

In earlier posts, Tasty has chronicled the pathetic history of this affair, which has allowed one of the nation’s largest for-profit hospital companies to strip 1,000 nurses of union presentation.
SEIU Nevada is the fourth 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, Henry removed the president of Los Angeles-based SEIU Local 99 and placed the union under the control of an SEIU-appointed “monitor,” Eliseo Medina. On February 14, 2017, Henry placed SEIU Healthcare Michigan under an “emergency trusteeship” amid allegations of financial corruption.

More to follow.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dave Regan: "I want a higher salary than the presidents of the Steelworkers and UAW"

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan
Should SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan earn more than the international presidents of the United Auto Workers at the United Steel Workers?

Doesn’t make sense, right?

After all, Leo Gerard (USW) and Dennis Williams (UAW) lead international unions with four to six times as many members as Regan’s local union in California. In 2016, the UAW had 415,963 members while the USW had 548,033.

Nonetheless, that didn’t stop “Wall Street” Dave Regan from pocketing a higher salary in 2016, according to the unions’ DOL Forms LM-2.

In fact, SEIU-UHW’s second-highest paid official, Dave Kieffer, also earned more than the USW’s Gerard and the UAW’s Williams.

Here’s a rundown of their pay, according to Forms LM-2:
Dave Regan, SEIU-UHW President:  $224,706
Dave Kieffer, SEIU-UHW Director of Governmental Relations:  $210,909
Leo Gerard, International President of United Steelworkers:  $207,289
Dennis Williams, International President of United Auto Workers:  $184,159

SEIU-UHW's David Kieffer
A quick glance through SEIU-UHW’s recently filed disclosure report reveals that ten SEIU-UHW officials pocketed more than $150,000 during 2016. The list is below.

And take a look at their job descriptions.

Is it really necessary for one local union to have a Director of Governmental Relations, a Director of Public Affairs, a Director of Healthcare Policy and Advocacy, and a Political Director -- all earning more than $150K a year?
  • Dave Regan, President:  $224,706
  • Dave Kieffer, Director of Governmental Relations:  $210,909
  • Kathy Ochoa, Director of Healthcare Policy and Advocacy:  $179,572
  • Stan Lyles, Vice President:  $176,230
  • Steve Trossman, Director of Public Affairs:  $170,494
  • David Miller, Assistant to the President for Strategic Campaigns:   $168,974
  • Myriam Escamilla, Hospital Division Director:   $162,415
  • Greg Pullman, Chief of Staff:  $153,980
  • Chokri Bensaid, Kaiser Division Director:  $152,860
  • Cass Gualvez, Organizing Director:   $152,521
  • Arianna Jimenez, Political Director:   $152,227

Glad there are unions like NUHW, whose constitution speaks volumes about the union's democratic values by prohibiting the union's president from earning more than the highest-paid rank-and-file member.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

SEIU Nevada Performs Circus Act as Employers Feast at Banquet Table

In Nevada, SEIU’s f*ck-ups continue unabated, according to press reports and a recently released letter authored by one faction inside the 9,000-member local union. 

Meanwhile, some of the state’s largest employers are taking full advantage of SEIU’s dysfunction to deny workers pay increases and strip them of union representation.

Tasty earlier reported on the circus-like show gripping SEIU Nevada (also known as SEIU Local 1107), including dueling “internal charges” filed by the union’s President and Executive Vice President alleging violations of SEIU’s constitution and bylaws.

Last August, police were called to the union’s offices when the union’s Executive Vice President (Sharon Kisling) allegedly chased and threatened one of the union’s staff directors in what he called “a two-and-a-half-hour reign of terror at our office.”

In October, SEIU’s International Executive Board (IEB) held two days of hearings at the Circus Circus Casino to investigate the purple sh*t show. According to an April 12 article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the IEB has not issued any results from its hearing. (Michael Scott Davidson, “Impasse Latest Sign of Trouble for Clark County’s Largest Employee Union,” April 12, 2017).

So here’s the latest.

On March 31, 2017, eight officers of SEIU Nevada’s unit of 5,000 workers employed by Clark County sent a letter to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry “expressing our concern for our local and especially our members.” The letter concludes with this appeal:
This local is broken and needs you. Please, please, please do the right thing and hold President Mancini and this local responsible for taking care of our membership which is where the focus should always be.

The letter focuses on problems SEIU Nevada is facing in its contract negotiations with Clark County, which reportedly employs a majority of the local union’s members. Last week, negotiations reached impasse.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “If a deal is not struck by July 1, when the current contract expires, the county says it will halt scheduled wage and benefit increases for unionized employees until a new contract is agreed upon.”

Here’s an excerpt from the eight officers’ letter to Henry (full copy is below):
We feel the necessity to let you know that we do not believe that we will have a contract in place by July and we are very, very concerned that we are not being heard and this is even more obvious by President Mancini's actions. With only one (1) organizer working for the County membership, he is being setup for failure. One individual cannot reach 4,000+ members that reside in a County of over 8,000 square miles.
The leadership within the Clark County unit are informing you that we cannot continue in the same direction we are today. The negativity, in-fighting, retaliation, blatant disregard for fellow officers, etc. has got to stop. We have waited patiently since November 1, 2016 for the results of the hearings held on October 30 and 31, 2016 and we can't wait any longer. We need to know the results so they are not being held over our heads. There is no reason that we should feel that you, the SEIU International Officers, are ignoring our continued pleas for help.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry
Everyday that we draw closer to July 1, 2017, the closer we are to having a membership that is no longer willing to believe in SEIU. They will give themselves a raise by dropping the union that is no longer fulfilling their needs. We are barely over the 50% membership and we are willing to bet that if we drop below that mark, Clark County Management will be convinced to follow in the footsteps of the hospitals being represented by the same union that are currently under the microscope to prove their membership numbers to keep the status of the members union.

Last month, two Las Vegas hospitals unilaterally withdrew recognition of SEIU Nevada after alleging that a majority of the hospitals’ 1,000 Registered Nurses signed cards indicating they no longer wished to be represented by SEIU, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. (Michael Scott Davidson, “Second Las Vegas Hospital Severs Ties with Union,” March 13, 2017).

The two hospitals -- Desert Springs Hospital and Valley Hospital Medical Center -- are operated by Universal Health Services, Inc., a multi-billion dollar for-profit company headquartered in Pennsylvania.

The effort to remove SEIU was aided by the right-wing National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. SEIU has filed charges against the hospitals. According to the Review-Journal, SEIU's labor contracts for registered nurses at both hospitals expired in May of 2016 and successor contracts have not been negotiated since then.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Hospital Worker Takes Case to US Supreme Court after SEIU-UHW Officials Fail to Protect Pensions for 15,000 Workers at Dignity Health

A California hospital worker named Starla Rollins has taken a fight to protect 15,000 workers' pension benefits all the way to the US Supreme Court.

Last week, Rollins’ attorneys asked the Supreme Court to safeguard the retirement benefits of tens of thousands of workers at Dignity Health, a giant hospital company headquartered in San Francisco. 

Even though Dignity’s pension plan covers more than 15,000 SEIU-UHW members, SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan and other SEIU-UHW officials have refused to lift a finger to defend workers’ pensions.

Here’s what’s going on:

In 2009 and 2012, SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan and Hal Ruddick teamed up with Dignity executives to implement sharp cuts to the pension plan covering SEIU-UHW members at more than 30 hospitals across California.

Then, in 2013, Starla Rollins -- a 26-year Ward Clerk at Community Hospital of San Bernardino -- discovered that SEIU-UHW officials had allowed Dignity to underfund SEIU-UHW members’ pension plan by $1.2 billion. (Yes, that’s a “b” for “billion.”)

Because SEIU-UHW officials refused to do anything, Rollins decided to sue Dignity in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of herself and her co-workers. Her lawsuit -- “Starla Rollins v. Dignity Health”-- was filed in 2013. Tasty covered it in this earlier post.

Here’s the latest.

Last July, Rollins and her attorney won an important victory in federal court after doing battle with Dignity’s high-priced lawyers for three years. (See below the decision issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.) 

Dignity, rather than accepting defeat, appealed the court’s decision to the US Supreme Court.

Last week, lawyers for both sides argued their case in front of the Supreme Court.
Starla Rollins

The case centers on the following question: A federal law (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act) requires corporations to adequately fund their employees’ pensions so workers actually receive the pension payments they earned when they retire. 

Dignity acknowledges it has underfunded workers’ pension. But company executives claim they’re exempt from federal law because Dignity is a “religious organization” …even though Dignity has bought up many non-religious hospitals. It even changed its name from “Catholic Healthcare West” so it could re-brand itself as a non-religious company.

What happened during last week’s oral argument at the US Supreme Court?

According to a transcript (see copy below), Judge Sonia Sotomayor grilled a lawyer representing Dignity. Here’s an excerpt from her questioning:
[Dignity is] the fifth largest healthcare provider in the nation. They have 60,000 employees. Do you believe that Congress's vision was to let, what is essentially, a corporate entity opt out of protecting all of those employees?

Kick their asses!

So what happens next?

The Supreme Court justices will publish their decision sometime in June.

What about SEIU-UHW? It continues to do absolutely nothing to protect its members’ retirement benefits. Apparently, “Wall Street” Dave Regan is too busy polishing the CEO’s shoes.

So... huge props to Starla!

In fact, Rollins has been waging not one but two important legal battles against SEIU-UHW for its failure to support its members.

In the second case, Rollins won a giant victory last October when a federal court ordered officials from both SEIU-UHW and Dignity Health to stand trial for illegally laying her off from her 26-year job and then refusing to honor her union contract’s seniority agreement. Rollins was part of the union’s leadership team prior to SEIU’s 2009 trusteeship, when NUHW President Sal Rosselli led the union.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the Supreme Court’s June decision! Stay tuned.