Friday, May 26, 2017

San Diego Workers Vote to Decertify SEIU

Last week, 386 municipal workers in the City of Chula Vista (the 2nd largest city in the San Diego metropolitan area) voted by more than a two-to-one margin to leave SEIU Local 221 and instead join an independent union.

The final tally on the vote, which was conducted by California’s Public Employment Relations Board, was:
Association of Chula Vista Employees (ACE):  163
SEIU Local 221:  81
No Union:  4

Why did workers vote to decertify SEIU?

An article in a local newspaper (The Star News, “Muni union members consider a break,” April 1, 2017) offers some insight:
Esteban Barajas, a Chula Vista public works employee and a full dues paying member with SEIU, said he wants to see his union break away from SEIU because he said they do not properly represent Chula Vista Employees when they are needed, and are only around every three years during contract negotiations and he said SEIU does not give CVEA a fair share of money.  He said SEIU receives about $250,000 annually as part of CVEA’s union dues.
“We’re supposed to be on the top of the food chain so why are they getting $250,000 and we are over here living off of top ramen soups?”

Workers at the City of Chula Vista are just the latest group to decertify SEIU Local 221. In recent years, at least eight other bargaining units have bolted Loco 221 including…

1) San Diego Community College District
2) City of San Marcos
3) City of La Mesa
4) San Diego County’s Probation Officers Unit
5) San Diego County’s Crafts Unit

Friday, May 19, 2017

SEIU Is Sued over Nevada Trusteeship

A supporter of SEIU Nevada’s former president has filed a lawsuit challenging SEIU International’s recent trusteeship of the local union, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Union member suing to restore local control of SEIU Nevada chapter,” May 16. 2017).

On Tuesday, Cherie Mancini (the union’s former president) appeared alongside ten supporters in a District courtroom seeking a court order to return control of the union to its recently disbanded executive board, according to the newspaper. 

The lawsuit is now headed to federal court.

Last month, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry removed Mancini and Sharon Kisling (SEIU Nevada’s former executive vice president) from their positions and then had two of her lieutenants conduct a nighttime meeting with SEIU Nevada’s remaining executive board members, who reportedly voted to ask Henry to place the union under an “emergency trusteeship.”

The lawyer suing SEIU International told the Review-Journal that the trusteeship is invalid because SEIU Nevada’s executive board members were led to believe they had no choice but vote for trusteeship.

The Review-Journal quotes Mancini as saying the following:
"There was a manufactured emergency by the removal of myself and the vice president at the same time. I think that the membership needs to determine whether there needs to be a trusteeship or not.”

The newspaper also reports that following the trusteeship, SEIU officials “fired the local’s chief financial officer Robert Clarke, communications director Dana Gentry and [Peter] Nguyen, the director of organizing and representation.”

Stay tuned.

Friday, May 12, 2017

How Many SEIU-UHW Senior Staffers Can Dance on the Head of Dave Regan’s Pin?

Tasty got ahold of an interesting document that offers more details about the sky-high salaries Dave Regan pays himself and his buddies inside SEIU-UHW.

According to the document (a 2017 pay scale for SEIU-UHW’s “Senior Staff”), the union has installed no fewer than eight separate layers of highly paid “senior staffers” with titles like “Senior Management-Level V,” “Chief of Staff,” and “President.”

Their annual salaries range from $120,000 to $227,000. A copy is below.

So much for “Fight for $15.” 

Apparently, SEIU-UHW managers favor the motto: “Sitting for $75.”

Just in case SEIU-UHW wasn’t already larded up with beaucoup overpaid bureaucrats, in 2017 Regan decided to add two more layers of phat managers atop the teetering, top-heavy union: Senior Management-Levels III and IV.

SEIU-UHW’s salaries are stunningly high:  Regan earns more than the Presidents of at least two international unions, the United Auto Workers and the United Steelworkers.

So… it’s obvious why Regan pays himself so much money. But why is he lavishing six-figure salaries on senior staffers?

A source explains it this way: “It costs a lot of money to buy people’s loyalty.”

If staffers don’t like the union’s leader or his vision, then how do you keep them on the job? You bribe them by paying sky-high salaries. Golden handcuffs, as they say.

Other unions have a radically different vision that's more democratic and egalitarian. For example, at NUHW, the union’s constitution prohibits the president from earning more than the highest-paid rank-and-file member.

Regan’s salary structure recalls recent critiques of SEIU’s brand of “neoliberal unionism.” Last September, the authors of one piece in Jacobin Magazine called on the labor movement to confront SEIU:
The proliferation of this model of unionism would spell disaster for the American labor movement. Our movement’s success depends on how widely and how militantly we can organize workers to fight corporate power and the 1 percent, not embrace them. 
Union members and leaders must do everything in their power to halt the march of neoliberal unionism, before they march the labor movement straight into its grave.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Trusteeships Strain Purple Palace

Last week was a busy one for the Purple Palace.

On Wednesday, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry removed the top two officials at 9,000-member SEIU Nevada.

On Thursday, in Detroit, SEIU officials conducted a daylong trusteeship hearing to put SEIU Healthcare Michigan under a permanent trusteeship. In February, Henry removed the local union’s president, Marge Faville Robinson.

And on Friday, Henry imposed a trusteeship on SEIU Nevada.

Thursday’s hearing in Detroit was conducted by LaPhonza Butler, who served as the “Hearing Officer.” Butler is the President of California’s SEIU Local 2015, a longtime ally of Henry, and a nemesis of SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan.

According to a memo issued by SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Gerry Hudson on April 13, 2017 (see copy below), SEIU officials have now “substantiated” the “allegations of serious financial malpractice” at SEIU Healthcare Michigan.

Hudson’s memo reports:
Specifically, a review of the Local Union’s books and records uncovered evidence that Healthcare Michigan’s loan and paid time off/earned vacation payout policies had been abused, placing Healthcare Michigan members’ rights, benefits and interests at risk.

What actually happened?

SEIU officials are mum on the details. One possibility: local union officials artificially boosted their vacation balances, and then cashed them out. The removal of Marge Faville Robinson is an obvious clue.

Henry’s multiple trusteeships appear to be leaving her a bit shorthanded at the Palace.

In February, Henry appointed Inga Skippings (her “Chief of Staff”) as a trustee in Michigan, and more recently sent Deedee Fitzpatrick (her “Deputy Chief of Staff”) to Nevada to deal with SEIU’s imploding local union in Sin City.
Kirk Adams
Of course, Purple Palace officials -- including Tom DeBruin, Kirk Adams, Stephen Lerner and Bill Ragen -- know tons about “imploding” local unions.

Henry has not yet posted a job opening for a new “aide de camp” or Chief of Staff. But SEIU has posted one for “Director of Organizational Leadership.” The job description includes “work[ing] with officers, senior staff and local union leaders to develop innovative and impactful organizational leadership strategies…”

Hmmmm. Innovative? Impactful? How about just trying to develop a “functional” leadership strategy? 

That would be a big improvement.

Monday, May 1, 2017

SEIU's Mary Kay Henry Imposes "Emergency Trusteeship" on SEIU Nevada

Here’s the latest.

Last Friday (April 28), SEIU President Mary Kay Henry implemented an “emergency trusteeship” on 9,000-member SEIU Nevada, according to an announcement on the union’s website and a formal order pasted below. The action removes the local union’s Executive Board and suspends its constitution.

Friday’s action came two days after Henry removed SEIU Nevada’s President Cherie Mancini and Executive Vice President Sharon Kisling and asked the local union’s Executive Board to meet hours later with two of her representatives, Neal Bisno and Deedee Fitzpatrick

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, here’s what happened during that private meeting on Wednesday night (Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Nevada SEIU asks parent union to take control of operations,” April 27, 2017):

SEIU Local 1107’s executive board voted Wednesday night to request an emergency trusteeship be imposed, SEIU International spokeswoman Janet Veum said. A source with direct knowledge of the vote said it was 17-to-7, with five executive board members abstaining…
Typically, the international union would conduct a hearing and have a vote of its international executive board before imposing trusteeship, Veum said. But because SEIU 1107 made an emergency request, international president Mary Kay Henry could expedite the process by imposing the trusteeship before the hearing is held.

Who’s running SEIU Nevada now?

Henry appointed Lisa Blue and Martin Manteca to serve as “Trustee” and “Deputy Trustee,” respectively. Blue was the “Chief Elected Officer” (CEO) at SEIU Local 521 in California until May of 2016, when Henry appointed her as one of SEIU International’s seven Executive Vice Presidents. Manteca is the Director of External Organizing for SEIU Local 721 in Los Angeles.

Here’s Henry’s trusteeship order: