Friday, January 26, 2018

SEIU-UHW Revises its Ballot Initiative as Kaiser Permanente Fires Back

 Dave Regan and KP's VP of HR Chuck Columbus during friendlier times
Here’s the latest on Dave Regan’s ballot-initiative battle with his erstwhile pals at Kaiser Permanente.

It appears that Regan’s team bungled the writing of the ballot initiative. More than a month after SEIU-UHW filed its initiative with the California Attorney General’s office, Regan’s lawyers notified the Attorney General that, umm, they were changing the initiative’s language.

On December 22, Regan’s lawyers sent a letter (see below) with “amended text” that that includes a bunch of changes and brand-new language that boost the length of the proposed initiative by 50%.

On January 22, the Attorney General’s office issued “title and summary” to SEIU-UHW’s ballot initiative.

The following day, Kaiser attacked the initiative in materials posted on its website.

Kaiser’s materials hint at one of the many obstacles SEIU-UHW will face. 

If Regan is successful in winning a very expensive election campaign to convince California voters to approve the initiative, the initiative could block Kaiser from increasing its monthly insurance premiums – which means no new money for pay increases and pension contributions for Kaiser workers, including SEIU-UHW’s members. Here’s an excerpt from the materials that Kaiser posted earlier this week:
The official analysis by the California Department of Finance and Legislative Analyst Office… confirms the negative effects that the measure would have on Kaiser Permanente. If enacted into law, the measure could… decrease the funds needed to support employee benefits including pensions and post-retirement medical benefits…”

Now... many unions -- including the hotel workers -- have run successful boycott campaigns in which unionized workers threaten the revenue stream of their own companies. But this requires high levels of organization among workers so they’re willing to threaten the so-called hand that feeds them. Are SEIU-UHW’s members well organized?

Another obstacle: Can Regan convince California voters to approve the initiative even as Kaiser (and presumably other insurance companies) mount a well-funded campaign to oppose it?

Finally, here’s one more excerpt from the materials Kaiser published this week:

What Is Really Going On Here?
The backers of this initiative claim their measure is needed because too many health plans are stockpiling cash while continuing to raise rates. But this initiative is written to leave out almost every health plan in California. And the one hit hardest, Kaiser Permanente, is hurt because of its hospital system, not because it has too much cash.
The truth is that this initiative was sponsored by the leadership of SEIU-UHW as retaliation after Kaiser Permanente refused to agree to the union’s inappropriate demands involving an inter-union dispute. In late 2017, SEIU-UHW requested that Kaiser Permanente bargain with them as the sole representative of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (“the Coalition”). It would have been inappropriate — and a violation of our agreements with the Coalition — for Kaiser Permanente to negotiate with SEIU-UHW as the sole representative for the Coalition without explicit consent of the other nearly three dozen Coalition unions. When Kaiser Permanente refused SEIU-UHW’s request, SEIU-UHW filed this ballot initiative.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Insiders: SEIU Trustees Fire 10 Staffers Seeking to Run for Officer Positions at SEIU Local 73

At SEIU Local 73 in Illinois, two trustees appointed by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry have reportedly fired about ten members of the union’s staff after they announced plans to stand as candidates for the union’s executive board and top officer jobs as part of an opposition slate of candidates, according to insiders.

The firings by SEIU trustees Dian Palmer and Denise Poloyac come just weeks after more than a dozen members of SEIU Local 73 sued Mary Kay Henry in federal court in an attempt to force SEIU to end its trusteeship and to allow Local 73’s members to elect an executive board and officers to run the union of approximately 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and northwestern Indiana.

The fired staffers are part of a slate of candidates called “Members Leading Members,” which recently launched a website describing its candidates and platform. The website, which criticizes SEIU’s “disastrous trusteeship,” includes language like this:
instead of preparing the membership for self governance, like they promised, the Trustees are trying to extend the trusteeship or merge our local with [SEIU] Local 1 and/or HCII [SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana].  All of this in spite of the fact that Local 73 members have repeatedly demanded elections and have expressed their anger clearly in the past 4 membership meetings in 2017. It is unfortunate that the International Union and the Trustees are not listening. For these reasons, we have launched our slate and have sent a strong message to the International Union in a petition that this Union belongs to us. We demand an election right now.
…Join the "Members Leading Members Slate" in our fight to restore the power of our Local to those who make it great: our very own members, not individuals selected by the International (SEIU).  We deserve the right to chose who leads our Union, not be dictated to by the International.

On January 8, Palmer and Poloyac sent an e-mail to all Local 73 staffers announcing the immediate suspension of staff members for “launch[ing] an attack on the Union that is seriously divisive to our unity…” (See a copy of the e-mail below.) 

Subsequently, approximately 10 staff members were fired from their jobs, according to internal sources.

Among the fired staffers is Remzi Jaos, who says he plans to run for Local 73’s president. Until his firing, Jaos directed Local 73’s Higher Education Division and earlier was a staffer at SEIU Local 1 and the Illinois Nurses Association, according to his bio on the “Members Leading Members” website.

Other fired staffers reportedly include Willie English (running for Secretary-Treasurer), Brenda Woodall (running for Vice-President, and Rick Loza (also running for Vice-President).  

When will internal officer elections at Local 73 actually take place?

Not clear.

A lawsuit, filed by 13 rank-and-file members of Local 73 on December 14th, asked a federal judge to order elections sometime in February 2018. In court filings, however, SEIU’s attorneys denied multiple allegations in the lawsuit and asserted that the court has no jurisdiction over this issue.

Meanwhile, SEIU officials have scheduled a “Leadership Conference” for January 27 and a membership meeting for February 10.

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 12, 2018

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan Reacts to Kaiser's Ban from Bargaining

How’s SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan responding to Kaiser Permanente’s decision to block SEIU-UHW from participating in Kaiser’s upcoming national bargaining with its “partnership unions”?

Diamond Dave is not happy, to put it mildly.

One day after Kaiser issued a December 12th memo announcing its decision, Regan showed up outside Kaiser Oakland (Calif.) Medical Center to hand out leaflets to workers and passersby.

Looks like Kaiser struck a chord, right? 

It’s probably the first time in 20 years that Regan has actually leafleted workers.

As Regan posed for photos in front of the hospital, SEIU-UHW publicized his presence on its Twitter page. Here’s one tweet: “We are not going to let Kaiser shut down our voice by excluding us from collective bargaining.”

In a second tweet, Regan hints he may sue Kaiser to try to get a seat at the bargaining table. “We don’t think Kaiser’s attempt to exclude us from bargaining will stand, legally,” reads the following Tweet.

Of course, Regan’s track record in the courtroom doesn't offer much hope.

Meanwhile, lots of SEIU-UHW members are contacting Tasty to say they don’t understand what’s going on and to report they’re getting little information from their union.

Finally, while Regan hands out leaflets, the remaining “partnership” unions are preparing for upcoming national bargaining with Kaiser. Along with beaucoup “instant recesses,” the "partnership" unions will negotiate a “national agreement” covering 28 unions representing approximately 100,000 workers in multiple states. The current “national agreement” was negotiated in 2015 and expires on September 30, 2018.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Reporter: More Top SEIU Officials Are Likely to Fall Over Sexual Misconduct Charges

Will more “top SEIU officials” be fired for sexual misconduct?

On December 15, Mike Elk -- Senior Labor Reporter at Payday Report -- published the following interesting tip in the publication’s newsletter. 
Through interviews with over a dozen sources, Payday has learned that more top SEIU officials are expected to lose their jobs over sexual misconduct allegations.

Elk seems like a credible source on these matters. 

In November, he published a lengthy investigative piece about sexual misconduct by one SEIU staffer that led to the staffer’s firing.

Here’s a full copy of Elk’s tip.
More Top SEIU Officials Expected to Fall Over Sexual Misconduct Charges
Through interviews with over a dozen sources, Payday has learned that more top SEIU officials are expected to lose their jobs over sexual misconduct allegations. The quick firing of top 5 top SEIU officials has encouraged many to come forward with sexual misconduct allegations to see if the matters can be resolved in-house.
Payday continues to investigative sexual assault within the labor movement.
(See our in-depth investigation that got an SEIU manager fired and revealed how an employee accused of sexual assault at one local was able to get a job at another local).