Friday, February 16, 2018

Dave Regan's Chickens Come Home to Roost for 15,000 SEIU-UHW Members at Dignity Health

In another sign of trouble, SEIU-UHW is reportedly facing demands for takeaways from Dignity Health during contract negotiations that began last month. The current contract, which is set to expire April 30, covers 15,000 workers and is SEIU-UHW’s second largest contract after Kaiser Permanente.

According to SEIU-UHW, Dignity wants to eliminate SEIU-UHW members’ access to fully employer-paid family health insurance, which has been a standard benefit at unionized California hospitals since the 1970s. Instead, management wants SEIU-UHW members to pay $125 per month to get health insurance for a spouse, and $175 per month for a spouse and children. Only “employee-only” coverage would be free to workers.

The demands spell trouble for Dave Regan.

SEIU-UHW members are already reportedly facing takeaways from Kaiser, which is the union’s largest employer. According to Regan, Kaiser wants 10%-20% cuts to the wage scales for future hires in California’s Central Valley, stretching from Sacramento to Fresno. Kaiser says it hasn’t begun negotiations with SEIU-UHW and has not yet put any proposals on the table.

So... in 2018, Regan will be in defensive bargaining covering more than 70% of the union’s membership even though both Kaiser and Dignity are flush with profits.

What’s going on?

The two companies apparently see Regan as vulnerable.

And Regan is vulnerable. But he can only blame himself for SEIU-UHW’s current problems. Why?

Because he laid the groundwork for the cuts by negotiating similar benefit cuts and wage freezes with other hospital companies. “We want the same cuts you gave to the other companies,” the execs at Dignity and Kaiser seemed to be telling Regan.

Soon after parachuting into California in 2009, Regan quickly began slashing workers’ long-established contract standards. Alameda Hospital was the first hospital where Regan agreed to eliminate SEIU-UHW members’ fully employer-paid family health benefits. Instead of paying $0 for family health coverage, Regan required SEIU-UHW members to pay $170 per month to get coverage for their children. Once the ink was dry on Dave’s signature at the bottom of the contract, Alameda Hospital executive Kerry Easthope told the San Jose Mercury News that Regan’s cuts were “a groundbreaking concession.” (Michele Ellso, “Alameda Hospital employees to get pay raise,“ San Jose Mercury News, 04/30/2009)

Next, Regan negotiated similar cuts to health insurance with entire hospital chains like the Daughters of Charity Healthcare System. In 2012, Regan used ramrod ratification votes to force massive concessions down the throats of thousands of thousands of Daughters of Charity workers. Regan tossed their fully employer-paid family health coverage in the trash can. Instead, SEIU-UHW members were forced to pay 25% of the monthly health insurance premiums -- or hundreds of dollars a month.

Regan also eliminated workers’ defined-benefit pension plan (he replaced it with a 401k plan), implemented an invasive corporate wellness program, and allowed the company to double workers’ out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions, doctors visits and other healthcare procedures.

At Dignity, Regan agreed to eliminate workers’ defined-benefit pension plan and accepted wage freezes for 15,000 SEIU-UHW members... even though the company was making profits.

So… is it a shocker that Kaiser and Dignity are now coming to Regan for more cuts?