Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Politico: SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan Spent $21.2 million on Ballot Initiatives

$21.2 million on ballot initiatives
SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan has spent $21.2 million on ballot initiatives since the 2012 election cycle, according to an article published this week in Politico. (Victoria Colliver, “California union leverages ballot initiatives for health care on its own terms,” Politico, February 5, 2018).

And, says Politico, he’s about to dip even deeper into the SEIU-UHW’s coffers.

This year, Regan has filed 10 initiatives for the November 2018 ballot -- “more referendums than in the past six years combined.” Yesterday, SEIU-UHW announced it’ll spend $3.5 million on advertising this year for just one of its 10 initiatives.

What does SEIU-UHW have to show for Regan’s multi-million dollar ballot-initiative bonanza?

Not much, says Politico.
Not a single one of its initiatives in recent years has taken effect. Of the seven statewide measures filed between 2012 and 2016, five were dropped before submitting signatures to qualify… [A sixth] was pulled before voting when an arbitrator ruled it violated an earlier agreement between SEIU-UHW and the hospitals.
 In a rare local victory, Santa Clara County voters in 2012 approved a salary cap at El Camino Hospital — but a judge later ruled the initiative process did not apply to health care districts.

If Regan is so fascinated with ballot initiatives, shouldn’t he be running a political consulting firm instead of a labor union?

After all, imagine if he’d spent those $21.2 million on worksite organizing, mounting aggressive contract fights to win better wages and workplace standards, training rank-and-file leaders, enforcing workers’ contracts…

So why is Regan pouring tens of millions of dollars of SEIU-UHW’s budget into ballot measures?

First, it keeps all of the power in his hands and those of his consultants and lawyers.

And it keeps the union’s members demobilized. No need to create strong shopfloor organization at Kaiser Permanente to fight concessionary bargaining when, according to Dave, you can simply file a ballot initiative. A demobilized membership means no threat to Dave's hold on power.

Thirdly, it lets Regan tell the membership he actually has some sort of plan to win. “Ballot initiatives – the new multi-million dollar miracle pill to solve all our problems!”

Of course, Regan’s ballot initiative strategy has another massive weakness. Laws can change. At some point soon, Tasty predicts the corporations will pass laws outlawing Regan’s use of California’s voter-initiated ballot measure system as a tool for exerting leverage on companies.

What’ll Dave do at that point?