Thursday, March 29, 2018

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan Drives Split Even Wider with Kaiser Unions

Here’s more news about Monday’s implosion of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (CKPU).

What did Dave Regan do to cause eight international unions -- including the Teamsters, the Steelworkers, UFCW, AFSCME and the American Federation of Teachers -- to quit the Coalition?

Here’s how the Northwest Labor Press describes it:

At a meeting of CKPU unions in August 2017 in Portland, SEIU-UHW pushed for a change to the CKPU’s bylaws to give more decision-making weight to unions based on their size. CKPU’s decision-making process had always before been based on consensus among its constituent unions—even though they varied in size from dozens to tens of thousands of members. CKPU had negotiated five national collective bargaining agreements with Kaiser using that process.
Though the discussion reportedly devolved into a shouting match at times, participating unions agreed to a compromise that gave somewhat greater weight to larger unions.
Then, according to several sources, SEIU-UHW asked Kaiser to bargain with them as the sole representative of the Coalition. Kaiser refused.
…The final straw was a March 19 meeting of the coalition unions, at which SEIU UHW brought up the decision-making process again, threatening to block agreement if it wasn’t revised further.

(Don McIntosh, “Kaiser Permanente union coalition splits,” Northwest Labor Press, March 27, 2018)

How are the unions responding to Monday’s blow-up?

Regan appears to be channeling Donald Trump. Rather than trying to leave open a path for possible reconciliation, he’s been busy thumbing his nose at his former union partners inside the Coalition.
"Frankly they are much smaller,” Regan told Bloomberg News. “They will have their work cut out for them. I think what they’re going to discover is that they made a mistake. They will regret what they’ve done.”

In internal talking points, SEIU-UHW instructed its organizers to talk to rank-and-file Kaiser workers about “Why the small unions left the coalition.” SEIU-UHW is telling its members that “a cluster of small unions... left the Coalition because they wanted the right to cut a weak deal with Kaiser over the objections of the majority… The majority of us in the Coalition said NO WAY.  So the small unions left the Coalition to go it their own way.”
A member of SEIU-UHW's bargaining team

Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW posted photos of its Kaiser bargaining team members holding signs that say: “We are the Real Coalition.”

Will Regan soon begin calling his former union partners “Little Marco” or “the Fake Coalition”? Too soon to say.

Of course, Regan's claim that he is somehow valiantly defending workers against backroom deals is a bit difficult to swallow. After all, Diamond Dave is the unrivaled king of secret sellout deals with pin-striped bosses. 

Just ask Regan's own Executive Board about his secret deal with the California Hospital Association. Dave's deal imposed a massive gag clause on workers, barred workers from striking, forced workers into pre-negotiated contracts with stripped-down wages and benefits, and even blocked workers from speaking publicly about hospital companies' profits and executive salaries. 

After signing the deal, Regan famously refused to show a copy to the members of his own union's Executive Board. A copy of the deal, with Regan's signature at the bottom, later emerged in a lawsuit with all of Regan's dirty deeds on full display.

How are others responding to the breakup of Kaiser's partnership unions?

Today, NUHW circulated an e-mail to its members recalling Regan’s lengthy history of cutting backroom deals with employers. Here’s an excerpt:
NUHW never joined the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions because we understood from the start that Dave Regan was intent on controlling the coalition to promote the interests of SEIU-UHW leaders rather than the interests of Kaiser workers and patients.
Unfortunately, current SEIU leaders are not interested in winning good contracts. Their primary goal is to increase their membership and their dues income. To achieve that goal, they have been willing to sacrifice the welfare of their own members in exchange for agreements with employers that give them enhanced organizing rights. Ever since Regan took over SEIU-UHW in 2009, he has allowed the standards we fought hard to win to be steadily whittled away and agreed to takeaways that NUHW has refused to accept in our contracts.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan Sparks Split between Partnership Unions Just Hours before Kaiser Permanente’s National Bargaining Set to Begin

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

Last night, eight of the 11 international unions in the labor-management partnership announced they’re leaving the “Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions” (CKPU) and will not take part in National Bargaining, which was scheduled to begin this morning in Oakland, Calif. 

Instead, the unions plan to form a new coalition to work in partnership with Kaiser.

What’s causing the split?

It's Dave Regan, say the unions’ leaders.

In an e-mail sent last night to their members, Denise Duncan and Bill Rouse (the President and Executive Director of AFSCME’s United Nurses Associations of California) explain it this way:
Why are we departing CKPU and forming a new Coalition?
…To ensure our members’ interests do not get derailed by a local union in California, SEIU-UHW, whose leadership has continuously demonstrated its desire is to take control of the Coalition. We will not cede control to SEIU-UHW… we cannot be derailed by the leader of a single local.

In a separate document, the unions give more details about their problems with Regan… including his efforts to “control” the CKPU, his “subverting” of agreements between the partnership unions, and Regan’s “deceptive tactics.”

Just how angry are the departing unions at SEIU-UHW
“Our alliance of like-minded unions will no longer be held captive by SEIU-UHW.”

Here’s an excerpt (full document below):
Over the past 30 months, we have worked diligently to try to keep the CKPU together and strong heading into 2018 national bargaining. Regrettably, SEIU-UHW’s attempts to control the Coalition have made this impossible. Almost immediately after signing the Portland Agreement in August of 2017, SEIU-UHW subverted this agreement, which outlined a framework for how the unions would work together in national bargaining. Subsequently, UHW filed, then withdrew, a ballot initiative aimed at crippling Kaiser Permanente, and signed a Code of Conduct along with other partner unions with KP, which we hoped would resolve our differences so that we could enter national bargaining as a unified coalition. However, on Monday, March 19, 2018, at a labor caucus, UHW once again engaged in deceptive tactics designed to assert UHW leadership’s control over the Coalition, making it clear to us that this behavior will never stop. Ceding control of the Coalition to UHW is not an option and so, instead, we are exercising our right to leave the CKPU.
Our alliance of like-minded unions will no longer be held captive by SEIU-UHW. The behavior of SEIU-UHW continually fractured our unity and our ability to focus on bargaining. This is why we believe we serve you, our members, best by taking strong action.

Which unions are leaving the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions?
22 local unions that represent more than 45,000 Kaiser workers:  UNAC/UHCP and HGEA (AFSCME); UFCW Locals 1167, 135, 1428, 1442, 324, 770, 555, 7, 1996, 27, 400, and 21; USW Local 7600; IBT Local 166; KPNAA; IUOE Local 501 and Local 1; OFNHP (AFT Local 5017); and ILWU Local 28.

So which unions remain in the Coalition?
Three international union’s (SEIU, OPEIU and the IFPTE) with approximately 76,000 Kaiser workers, most of whom are members of SEIU-UHW.

What are Kaiser execs saying?

Last night, Dennis Dabney (Senior VP of Labor Relations) and Jim Pruitt (VP of Labor Relations for The Permanente Federation) circulated an e-mail with the following text:
We have been notified this evening by 21 of the unions which comprise a significant portion of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, that they have decided to leave the Coalition, effective immediately, and will not take part in National Bargaining. These unions state that the reason for their action is a conflict between various member unions of the existing Coalition.
We are considering what today’s development means. In the meantime, without the participation of all the unions in the Labor Management Partnership, the scheduled kick-off meetings this week cannot proceed.
We will engage with the various unions’ leadership over the next several days to ensure we understand the implications of this announcement. We will keep all parties informed as we decide the appropriate next steps. 

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 23, 2018

President of SEIU Local Union: “Whoops!”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage

Here’s the latest chapter in a story Tasty covered in an earlier post.

Remember when an SEIU union in Maine voluntarily agreed to eliminate “agency fees” requirements from its labor contract during negotiations with right-wing Gov. Paul LePage?

This provision required state employees who chose not to join the union to instead pay a fee to help cover the costs of the union’s collective bargaining and representation services that benefit them. These cost-sharing fees are called “agency fees.”

What did SEIU Local 1989 (aka Maine State Employees Union) get in exchange for giving up the “agency fees” requirement?

Two annual pay increases of only 3% per year for its members (roughly 9,000 state workers).

What’s happened since then?

Four months after inking this horrible deal, the president of SEIU Local 1989 told the Portland Press Herald that “it is losing 'hundreds of thousands of dollars' under the new provision.” (Betty Adams, “Public-sector union sheds jobs after contract drops mandatory dues,” Portland Press Herald, January 9, 2018.)

Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Ramona Welton, president of the MSEA, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, as well as a unit member, did not have the exact amount of the drop in income but estimated it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“It’s a big number,” she said Tuesday, adding that the loss directly affects the local unit itself and indirectly affects its affiliate organizations.

How much financial support does the union stand to lose?

In 2016, more than a quarter of Local 1989’s possible members opted to be agency fee-payers, according to figures from the US Department of Labor.

Due to Local 1989's bad deal, these 2,500 workers and others can now stop making any financial contributions whatsoever to the union... even though the union and all of its stewards are still required to represent them and bargain for them.

This is the scheme that right-wing governors and Republican-appointed judges are trying to impose on workers across the nation. Their goal is to weaken unions so they can drive down workers’ wages, benefits, and working conditions... and boost corporate profits.

Who would have thought that an SEIU union would help them with their plan?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Big Tech’s Purple Cheerleaders

SEIU’s Andy Stern and David “Mini Me” Rolf are facing more criticism for partnering with Uber executives.

Jay Youngdahl -- a civil rights attorney and journalist -- says Rolf and Stern have become “cheerleaders” and “circus barkers” for Uber and other tech firms pushing poverty jobs on millions of US workers. 

The companies, says Youngdahl, use “an 18th-century business model dressed up for the 21st century.” (Jay Youngdahl, “Poverty's 'Progressive' Cheerleaders,” East Bay Express, March 14, 2018.)

Even as Rolf and Stern appear to be hypnotized by the glare of their iPhones and the tech companies’ vast wealth, Youngdahl reminds us of the story of drivers like Douglas Schifter.

Last month, Schifter -- who worked for 30 years as a livery driver in New York -- shot himself to death in front of New York City Hall to protest the economic ruin brought on by Uber, Lyft and other companies. According to the New York Times, Schifter…
was now sometimes forced to work more than 100 hours a week to survive… He had lost his health insurance and accrued credit card debt… preferring, he said, to die in hope that his sacrifice would draw attention to what drivers, too often unable to feed their families now, were enduring.

(Ginia Bellafante, “A Driver’s Suicide Reveals the Dark Side of the Gig Economy,” New York Times, February 6, 2018.)

Here’s a recent segment from Democracy Now about Schifter and the impact of Uber and Lyft on drivers.

Youngdahl writes:
[H]onest analyses show that profits for gig economy companies come from not paying for employee health care, pension, and paid leave, as well as foregoing outlay for governmental safety net benefits such as social security, workers' compensation, and unemployment insurance.
To protect their cash flow and flawed business model, these new economy capitalists have assembled a group of "progressive" circus barkers to shape public opinion so the companies can continue, as one driver leader recently wrote, an 18th-century business model dressed up for the 21st century.
Schifter's post on Facebook at the end of his life
Led by former Obama and Clinton strategists, think tanks desperate for operating revenue, foundation-financed nonprofits, and a few past and present Service Employee International Union officials with wealthy benefactors, these companies have constructed a marketing campaign that puts Mad Men to shame. The cast of characters, preaching a rosy "Future of Work," appear in media outlets throughout the land. They have been described as a progressive "Brain Trust," by New Yorker writer Nathan Heller.
Apparently terrified of worker power and solidarity, they oppose traditional unionization and extol company-controlled worker organizations. They promise pie-in-the-sky future benefits and "freedom" and "flexibility." But they're unwilling to face what life is like today for these workers. The "freedom" they're extolling is, as Janis Joplin sang, "just another word for nothin' left to lose."

At least one official inside SEIU is critical of Rolf’s and Stern’s handiwork in support of Uber, the $48 billion startup. In additional comments, Hector Figueroa, the President of SEIU 32BJ in New York, told BuzzFeed:
This isn't just a matter of Washington state. Washington is opening the door for something we believe is harmful for workers. So we’re going to oppose it, even though a sister union is actively involved.

(Caroline O'Donovan, “Uber’s Latest Concession to Drivers Could Spell Trouble for Gig Workers,” BuzzFeed News, January 26, 2018.)

One day after Rolf recently co-signed a letter with Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and a venture capitalist, Figueroa posted a statement on his union’s website that says in part:
“We… we don’t support the plans being pushed by Uber and other companies to classify workers as independent just to avoid the responsibilities that employers have to their employees under labor law. All workers, whether they are considered employees or self-employed, should have meaningful health and retirement benefits, paid leave and sick days and enough income to support themselves and their families. They should also have the right to bargain collectively with their employers... We are deeply suspect of Uber’s intentions given their track record of misclassifying, underpaying, harassing and exploiting workers and opposing worker organization and we will judge them and others by their actions, not their words.”

Figueroa and Rolf both serve on SEIU’s International Executive Board.

Friday, March 9, 2018

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan Stashes $50M While Boosting Dues on Workers

Should Dave Regan quit his job at SEIU-UHW and apply for work at Citibank?

It sure seems like it’d be a better fit.

Regan -- instead of helping workers build power at their worksites -- has stockpiled more than $50 million in cash, poured $20-$30 million into ballot initiatives, and paid sky-high salaries to himself and other union staffers.

Workers at one California hospital recently got a reminder of Regan’s “innovative” vision for the labor movement. 

Regan sent a letter to their homes (see below) detailing SEIU-UHW’s maximum dues rate:  $164 a month!

Does Regan really need more money?

At the end of 2016, SEIU-UHW had stockpiled $52.4 million in cash, according to SEIU-UHW’s annual report to the US Department Labor (DOL Form LM-2). 

And that’s after SEIU-UHW spent $20-$30 million on a boodle of failed ballot initiatives.

Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW members frequently complain they can’t find union staffers to deal with basic on-the-job problems.

Looks like Dave is more interested in “cash bundle” than “class struggle.”

Here’s a copy of SEIU-UHW’s letter, which describes the union’s $164 per month maximum dues rate in the second paragraph.

Friday, March 2, 2018

33,000 Teachers and School Staff Wage Wildcat Strike in W.Va.: “We're not gonna take it anymore!”

In case you’re not following it, check out the inspiring wildcat strike by 33,000 teachers and support staff in West Virginia. It’s one of the biggest strikes in the US in recent years.

The strike -- which began with walkouts in seven counties -- soon covered all of the state’s 55 counties. And it’s now in its seventh day.

Earlier this week, educators refused to go back to work after union leaders reached a “deal” with Gov. James Justice to boost their pay and establish a “task force” to look into their health insurance.

Even though union leaders told them to go back to work, teachers said “No way” …and remain on strike. They’ll go back to work once their health insurance is fixed, say teachers. For years, state officials have been piling more and more costs -- and an intrusive wellness program -- onto their backs.

Check out this interesting interview with a rank-and-file leader who describes how teachers are organizing themselves in each school and county. And how they won support from students, parents and communities across the state.

(Eric Blanc, “The Strike Is On: And Interview with Jay O’Neal,” Jacobin Magazine, Marsh 1, 2018.)
Gov. James Justice
Their strike has featured a rally of 10,000 people in front of the state capitol, takeovers of the state capitol, rallies across the state, and lots of public support for the strikers.

After Governor Justice called the teachers “Dumb bunnies,” educators began sporting bunny ears.

“We come from an area that is known for standing up for what they believe in,” said Katie Endicott, a high school English teacher from Gilbert, WV, in an interview with the New York Times. “The union wars, they originated in the south in Mingo County. We believe we are following in their footsteps. We believe the movement was started years ago through the mine workers. We’re just reviving the movement that was started years ago.

Here’s an article in Jacobin Magazine that gives more background. (Cathy Kunkel, “Saving West Virginia,” Jacobin Magazine, February 27, 2018.) 

And here's a quick video from inside the state capitol: "We'nore not gonna take it anymore!"