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.