Monday, July 23, 2018

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan: 'I can't get to the table with Kaiser'

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (“the Coalition”) doesn’t appear to be getting any closer to sitting down with Kaiser Permanente at the bargaining table.

Last week, the Coalition sent out an update to workers entitled, “Kaiser Permanente Continues Its Aggressive Behavior toward Coalition Unions.” Here’s how it begins:
Kaiser continues to demand a new Partnership Agreement and is requiring Coalition Unions to sign a new Partnership agreement as a condition of resuming negotiations of a new National Agreement… We have met three times with Kaiser leaders over the last few months to reach an agreement.  The Coalition has offered a counter proposal that was balanced—offering new rights and responsibilities within the Partnership for both our unions and Kaiser. We also have offered a ‘temporary cease fire’ that would get us back to the table for negotiations while addressing Kaiser’s concerns.  Both of these offers have been rejected by Kaiser.

The Coalition appears to be especially upset about Kaiser’s demand to insert a “Dave Regan rule” into a new partnership agreement. That’s the rule that would allow the Coalition unions to kick out one of its member unions for “egregious non-partnering behavior upon a vote of 70%” of the partnering unions.

Earlier this year, more than half of the partnership unions quit the Coalition after repeated problems with SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan and his attempt to snatch more and more decision-making power from the other unions. Under their partnership agreement, there was no way for the unions to kick Regan out, so they had to quit the Coalition and form an entirely new partnership group. That’s the problem that the “Dave Reagan rule” tries to solve.

In its recent message, the Coalition took some back-handed shots at the Alliance of Health Care Unions, which negotiated and signed a new “partnership agreement” with Kaiser in May and has been in bargaining since then for a new contract. (BTW, the Alliance’s agreement with Kaiser includes the so-called “Dave Regan rule.”)

Here’s what the Coalition says about the Alliance:
They have not reached an agreement as of July 11, 2018 and are not expected to resume negotiations until late August. As those negotiations have progressed, significant concerns have emerged that impact ALL union members at Kaiser. Specifically, Kaiser is demanding:
  • Higher co-pays on our medical benefits
  • “Market based” wages based on where people work
  • Eroding RN staffing ratios

Meanwhile, other unions are also beginning their negotiations with Kaiser. Just last week, several thousand members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) began bargaining with Kaiser over three contracts that expire later this fall.

So… when will the Coalition finally get to the bargaining table?

It may take a while. So far, the Coalition’s “Plan to Win” has been downright underwhelming.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan Drops Ballot Initiative in Arizona

Dave Regan has dropped his effort to place an initiative targeting the kidney dialysis industry on Arizona’s statewide ballot, according to a press outlet. (Howard Fischer, “Union Gives up on Dialysis Initiative,” The Daily Courier, July 4, 2018)

Here’s the background.

After Regan first filed an initiative against the kidney dialysis industry in California, he then filed copycat initiatives in both Arizona and Ohio in an apparent attempt to "up the ante" on industry leaders. Regan apparently hoped the pressure would prompt industry leaders to sign a special unionization deal with him in exchange for his commitment to withdraw the initiatives from the ballots, as he did in a secret deal with executives at the California Hospital Association (CHA).

The secret deal with the CHA, which later came to light through litigation, sold out the workers that Regan claimed to be advocating for – including banning them from striking and even criticizing their employers’ multi-million dollar salaries.

To date, Regan has spent upwards of $6 million of SEIU-UHW’s funds on his California kidney-dialysis initiative. Nonetheless, dialysis industry officials have failed to bite on Regan’s bait. So… Regan and SEIU-UHW are now heading towards a multi-million dollar election battle in November.

Regan has plowed millions of dollars of the union’s resources into his high-stakes (and high-cost) game of chicken with dialysis industry officials. Regan once touted his ballot initiative strategy as an “audacious new proposal to save the labor movement,” even though it has drained tens of millions of dollars from SEIU-UHW’s coffers without leading to the unionization of a single healthcare worker.

Here are some excerpts from the article about Regan’s initiative in Arizona:
A California union has given up on its plan to ask Arizona voters to impose new service and cost restrictions on companies that perform dialysis.
Sean Wherley, spokesman for Service Employees International Union, said on Monday his organization has decided to focus its efforts elsewhere.
Wherley conceded the measure was aimed specifically at two firms: Fresenius Kidney Care and DaVita Kidney care. He said the two control more than 80 percent of the licensed dialysis centers in the state. Potentially more significant, Wherley acknowledged that both operate here without SEIU employees.
This isn’t the first time SEIU had started petition drives in its fights with employers.
Two years ago it crafted an initiative drive to cap the pay of hospital executives at no more than what the president of the United States is paid, or $450,000 a year. But after gathering what it said was more than 281,000 signatures — far more than needed — the union decided to scrap the effort in the face of challenges to the validity of many of those signatures.
But Wherley sidestepped questions Monday about whether the SEIU was simply using the Arizona initiative process for political purposes in the union’s ongoing battles with hospitals and health care employers.
“There’s only so many states that have ballot initiatives,’’ he said.
“So we look at them, where does SEIU have a presence, where can health care workers be benefited, where can patients be benefited,’’ Wherley said. “That’s kind of the calculus that decides where we introduce an initiative and where we submit signatures to qualify.’’
In the end, Wherley said, the union decided to not even try to collect signatures on the Arizona proposal.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Former SEIU-UHW Staffer Names Dave Regan in Lawsuit over Sexual Harassment, Discrimination

A former SEIU-UHW staffer has filed a civil lawsuit against SEIU-UHW alleging discrimination, battery, harassment, defamation, and gender violence. The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court in May 2018, names both the union and Marcus Hatcher, a former top union official, as defendants.

Among other allegations, the lawsuit claims that SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan and other top officials made inappropriate comments about women staffers’ looks, their bodies, and their availability/interest in relationships and also engaged in “offensive touching,"

Readers may remember Hatcher.

Last November, he was fired from his job after reportedly having romantic affairs with multiple members of the union’s Executive Board. At the time, he was the Director of SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division and a member of the union’s Executive Board and Executive Committee

During the same week, a second SEIU-UHW staffer, Mindy Sturge, also lost her job. Sturge had worked at the union for ten years, was a “Coordinator 3,” and was supervised by Hatcher, according to the lawsuit.

Sturge, who filed the lawsuit, alleges that SEIU-UHW and its top managers violated California law by “fostering a discriminatory workplace” that subjected women staffers and union members to sexual harassment.

Here’s an excerpt from the lawsuit:
“SEIU-UHW fostered a discriminatory workplace… Specifically, Sturge, other women employees, and union members were the subject of inappropriate remarks that address their looks, their bodies, and their availability/interest in relationships. Sturge was also subject to offensive touching, and she and others were discussed in inappropriate texts and comments heard by or related to Sturge. This conduct was engaged in by senior SEIU-UHW managers and directors, including but expressly not limited to Hatcher and [Dave] Regan. This conduct, which was unwelcome, regular, and pervasive, continued throughout Sturge’s employment and was personally experienced or witnessed by Sturge and directly affected her work environment. Sturge (and others) reported some of this inappropriate conduct to SEIU-UHW management when it occurred, but SEIU-UHW took no action to prevent or address this conduct until after Sturge was assaulted by Hatcher in September 2017.”

Why might SEIU-UHW have failed to hold staffers accountable for sexual misconduct?
Dave in his office
The lawsuit seems to offer an answer. Under SEIU-UHW’s policies, all harassment complaints are delivered to Regan.

What about the allegation of battery?

According to the lawsuit, Sturge was allegedly battered by Hatcher during a work meeting on September 28, 2017. “As a direct and proximate result of Hatcher’s actions,” says the lawsuit, “Sturge suffered a head injury and bruising for which she sought medical attention.”
“Sturge was subjected to a hostile work environment created by Hatcher’s inappropriate behavior toward women, as well as other inappropriate behavior by co-workers, including other managers with whom Sturge worked. This behavior included unwanted flirting, pressure to engage in personal relationships, and remarks that were demeaning toward Sturge and other women…
“Despite her reports of this behavior (and other reports of prior unethical behavior by Hatcher and other SEIU-UHW employees), SEIU-UHW took no action to discipline Hatcher or others who created a hostile work environment, nor did SEIU-UHW undertake an investigation of Hatcher’s behavior until Sturge had been assaulted by him. SEIU-UHW had a pattern of accepting such behavior and even went so far as to hire male staff members who had previously been fired from other unions for assaulting and/or harassing women, all of which SEIU-UHW knew or should have known at the time of hiring. One such member was hired to work directly with Sturge and engaged in unwanted and inappropriate behavior with Sturge and women co-workers.”

After Hatcher’s firing, Regan and other SEIU-UHW officials reportedly held a meeting of top union staffers and members of the Executive Committee to discuss sexual misconduct and “the overall culture” inside SEIU-UHW.

The lawsuit alleges that Regan verbally abused and then shunned Sturge following such a meeting. The lawsuit alleges:
“Most recently, Regan verbally abused Sturge in front of co-workers (including other managers) after Sturge expressed concern about Regan’s comments during a meeting that addressed inappropriate workplace conduct. Regan also shunned Sturge after she reported Hatcher’s assault.”

At some point after this incident, Sturge was fired.

Next, Sturge claims, both Hatcher and SEIU-UHW made false and defamatory statements “that impugned her integrity and her morals.” She alleges that Hatcher mounted a campaign of false statements -- some posted on Facebook -- attacking Sturge by saying, for example, she had lied about the assault by Hatcher.

Sturge also alleges SEIU-UHW lied to other staff by saying she’d violated the union’s non-fraternization policy by “engaging in a relationship with another union manager.” According to the lawsuit, “The unprivileged statements made about Sturge were false and defamatory, and were made without any reasonable belief in their truth.”

After she was fired, Sturge filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which issued a right-to-sue letter in April 2018.

Here’s a copy of the lawsuit.