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.