Thursday, August 30, 2018

Ten Years Later...

This month marks the tenth anniversary of some of the headline-grabbing events that led up to SEIU's disastrous trusteeship of SEIU-UHW.

Ten years ago, SEIU-UHW -- then led by president Sal Rosselli -- was one of the most successful healthcare unions in the nation. Labor journalist Steve Early called SEIU’s takeover of SEIU-UHW “the mother of all trusteeships.” Unfortunately, it gave birth to a Frankenstein-like child headed by Dave Regan, who quickly drove the once-powerful union into the ground.

So what happened ten years ago?

During August 2008, a reporter named Paul Pringle published eight articles in the Los Angeles Times detailing a massive corruption scandal perpetrated by Tyrone Freeman, one of Andy Stern’s closest allies.

Freeman’s corruption was stunning. It ranged from union-funded jaunts to Hawaii with his personal assistant, $175 glasses of cognac and cigars at an exclusive cigar club frequented by Los Angeles movie stars, no-show jobs for relatives, and kickbacks from corporations in exchange for deals that sold out low-wage healthcare workers.

During the months leading up to August 2008, Freeman had served as Andy Stern’s attack dog in Stern’s campaign to “implode” SEIU-UHW. A boatload of Stern’s staffers also worked on the campaign, such as Stephen Lerner, Dave Regan, Bill Ragen, Tom DeBruin, Josie Mooney, Debbie Schneider, Steve Trossman and Denise Poloyac.
Andy Stern

Earlier in the summer of 2008, Freeman was riding high after Stern initiated a maneuver to transfer 65,000 union members out of Rosselli’s SEIU-UHW and put them in Freeman’s union… without a democratic vote by the workers. 

Following the transfer, Freeman would have led one of SEIU’s largest local unions… and he then would have delivered all of his union’s votes to Stern at SEIU’s conventions where Stern sought reelection as the international union’s president.

But in August 2008, the curtains were finally pulled back on Freeman’s years-long corruption scandal and he plummeted to earth like a flaming meteor.

Stern, angry at the loss of his loyal ally, announced on August 25, 2008 that SEIU was launching trusteeship hearings against Rosselli’s union. During the preceding years, SEIU-UHW’s members had caught Stern and his DC-based staffers making backroom deals with healthcare corporations that sold out workers and patients, and violated democratic principles.

In 2010, Stern resigned as the President of SEIU after launching yet another disastrous attack, this time against UNITE HERE. Freeman, in turn, ended up in federal prison. "May God have mercy on me," said Freeman at the time of his sentencing. "I am accountable for these bad decisions."

Meanwhile, Rosselli and his crew of rank-and-file leaders launched the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) as a militant, member-led, democratic alternative to SEIU.

Ten years later, this history stands sharper in our collective memory.

Here’s a link to the series of articles in the Los Angeles Times from August 2008.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Newspaper: Calif. Legislator Filed Complaint against Dave Regan over Barroom Clash

The largest newspaper in California’s capital city has published an article confirming Tasty’s report about a barroom confrontation involving SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan that reportedly injured California Assemblymember Richard Bloom.

Last night -- just ten hours after Tasty posted an account of the incident -- the Sacramento Bee published an article confirming the report and offering new details. (Alexei Koseff, “A union president shoved him at a Sacramento fundraiser, lawmaker reports,” Sacramento Bee, August 21, 2016)

Here are some excerpts:
A California lawmaker reported to the Legislature earlier this month that he was shoved by a health care union president at a downtown Sacramento restaurant.
The confrontation between Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, and Dave Regan, president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, occurred on Aug. 8 at Lucca Restaurant and Bar, where the two were attending separate events for the California Legislative Jewish Caucus and California Forward.
Bloom’s office declined to discuss the incident but confirmed that Bloom reported it to the Assembly Rules Committee.

According to the Bee, Regan began arguing with Andrew Crutchfield, director of the political advocacy group Govern for California, who was attending the event organized by the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.
A few people from both parties came over to break up the dispute. Bloom got between Regan and Crutchfield, Sen. Ben Allen said, and that’s when Regan pushed him out of the way…
“From the short period of time that I witnessed the altercation, Mr. Regan appeared belligerent,” Allen said.
[SEIU-UHW staffer Steve] Trossman said Regan “maybe had a glass of wine” that night. He was not kicked out of the restaurant, Trossman said...
“I really don’t think alcohol was a factor in this,” Trossman said. “Dave is very passionate about workers…”

Sen. Ben Allen is a Democrat from Santa Monica, Calif. and serves as the Chair of the Senate Education Committee.
Regan's barroom clash was the top item in CALmatters

So, why did Regan -- who reportedly has a history of engaging in alcohol-fueled fights -- get “belligerent” and require lawmakers from both houses of California’s legislature to stop him from getting into a fistfight inside a Sacramento restaurant and bar?

According to Trossman, Regan tried to fight Crutchfield because Crutchfield was “gloating” about the US Supreme Court’s anti-union Janus decision and was criticizing unions.

Now… even if Crutchfield is the biggest rightwing anti-union ideologue in the nation, is it smart or strategic for a union leader to try to punch him during the middle of two political events attended by dozens of California legislators?

In the Sacramento Bee, Trossman tries to argue that Regan was not at fault because he was “provoked” or manipulated by Crutchfield into trying to punch him.

Hmmm, that’s a great message. 

If it’s so damn easy to manipulate Regan into doing stupid sh*t, isn’t Trossman basically saying Dave is a dumbass?

After all, rank-and-file union leaders face provocations at their worksites all the time from aggressive supervisors, anti-union bosses, etc. They manage to keep their cool. Why can’t Dave?

Thirdly, if Dave is gonna do something stupid, he should at least try to hit the guy he’s arguing with… and not an innocent bystander who happens to be a state legislator.

At the end of today, it's obvious that Regan can’t keep his cool. Remember, he’s the one who assaulted a process server who was simply trying to deliver legal papers to his house, according to court documents.

It seems like Regan’s handlers should keep him away from public events. And process servers. And union staff members. After all, who knows when someone will next set Regan off like a fistful of nitroglycerin?

Here’s a link to the full story in the Sacramento Bee:  A union president shoved him at a Sacramento fundraiser, lawmaker reports.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Sources: Dave Regan Injured a California Lawmaker during Barroom Fight

SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan sent a California legislator to the hospital after knocking him down during Regan’s allegedly drunken attack on an unidentified patron of Sacramento restaurant and bar, according to sources.
SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

The legislator, Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-West Los Angeles), is considering taking legal action against Regan, say sources. He was at the restaurant to attend an event organized by the California Legislative Jewish Caucus when he was inadvertently injured by Regan.

Here’s what happened, say Tasty’s sources:

Earlier this month, Regan attended an event sponsored by “California Forward” at Lucca Restaurant and Bar, just two blocks from the state capitol.

Regan serves on the board of “California Forward,” which describes itself as a “bipartisan leadership council” that articulates “a vision for governance reforms to break the partisan gridlock and fortify fiscal management.” Other board members include Duf Sundheim (the former Chairman of the California Republican Party) and Wade Rose (Vice President of Government Relations at Dignity Health).

During the event, Regan reportedly got drunk and began arguing with an unknown patron. (Apparently, this was Dave’s method of ‘bridging the partisan divide.’) While attempting to punch the patron, Regan instead knocked Assemblymember Bloom to the floor, who was injured and reportedly transported to a local hospital.

Assemblymember Bloom happened to be at the restaurant attending a separate event sponsored by the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. He’s one of 16 legislators who comprise the caucus.

According to Tasty’s sources, California’s capital is now abuzz with reports about Regan’s reportedly drunken attack at Lucca and the injuries sustained by Bloom. 

As readers know, Regan is shadowed by a long trail of allegations, arrests, restraining orders and lawsuits related to physical assault, threats and violence.

In the most recent incident known to Tasty, in 2016 Regan allegedly attacked a process server attempting to deliver legal documents from the California Hospital Association to Regan’s home in Kensington, Calif. The process server later documented Regan’s assault in court records and in photographs of his injuries. He wrote a description of the assault submitted to the court, which reads in part:
"Mr. Regan kept hitting me in the head with his fist… I thought I was going to die."

During a police investigation, Regan attempted to intimidate an investigating police officer, according to CBS News. The incident resulted in a criminal complaint against Regan that was referred to the District Attorney. Ragin’ Dave Regan was also subject to a court-ordered restraining order.

In 2008, Regan led busloads of SEIU staffers and supporters in an attack against a national conference held by "Labor Notes," a network of union activists seeking to democratize and reform US labor unions.
Regan's 2008 assaults on Labor Notes Conference
Regan's troops violently forced their way into the conference in Dearborn, Michigan, where they reportedly punched, kicked and knocked participants to the floor. One female conference attendee was sent to the hospital with injuries to her head and one of the members of Regan's union at the time, SEIU 1199 West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, died during Regan's assault from a heart attack.

John Sweeney (then President of the AFL-CIO) denounced Regan's attack on the conference, stating: "There is no justification -- none -- for the violent attack orchestrated by SEIU," according to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

In 2011, Regan was sued for allegedly violating two civil rights laws by carrying out a plan of assault, battery, intimidation, threat and coercion in an effort to silence SEIU-UHW’s critics. Later, Regan reportedly settled the lawsuit out of court.

During a 2009 election among homecare workers in Fresno County, SEIU staffers reportedly threatened immigrant home care workers with deportation unless they voted for SEIU-UHW, according to TV news coverage and video-taped testimonials of workers and SEIU staff.

During NLRB elections at Kaiser Permanente in 2010, SEIU-UHW employed a "World War III" strategy designed to intimidate its members by employing, for example, violent "shout downs" and intimidation tactics against union members.

In one infamous incident inside a hospital cafeteria, SEIU-UHW staffer Tiffany Ford issued death threats against Kaiser employees… for which a Los Angeles Superior Court judge imposed a restraining order against her.

Another SEIU-UHW staffer, Liz Castillo, became a YouTube sensation (90,000 views) for her violent assault in a hospital cafeteria captured on videotape.

SEIU-UHW -- including staffer Angela Hewett -- even threatened and intimidated 80-year-old labor legend Dolores Huerta, who co-founded of the United Farm Workers Union with Cesar Chavez. In one incident, SEIU-UHW representatives shamefully screamed at Ms. Huerta to "go back to the fields."

In 1995, Regan was arrested by police in Ohio for disorderly conduct, according to CBS News.

Regan, in addition to serving as the President of SEIU-UHW, is also a Vice President of SEIU and serves on its DC-based International Executive Board headed by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

Here's the 2016 CBS news clip reporting on Regan's assault on a process server at his home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

More Bumps in the Road for Dave Regan’s Ballot-Initiative Bonanza

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan is facing more problems in his quest to pass at least ten ballot initiatives during 2018.

After first abandoning his effort to place an initiative on Arizona’s November ballot targeting the kidney dialysis industry, Regan then dropped his plans for ballot measures in three California cities “after not gathering enough signatures,” according to the East Bay Times.

The three measures would have targeted Stanford Health Care in the cities of Pleasanton, Emeryville and Redwood City. Regan tried to use the threat of his ballot initiatives to pressure Stanford into signing a special unionization deal. (Angela Ruggeiro, “Livermore sued over city measure for healthcare costs; asks court to rule on legality,” East Bay Times, August 10, 2018)

Earlier this year, the City of Emeryville sued SEIU-UHW alleging that Regan’s ballot initiative is unconstitutional, violates due process rules, and is preempted by state and federal laws.

In a fourth city in the San Francisco Bay Area – Livermore -- Regan successfully gathered enough signatures to qualify his anti-Stanford initiative for the citywide ballot. However, Diamond Dave and his attorneys are now locked in dueling lawsuits with the city.

On August 2, Regan sued the City of Livermore alleging that the ballot language approved by the City Council is biased. The lawsuit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court, according to press accounts and SEIU-UHW’s website.

Meanwhile, the City of Livermore has filed a court petition challenging the constitutionality of Regan’s ballot initiative. The city says healthcare prices are governed by statewide rules and that it would be improper for the city to create its own separate standards. The city attorney “likened the scenario to if Livermore adopted a different vehicle code, just for the city, which would go against state vehicle codes.”
Livermore City Attorney Jason Alcala

As the lawsuits move forward, pin-striped lawyers and pollsters and consultants are chanting “Ka-Ching!” as the price tag on Regan’s 2018 ballot-initiative bonanza soars ever higher.

Why is the City of Livermore against Regan’s ballot initiative?

If approved by voters, the measure would force the city to spend nearly $2 million a year to implement and administer Regan’s initiative, according to experts hired by city officials. Additionally, city officials fear that Regan’s initiative would drive hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers out of the city.

Late last year, Regan apparently launched his ballot-initiative bonanza with great hopes… despite the failure of his past efforts. In 2018, Regan introduced more ballot initiatives than during the past six years combined.

So far, however, Regan has come up empty-handed... and it’s unlikely he’ll eke out any deals at this stage of the game. Once the initiatives have been put on the ballot, there’s little incentive for the targeted companies to negotiate with Regan because he no longer has the power to remove the initiatives from the ballot.

Regan -- who believes ballot initiatives are some kind of miraculous solution for the profound problems gripping the US labor movement -- has dumped more than $10 million of his members’ funds into initiatives during 2018.

What could workers have done with this money?

And what’ll happen to Diamond Dave if he ends the year without a single unionization deal?

Stay tuned.  

Friday, August 10, 2018

SEIU Shutters Department, Gets Tongue-Lashing from Longtime Director

SEIU’s national leaders are coming under sharp criticism by the former director of SEIU International’s Occupational Health and Safety Program.


“As of July 1,” according to an article published in an online newsletter about workplace safety and labor issues, “the two-million member union will no longer have a health and safety program as it lays off its last health and safety staffer, Mark Catlin, who has been SEIU’s lone health and safety staffer for many months.”

Here’s what Bill Borwegen, the former director of SEIU’s Occupational Health and Safety Program, said:
‘Healthcare for All’ is a meaningless jingoistic slogan if unions aren’t willing to fund even the most meager of efforts to reduce workplace hazards that lead to preventable injuries, illnesses and deaths.  And with the release of the most recent troubling latest BLS statistics demonstrating how – if anything-- unions need to be redoubling their efforts at this time. Wow. Tragically this is a symptom of what happens when union leadership becomes thoroughly and utterly disengaged from the day to day workplace realities of those they get the privilege to serve.

Sharp language, right? “A union leadership that’s thoroughly and utterly disengaged from the day to day workplace realities of those they get the privilege to serve.”

Why is Borwegen -- who worked at SEIU for 30 years and was a well-known staffer there -- so critical?

It turns out that SEIU’s members work in industries, like health care, with skyhigh injury rates. In fact, injury rates among healthcare workers are higher than in the manufacturing industry. According to OSHA,
More workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector than any other. This industry has one of the highest rates of work related injuries and illnesses. In 2010, the healthcare and social assistance industry reported more injury and illness cases than any other private industry sector -- 653,900 cases. That is 152,000 more cases than the next industry sector: manufacturing… Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants had the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders of all occupations in 2010.

Musculoskeletal disorders refer, for example, to the back and shoulder injuries that nursing home workers suffer from having to lift and turn bed-bound patients.

OSHA goes on to describe other workplace dangers confronting healthcare workers:
Healthcare workers face a number of serious safety and health hazards. They include bloodborne pathogens and biological hazards, potential chemical and drug exposures, waste anesthetic gas exposures, respiratory hazards, ergonomic hazards from lifting and repetitive tasks, laser hazards, workplace violence, hazards associated with laboratories, and radioactive material and x-ray hazards.

SEIU’s elimination of its Health and Safety Program is even more troubling given the rivers of money that Andy Stern and Mary Kay Henry diverted away from local unions and poured into SEIU’s DC-headquarters over many years.

As part of their effort to centralize control and power in SEIU’s DC headquarters, Stern and Henry pushed through changes that required local SEIU affiliates to send more and more of their dues money to the national headquarters. In one episode, they even passed a measure to divert millions of dollars from SEIU’s national industry strike fund into SEIU International’s annual budget.

With all that money, why are SEIU officials shutting down a program that should be a core job of unions?

Like Borwegen said: it’s because of officials who are thoroughly and utterly disengaged from the day-to-day lives of their members.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Dave Regan Confronts Hurdles in Ohio Ballot Initiative Effort

SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan recently submitted signatures to try to put an initiative targeting kidney dialysis companies on Ohio's November ballot... but he came up 10,000 short of the 306,000 needed to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

That left Regan with just 10 days to collect 10,000 valid signatures before a state election deadline. (Jo Ingles, “Dialysis Clinic Regulation Ballot Issue Faces More Hurdles,” WKSU, July 27, 2018.)

Yesterday, an SEIU spokesperson announced that the campaign had submitted additional signatures that should qualify the measure for the ballot. The signatures must now be validated by state officials.

How much is Regan’s Ohio ballot-initiative project costing?

Beaucoup dinero.

As of July 31, Regan’s campaign had spent more than $4.1 million, according to records posted by the Ohio Secretary of State. (SEIU-UHW’s Political Action Committee is called “Ohioans for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection”).

In an interesting development, campaign finance disclosure reports indicate that SEIU International gave $2.5 million to the campaign. Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW has “loaned” the campaign more than $1.7 million. It’s unclear if SEIU-UHW will ever be repaid.

Why is DC-based SEIU International contributing to the campaign?

After all, Regan has warred with SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. It’s unclear what sort of internal politics lie behind this support.

Where has Regan spent the $4.1 million?

Most of the money has gone to a California signature-gathering firm that hires temporary workers to collect voters’ signatures. “In recent weeks we have seen hundreds of paid circulators,” said opponents of the measure, “many of them from out of state, gathering signatures on petitions.”

Meanwhile, Regan spent another chunk of change on polling and public-relations firms. Still other money has gone to the law firm of Regan’s personal attorney, Michael Hunter.

In June, campaign spending leaped skywards when the campaign paid more than $3.1 million to the signature-gathering firm headed by Angelo Paparella, according to disclosure records.

In yet another hurdle, Regan now faces a lawsuit over the ballot measure, which is designed to amend Ohio’s Constitution. 

The lawsuit was filed by the Ohio Renal Association, which represents the state’s 326 dialysis clinics. It seeks to block the measure from appearing on the November ballot. Of course, Regan will now have to spend gobs more money on lawyers to try to beat back the legal challenge.

So… the price tag for Regan’s ballot-initiative strategy keeps growing by the minute.

These new reports help us understand just how much money Regan is pouring into his 2018 ballot-initiative gamble, even though it doesn’t appear to be headed towards any resolution that would produce an organizing agreement between the dialysis industry and SEIU-UHW.

Stay tuned.