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.