Tuesday, September 25, 2018

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan Joins Tech Billionaire to Oppose Pro-Worker Candidates

Tech billionaire Ron Conway

It turns out that Andy Stern is not the only SEIU official who’s working with billionaires to fight pro-worker candidates.

Ten days ago, Dave Regan deposited a quarter million dollars of SEIU-UHW members’ funds into a Super PAC to oppose two pro-worker candidates running for San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.

One of the candidates is Gordon Mar, the Executive Director of “Jobs with Justice San Francisco,” a pro-labor organization backed by many unions… including SEIU.

Go figure.

According to campaign records, Regan dropped the $250K into a PAC that’s long been associated with billionaire tech investor Ron Conway, a San Francisco resident who’s been sharply criticized for using his cash to exert outsized influence on San Francisco politics.

Just days after Regan deposited the money into Conway’s PAC (“Progress San Francisco”), the PAC funneled more than $120,000 into two “Independent Expenditure” campaigns to oppose the pro-worker candidates. (The two IEs are “San Franciscans for Change, Supporting Johnson and Trauss for D6 Supervisor 2018” and “Safe and Clean Sunset Coalition, Supporting Ho for D4 Supervisor 2018.”)
SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan
Conway, once dubbed the “Godfather of Silicon Valley,” was an early investor in Google, Facebook and other tech companies. He was the single largest donor to former San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee… dumping $600,000 into an independent expenditure committee to support Lee. After Lee was elected, observers criticized him for taking actions to benefit the companies in which Conway has investments.

When Lee died suddenly in office, Conway threw his support behind London Breed, who defeated two progressives in June 2018 with the help of a half million dollars of Conway’s money, according to campaign records. Breed now sits in the mayor’s office.

Regan, by pouring $250,000 into Conway’s PAC, has joined forces with a gang of SF business titans.

In recent days, a business association representing San Francisco’s 40 largest employers -- the so-called “Committee on Jobs” -- dumped $50,000 into Conway’s PAC. The group’s board is headed by Lloyd Dean, the CEO of Dignity Health, which employs about 13,000 of SEIU-UHW’s members. Conway also serves on the Board of Directors of the “Committee on Jobs.”

Another contributor is Diane Wilsey, the owner and CEO of A. Wilsey Properties Company, a San Francisco-based real estate company. Last week, she dropped $150,000 into Conway’s PAC, according to campaign records. (See below.)
Diane Wilsey -- Dave's pal

Wilsey, the daughter of a US ambassador and the great-granddaughter of the founder of Dow Chemical, inherited $300 million and a real estate company when her husband, a real estate tycoon, died in 2002.

She’s also a socialite who pays special attention to the ballet, the opera and museums, which earned her the title of “San Francisco’s queen of philanthropy” by the New York Times. (Jori Finkel, “For San Francisco’s Queen of Philanthropy, No Quiet Exits,” New York Times, August 1, 2016)

By the way… she loves her pet dogs. She donated thousands of dollars to put her dogs’ names on the walls of a San Francisco museum, where her pure-bred canines are memorialized as generous donors to the museum. 

WTF, right?

And here’s a shocker.

Wilsey reportedly doesn’t have much respect for regular people. 

A former director of San Francisco’s museums told the New York Times: “She can laugh and joke with anyone, even a truck driver. Her failing is that she has not always listened to what people told her if they didn’t have social standing.” (Laura M. Holson, “Dede Wilsey Is the Defiant Socialite,” New York Times, September 24, 2016)

Another former director put it more bluntly: “A lowly staff member does not command her attention. There is a master-servant relationship that gets in the way of things.”

Yo, Dave… she sounds like a f*cking perfect ally for the workers in SEIU-UHW.  Great job.

So who are the two candidates opposed by Regan, Conway, Wilsey, and the other gold-plated execs?

One is Gordon Mar, the Executive Director of “Jobs with Justice San Francisco.” He’s a candidate in District 4 for the Board of Supervisors. The second is Matt Haney, a tenants rights attorney who served as the President of the Board of Education. He’s a candidate in District 6.
Diane Wilsey relaxing with her dogs
Mar and Haney have each been endorsed by more than 20 unions, including UNITE HERE, NUHW, CNA, UFCW, Teamsters, the teachers’ union, the San Francisco Labor Council, and SEIU Local 1021. They’ve also been endorsed by groups like the Green Party, the San Francisco Tenants Union, San Francisco Berniecrats, the San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters, as well as progressive members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Meanwhile, their opponents -- Jessica Ho, Sonja Trauss and Christine Johnson, whom Regan is backing to the tune of $250,000 -- are each endorsed by just two unions.

So why is Regan working with corporate fatcats to oppose pro-worker candidates?

First of all, this isn’t new for Regan. Since Andy Stern appointed him as the trustee of SEIU-UHW, Regan has dramatically reshaped the union’s former political orientation in order to align it with business executives and the right wing of the labor movement.

In 2014, for example, Regan joined billionaire Conway and AirBnB investor Reid Hoffman in backing David Chiu, another corporate Democrat, in his race against David Campos, a progressive candidate for a California Assembly seat in San Francisco.

Secondly, there’s undoubtedly a transactional deal hidden behind Regan’s contribution -- a tit-for-tat exchange in which Regan kicks down $250,000 of SEIU-UHW members’ money in return for some secret benefit to Regan.

From the face of it, it’s difficult to see how SEIU-UHW’s numbers could possibly benefit from defeating pro-worker candidates and replacing them with corporate Democrats beholden to a billionaire tech investor and corporate bosses, including the CEO of Dignity Health.

Leave it to Regan -- a so-called “21st century thinker” -- to sell out workers in favor of corporate executives.

For more information, see excerpts from campaign filings below. Also, here are links to several articles:

Joe Kukura, “Massive Dark Money Donation Rocks D6 Race,” SF Weekly, September 20, 2018.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, “Mystery backers of Trauss, Johnson drop $100k into D6 race,” San Francisco Examiner, September 20, 2018.

Matier & Ross, “The one-two strategy in SF’s District Six supervisor race gets money behind it,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 24, 2018.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

SEIU’s Andy Stern Joins Billionaires, Not Union Members, in Election Campaign

SEIU's Andy Stern
SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern has once again shown his true colors.

In an upcoming election for a seat in California’s legislature, Stern has jumped in on the side of billionaires to back a corporate Democrat who’s challenging a union member supported by progressive organizations, multiple local unions, Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and California-based unions inside SEIU.

The November election pits Jovanka Beckles -- a Teamster, two-term Richmond city councilmember and DSA member -- against Buffy Wicks, a former White House official and Clinton Super PAC director who recently relocated to California and has never held elected office.

According to records from the California Secretary of State, Stern has made two contributions to Wicks this year. When contributing the funds, Stern identified himself as a “consultant” for Grandview, LLC, a corporation founded by Stern soon after he resigned as President of SEIU in April 2010. (See below.)

Incorporation documents confirm Stern’s role in the company (see below). Stern may use the corporation as a vehicle for his consulting gigs with tech companies like Uber and AirBnB. Stern’s company is registered to a Washington, DC apartment -- presumably Stern’s -- which appears to have a “grand view” of the Potomac River.
Jovanka Beckles (left) and Buffy Wicks (right)

The race for the California legislative seat has features similar to recent electoral contests in the US including the one between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Joe Crowley.

During this spring’s primary election, Wicks received $1.2 million from “wealthy donors tied to Lyft, Uber, and Bay Area tech firms, charter school interests, major landlords, a health care industry PAC, and Govern for California, a business-oriented Super PAC created by the board chair of Walmart and a former top advisor to Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger,” according to an article authored by labor journalist Steve Early. (Steve Early, “Teamster Tackles Corporate Democrat in California Assembly Race,” Labor Notes, August 31, 2018)

The "grand view" of the Potomac from the DC apartment
If you’re curious about Wicks’ donors, check out this interesting website -- buffywicks.money -- which offers details about Wicks’ donors including billionaires Ron Conway and Reid Hoffman.

“In contrast,” says Early, “Beckles raised and spent only about $160,000, mostly in smaller, in-state donations. She ran as a “people-powered” candidate, free of corporate money and relied on few paid staffers or outside consultants.” Beckles supports “workers’ and tenants’ rights, single payer health care, and getting big money out of politics,” says Early.

Here's an interview with Beckles in Jacobin Magazine: "We Need a New Economy That Works for the Many” 

Early writes:
Ex-SEIU President Andy Stern is an individual endorser of Wicks—despite the fact that two major SEIU locals and their state council favor Beckles. Since leaving the union, Stern has become a corporate board member and gig economy consultant… In the Assembly District 15 race today, California single-payer advocates favor Beckles over Wicks, whose position on health care reform is much weaker.
If Beckles’ consistent solidarity with local labor causes is reciprocated through sufficient union voter turnout and spending on her behalf, she may indeed be joining the Assembly in January.
And there, she will be a rare “corporate-free” voice for many other working class and poor Californians whose interests tend to be overlooked by state legislators who do take money from business PACs and industry associations.

Beckles is backed by multiple unions including the National Union of Healthcare Workers, Transit (ATU) Local 192, University Professional and Technical Employees (CWA), Teamsters Joint Council 7, SEIU Local 1021, the Alameda and Contra Costa County Labor Councils, the California Labor Federation, both statewide teachers’ unions, AFSCME, and the California Nurses Association.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Press: “Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit Filed against SEIU Prez’s Top Ally”

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan is getting more attention in the news… this time for allegations that he and other top SEIU-UHW officials engaged in harassment against women inside the union.

On August 21, Payday Report published an article detailing the latest developments in a lawsuit filed by Mindy Sturge against SEIU-UHW and Marcus Hatcher. Sturge first filed the lawsuit in May, but filed an updated and amended suit in July in Alameda County (Calif.) Superior Court. (Mike Elk, “Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit Filed Against SEIU Prez’s Top Ally,” Payday Report, August and 21, 2018)

Until recently, Hatcher directed SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division and served on the union’s Executive Board and Executive Committee. He was one of Regan’s top allies. Sturge, a “Coordinator” in SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division, was directly supervised by Hatcher.

Here’s an excerpt from the article. A full copy of the revised lawsuit is below.
Payday Report has learned that one of the largest Service Employees International Union locals in the country, California-based SEIU-UHW, has been sued in Alameda, California for sexual misconduct and assault committed by a top SEIU official against one of its former organizers. The lawsuits, obtained by Payday Report, accuses SEIU Vice President Dave Regan, who also serves as President of SEIU-UHW, of engaging in sexual misconduct…
SEIU-UHW has long faced criticism as one of the most corrupt and undemocratic union locals in the country; leading many #metoo activists to believe that the undemocratic culture within the union has bred a culture where misogyny and sexual misconduct flourish…
Now a lawsuit filed by a former SEIU staffer, Mindy Sturge, accuses SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan and former SEIU-UHW Kaiser Permanente Division Director Marcus Hatcher, of sexual misconduct and retaliation against Sturge for reporting it.
The lawsuit filed by Sturge also accuses SEIU-UHW of knowingly hiring organizers such as [Pedro] Malave who have been accused of sexual misconduct in other parts of the union.
According to the lawsuit: “Sturge and other women employees, and women union members were the subjects of inappropriate remarks that addressed their looks, their bodies, and their availability/interest in relationships. Sturge was also subjected to offensive touching, and she and others were discussed in inappropriate texts and in comments heard by or related to Sturge”.
Sturge reported the comments to SEIU-UHW management on several occasions, but no investigation was undertaken until Sturge was physically and sexually assaulted by Hatcher in September of 2017.
When Sturge finally did report the incidents, the lawsuit alleges that Regan, who was responsible for investigating all claims as President of the SEIU-UHW, verbally abused and berated Sturge in front of other staff members.
In November of 2017, Hatcher was reportedly fired from SEIU-UHW for violating SEIU’s non-fraternization policy, but the union took no disciplinary action against him for engaging in alleged sexual misconduct and assault. Nor was an action taken against SEIU UHW President Dave Regan for harassment of Sturge.
During this time period, the lawsuit alleges that Hatcher and his allies made social media posts and verbal comments accusing Sturge of lying about the story and trying to shake down Hatcher and the union for money after engaging in a consensual sexual relationship with Hatcher.
The lawsuit alleges that that “SEIU-UHW and its agents furthered the false and defamatory narrative about Sturge by announcing to others, both internally and externally, that Hatcher was fired for violation of the union’s non-fraternization policy as opposed to Hatcher having violated SEIU-UHW’s anti-harassment policy and/or having assaulted Sturge. This gave rise to the implication that Sturge and Hatcher had a consensual relationship or that his termination was the sole result of his consensual relationship(s) with other union staff and/or members”.

The lawsuit alleges that Hatcher and/or other SEIU-UHW staffers waged a campaign on Facebook and other social media designed to trash Sturge’s reputation and to lie about what happened. Here’s an excerpt from the lawsuit:
Among other things, these posts claim that Sturge had lied about the sexual assault by Hatcher, that she had “a consensual affair” with Hatcher, that she had ruined Hatcher’s life and career, that she is a “liar and manipulator,” that she is “a cheat and a home wrecker,” that she traveled to Los Angeles to further her alleged consensual affair with Hatcher, that she would go “bar-hopping” with Hatcher, and that she had reported Hatcher’s conduct to SEIU-UHW solely for the purpose of obtaining a monetary settlement…

According to the lawsuit, all of these statements are false and originated from Hatcher and/or other SEIU-UHW staffers. The latest version of the lawsuit says that when some of these Facebook post attacking Sturge were shown to Greg Pullman (SEIU-UHW’s Chief of Staff), he called the posts “disgusting.”

If the lawsuit proceeds to trial, says Payday Report, it could produce “volumes of evidence” that could shine a light on why top SEIU officials like Regan “were allowed to get away with sexual misconduct and retaliation against those who reported it.”