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.