Thursday, October 25, 2018

SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan Launches “Spin” Offensive on Ballot Initiative

This week, Dave Regan trotted out an interesting “spin” on his ballot initiative gamble.

Regan’s mathematically-challenged spin goes something like this: 

Regan has spent $20 million of SEIU-UHW members’ money on a statewide ballot initiative targeting the dialysis industry. Meanwhile, two multinational dialysis companies have spent a combined $105 million to oppose the initiative. Even if Regan’s initiative loses at the ballot box, Dave says he’s still a winner because the other side was forced to spend more money.

A recent article entitled “Healthcare Workers’ Union Counts Dialysis Victory in Dollars Spent against It” (CalMatters, October 21, 2018) begins this way:
Win or lose, Dave Regan, the healthcare worker union leader who is pushing an initiative to regulate dialysis clinic profits, is getting some satisfaction at the huge sums being spent by the dialysis industry, $105 million and counting.
“In a weird kind of way, we must be doing something right,” Regan said, referring to the spending.

So why is Dave’s spin “mathematically challenged”?

Dave forgot to mention some important details.

For example, $105 million is barely a drop in the bucket for these mammoth companies. Their combined annual revenues are $51 billion, with annual combined profits totaling $4 billion. $105 million represents less than 0.2% of the companies’ annual revenues. It’s like a few pennies to them.

Meanwhile, Dave spent $20 million of SEIU-UHW members’ money, which represents about 20% of the union’s annual budget. Ouch!

Imagine if you gambled 20% of your organization’s annual budget… and you lost.

No wonder Dave is test-driving some spin… especially now that the election is less than two weeks away. Publicly, Regan says his union’s own polling indicates the initiative will win, according to a press release issued by SEIU-UHW this week.

Meanwhile, Regan’s $20 million gamble appears to have come at the expense of the union’s basic day-to-day work – such as bargaining good contracts and representing workers on the job. In recent months, two separate groups of SEIU-UHW members formally requested elections to decertify SEIU-UHW and go non-union, according to NLRB records. 

The two groups are USC Verdugo Hills Hospital (a 158-bed hospital in Glendale, Calif.) and Santa Rosa Community Health (an outpatient clinic system with 12 campuses and 500 staff in the San Francisco Bay Area). Regan has instructed his attorneys to stall the elections as long as possible.

Like Dave said: “In a weird kind of way, we must be doing something right.”

Friday, October 19, 2018

$125 Million Price-Tag on Dave Regan’s California Ballot Initiative

Here’s an update on Dave Regan’s 2018 ballot initiative bonanza:
The ballot initiative campaign with the highest price-tag in California's 2018 midterm elections isn’t about rent control or the gas tax, it’s about kidney dialysis, and specifically, how much profit providers can make from the procedure.
Supporters and opponents of Proposition 8, the “Fair Pricing for Dialysis Act,” have contributed almost $120 million during the 2018 campaign season.

(Samuel Metz, “California's most expensive proposition battle pits kidney dialysis providers against unions,” Palm Springs Desert Sun, Oct. 16, 2018)

In fact, these numbers have grown even higher since the article was published three days ago. According to the California Secretary of State, Regan has pumped $20.4 million into the campaign while opponents have poured $105.6 million into their effort.

Regan launched this statewide ballot initiative after SEIU-UHW was unsuccessful in organizing kidney dialysis workers a couple of years ago. Regan hoped his punitive measure would serve as leverage to force the industry into a backroom unionization deal -- just like Regan tried to do with the California Hospital Association.

Apparently, Regan’s threats weren’t enough.

According to one source, the two sides met in Sacramento to discuss a possible deal just days before the deadline for withdrawing initiatives from the ballot. After 30 minutes, however, the meeting reportedly ended when Regan stormed out of the room.

That’s what led to the full-on fight we’re now witnessing at the ballot box… with Regan’s billionaire opponents pouring five times as much money into their campaign as Regan.

At this point, it’s impossible for SEIU-UHW to finagle any sort of deal from the industry as Regan no longer has the ability to remove his initiative from the ballot.

So, SEIU-UHW is left in a no-win position… even as it spends tens of millions of its members’ dollars on a no-win proposition.

Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW’s public image is taking a beating in the press. All of the state’s major newspapers have editorialized against Regan’s initiative including the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Fresno Bee, La OpiniĆ³n, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Modesto Bee and Bakersfield Californian.

Many of the newspapers are angry at Regan’s repeated attempts to use the initiative process as a bargaining chip rather than a tool to create better public policy. For example, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat writes:
Proposition 8 is nothing short of an abuse of California’s initiative process, which allows anyone with enough money to put a proposed law on the ballot.
This initiative is designed to punish dialysis clinic operators who have resisted union efforts to organize their employees. Voters shouldn’t play along.
We don’t have a position on whether clinic employees should unionize. However, we’re absolutely certain that voters shouldn’t be asked to judge a regulatory scheme for a specialty medical procedure that literally is a matter of life and death for tens of thousands of California residents suffering from serious kidney disease. That’s a job for the Legislature and the state Department of Public Health Services.
Proposition 8, sponsored by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, supposedly is about improving conditions at the 588 licensed dialysis clinics around the state. Yet there is nothing in this initiative about standards of patient care…
This isn’t the first time these unions have used ballot initiatives to try to gain leverage at the bargaining table. But this fight doesn’t belong on the ballot, as voters are in no position to write accounting rules for dialysis clinics.

To date, Regan has gambled tens of millions of dollars of his members’ money on ballot initiatives… without success. This year, he introduced no fewer than 10 initiatives. 

Imagine if he had instead spent $20 million on training rank-and-file organizers, mounting aggressive contract fights, winning improved standards for workers and patients, and launching grass-roots organizing campaigns.

Unfortunately, Regan has little interest in developing rank-and-file leaders and building bottom-up power among his union's members. Why?

It means fewer challenges to his personal power atop the union.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Is SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan On the Take from his Billionaire Buddies?

Here’s the latest from San Francisco, where SEIU-UHW’s Dave Regan has joined forces with tech billionaires, real estate titans, and the billionaire CEO of a cryptocurrency company in an effort to defeat pro-worker candidates running for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Last month, Regan dumped a quarter million dollars of SEIU-UHW members’ money into a Super PAC associated with tech billionaire Ron Conway. In the past, Conway’s Super PAC has “netted five-figure donations from Facebook, Google, and Airbnb,” according to the SF Weekly.

In recent weeks, Conway’s Super PAC dumped $640,000 into “Independent Expenditure” campaigns aimed at defeating two pro-labor candidates, according to campaign records published by the California Secretary of State. 

One of the targeted candidates is Gordon Mar, the Director of Jobs with Justice San Francisco, which is part of a network of pro-labor nonprofit organizations across the nation. The second is an anti-eviction lawyer who serves on the city's Board of Education.

The avalanche of Super PAC donations from Regan and his corporate buddies has already prompted multiple complaints alleging campaign law violations, according to the SF Weekly.

San Francisco is an especially illuminating stage for Regan to flaunt his love-acts with tech billionaires and plutocrats.

Using data from the US Census Bureau, the city’s Human Services Agency concluded that San Francisco has more income inequality than Rwanda and other sub-Saharan countries. And the Brookings Institute found that San Francisco’s income inequality is growing faster than any other city in the nation.

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s housing costs are off the charts. City officials discovered that 42% of the city’s Latinos are living doubled-up with another family in one unit.

So why the f*ck is Regan working with billionaires to attack pro-worker candidates in the city with the highest income inequality in the nation?
Hotel workers striking Marriott in San Francisco

And how can Regan's $250,000 contribution to the Super Pac possibly be in the interest of SEIU-UHW's rank-and-file members?

Perhaps Diamond Dave is on the take.

After all, his timing is impeccable. 

Regan dumped SEIU-UHW’s quarter million dollars into anti-worker campaigns at the same time that thousands of UNITE HERE members are striking Marriott, the largest hotel operator in San Francisco.

So Dave, what kind of secret deal did you make with your billionaire buddies?

We want to know.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Election Begins at SEIU Local 73 Following Two-Year Trusteeship and Court Battle

Remember SEIU’s trusteeship of Local 73 in Chicago, which represents 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and Northwestern Indiana?

In August 2016, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry imposed the trusteeship based on the claim that tensions between the local union’s top two officers were disrupting it. She appointed Eliseo Medina, Dian Palmer and Denise Poloyac as trustees.

Eighteen months later, members of Local 73 sued SEIU and asked a federal judge to end the trusteeship and allow Local 73’s members to elect a president and Executive Board. Under federal law, a trusteeship is presumed to be invalid after 18 months.

That lawsuit -- known as Hunter vs SEIU -- was filed in February 2018 in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. This summer, a federal judge held a five-day hearing on the suit.

One month after the hearing concluded, the SEIU trustees announced officer elections. Earlier this week, mail-in ballots were sent to the union’s members and are due back October 23, according to a timeline posted on Local 73’s website.
Remzi Jaos

Initially, SEIU’s elections committee tried to block the opposition slate’s leading candidate from appearing on the ballot. Eventually, they backed down and Remzi Jaos, a candidate of the “Members Leading Members” slate, is on the ballot as a candidate for the president of Local 73. The slate is campaigning on a platform of returning control to local members.

Jaos formerly directed Local 73’s Higher Education Division and before that was a staffer at SEIU Local 1 and the Illinois Nurses Association, according to his bio on the “Members Leading Members” website. See below a photo of the slate’s candidates.

At the top of SEIU’s slate is Dian Palmer, who’s been one of SEIU’s appointed trustees at Local 73. Before that, she was the president of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. She’s also a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board.

The “Members Leading Members” slate says SEIU officials changed internal rules to allow Palmer and other SEIU staffers to qualify as candidates for the election. Here’s how they describe it in a leaflet:
In a sneaky move in July, Palmer got the International to waive the 2-year membership requirement for her and the other trustees. This waiver was done before any Local 73 members were notified by the Election Committee that the two-year membership requirement was changed to a six-month membership requirement!

Another SEIU staffer, Jeffrey Howard, is a candidate for the Executive Vice President. Howard, an “Assistant Area Director” for SEIU International, began working on the trusteeship team at the beginning of 2018.

In a September 26th filing in federal court, the plaintiffs in Hunter vs SEIU express additional concerns about the integrity of the voting system and the security of the ballots once they’re sent to an outside agency hired by SEIU to oversee the election. For example, they raise concerns about how "replacement ballots" will be issued and tracked, and how ballots returned as "undeliverable" will be handled and accounted for.

Stay tuned!