Thursday, October 22, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
The fact that SEIU refused to openly count the ballots (in contravention to long-standing UHW tradition) is an indication that either a) the result was pre-ordained, or b) they don't trust their best-and-brightest stewards to get the "correct" result.
Either way, this was Zombie UHW's first real test within KaiPerm, and it appears that they are flunking that test. This one should have been a slam-dunk. The Zombies have been putting out press releases far and wide about how they have "saved 150 pharmacy jobs," but they forgot that one little part about how their agreement had to be actually ratified by the a bunch of workers whom were getting their hours cut conceivably by 40% in order to "save" those jobs.
Just another day at Zombie UHW HQ...
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
...prevent the other guy from success by any means fair or foul.
EVS workers at Providence Tarzana are voting right now to join NUHW—but SEIU is having the ballots locked in a safe immediately after the election, to hide the result from workers and the public until the labor board sifts through a new string of frivolous charges. This will delay workers from negotiating with their employer for affordable health insurance and wages that can support their families.Ya want more detail? Here it is...
EIU has been denying EVS workers at Providence Tarzana the right to form a union for years.This is probably the same tactic that SEIU is going to use at SRMH - to delay and obfuscate until such time as people are so frustrated that things will return to the status quo.
- First, SEIU signed a secret deal with their employer and agreed not to let the workers join any SEIU local.
- When a majority of the workers filed petitions in February to join NUHW, SEIU delayed their election with a frivolous charge at the NLRB. That blocking charge was rejected.
- On Oct. 13, just one day before the election, SEIU filed more baseless charges and asked the NLRB to cancel the election. That request was also rejected.
Now, SEIU has gotten the NLRB to agree to lock the ballots in a safe immediately after the election, so no one will know the results until after the labor board considers SEIU’s charges. This will further delay these 54 workers from negotiating for more affordable healthcare and wages that support their families.
According to the Zombie mouthpieces, this is called "representation."
Let's see what some of those who are actually involved in this fight have to say:
Environmental services workers at Providence Tarzana Medical Center are voting today in a government-supervised election to form their first union, despite a last-minute effort by SEIU to stop them. SEIU's latest request to block the election was rejected by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) yesterday, but ballots will be held and not be counted until the board resolves a string of frivolous "blocking charges" that SEIU filed to delay the vote.Gee whiz. Keeping ballot results secret. Secret backroom deals with management. Accusing other labor organizations of being assisted by the employer when you are already working hand-in-glove with the employers yourselves.
The 54 workers are employees of Crothall, a subcontractor at the hospital. A majority intend to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), an independent union founded by SEIU reformers that sparked a mass exodus from the troubled union.
"All we want is a voice to stand up for wages and healthcare to support our families," said Sandra Quintanilla, one of the workers. "But SEIU would rather leave us with no union at all than let us join NUHW. They want to destroy NUHW at all costs because they know as long as healthcare workers have a choice, we'll choose NUHW."
In the last three weeks, workers at Los Alamitos Medical Center and The Sequoias-Portola Valley assisted living facility also voted to join NUHW. SEIU was forced to withdraw from the election early at Los Alamitos, and at the Sequoias they failed to even qualify for the ballot.
SEIU has filed "blocking charges" with the NLRB to delay hundreds of elections by SEIU members who want to join NUHW. One of SEIU's charges has been blocking Crothall workers' election at Providence Tarzana since February, when a majority of the non-union workers filed petitions to join NUHW.
When the labor board rejected SEIU's charge last month and scheduled the election, SEIU put their "Service Workers United" (SWU) affiliate on the ballot and tried to compete. Despite sending a dozen SEIU staff to workers' homes and into the hospital to campaign for SWU, they were unable to win majority support and tried to have the election cancelled to avoid another defeat.
Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed "Service Workers United" as a project to increase SEIU's membership by making secret deals with the nation's largest employers to enroll low-wage workers into the union. The employers help SEIU sign workers up for relatively high union dues, and in return SEIU agrees to secret concessions that are not disclosed to members. The very existence of the deals is kept secret from workers. (Wall Street Journal: http://bit.ly/wsj-swu)
SWU has just such a secret agreement with Crothall's parent company, the Compass Group. Ironically, one of the frivolous charges SEIU has used to obstruct the ballot count alleges that workers' chosen union was "assisted by the employer."
Sounds like just another day at the office for the Purple Plague.
Monday, October 12, 2009
With a six-year unionization effort at stake, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital has become a battlefield in a rivalry between national labor giant Service Employees International Union and a fledgling group of its former Northern California leaders.Looks like the NLRB is getting sick and tired of SEIU's posturing. While a welcome surprise, it certainly took them a while to get to this point - and SRMH employees have suffered as a result.
In April, about 600 hospital nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, radiology and other health care-related technicians were on track to schedule a union election under a petition with the new group, the National Union of Healthcare Workers. But at the final hour, SEIU intervened and stalled proceedings.
The National Labor Relations Board granted SEIU’s request to also be on the ballot, but then the union’s officials twice filed complaints that further delayed the vote for five more months. During that time, SEIU organizers flocked to the Santa Rosa hospital to campaign, according to interviews with several workers.
Now, in a break with normal policy, a top regional labor official said last week that, despite the outstanding SEIU allegations, the federal agency intends to schedule an election following an Oct. 19 hearing.
“It is a very unusual situation, and normally the election would be blocked until we decided on the merit of the charges,” said Joseph Norelli, San Francisco regional director for the National Labor Relations Board.
The NLRB has dismissed many such complaints filed by SEIU in other elections involving the competing union, officials said. And Mr. Norelli said the board has decided it is not going to wait until the complaint in Santa Rosa is resolved to schedule the election.
Meanwhile, the North Bay Labor Council, which is not affiliated with either union, asked SEIU in a Sept. 29 letter to step down from the campaign, saying, “Memorial workers have chosen NUHW as their union.”
Not surprisingly, the Zombies take a rather contrarian view to what is going on in this article...
Earth to Trossman: If that majority of workers supported SEIU, then WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU IN THE FIRST EIGHT MONTHS OF THIS YEAR?!? The people at SRMH were calling, and in fact begging for SEIU's help, and all you did was to block their desires to unionize with procedural BS.
SEIU California spokesman Steve Trossman said the letter is based on “misguided” information.
Four days ago, workers on the Memorial organizing committee hand-delivered a similar request to SEIU’s Santa Rosa office.
“We are appalled at SEIU’s last-minute interference into our union election. … You may disagree with the union we have chosen, but it is our decision,” said the letter signed by close to 75 workers.
“[We] were forced to endure a five-month delay because of SEIU’s legal maneuvers. During the delay, nearly 200 of our coworkers were laid off. … In this economy, workers at Memorial cannot afford to be without a union, but that is exactly what you have accomplished.”
It was SEIU’s Northern California branch, United Healthcare Workers West, that actually launched the initial union campaign at Memorial about six years ago, but workers switched their petition to a smaller union in January when SEIU’s executive board instigated a “trusteeship” of the local office.
Mr. Trossman accused the new union of misrepresenting itself in order to gain signatures for the petition submitted in April and that a majority of workers favor SEIU.
The hospital, for its part, is staying remarkably neutral. (You folks at KP management should take notes)...
Memorial Hospital officials said in an e-mail that, “at St. Joseph Health System-Sonoma County, we remain committed to letting employees choose for themselves whether they wish to be represented by a union, and if so, by which union.”The article then goes into a bit of history, and once again the Plague comes out looking somewhat less than spectacular...
You can bet it's a priority now, especially now that NUHW stands more than a puncher's chance of victory.
The region-wide competition between the national union and its former staff stems from a shift that began more than a year ago.
In January 2008, SEIU executives commenced efforts to “restructure” its California representation, setting in motion an increasingly heated schism with the region’s local leaders.
The clash in thinking culminated in a trustee hearing at the beginning of 2009, where the SEIU executive board accused the California branch leaders of inappropriately siphoning millions into a nonprofit.
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall, who was appointed to serve as hearing officer by SEIU President Andrew Stern, ultimately determined that trusteeship of the local branch was warranted, but “solely on [the local branch’s] obstinance to the restructuring, not on [financial] misconduct,” according to court documents.
The trusteeship went into effect Jan. 27, and the next day about 100 leaders quit and formed NUHW. The change happened just as Memorial workers were ready to file for an election and, according to one organizing committee member and the North Bay Labor Council, SEIU abandoned efforts in Santa Rosa.
“When the union was trusteed, they literally left us in the lurch. They came in, shut down our Santa Rosa office, fired our elected officials, really destroyed the union as we knew it. NUHW was kind of the phoenix rising from ashes,” said 24-year Memorial Telemetry Technician Nancy Timberlake, who is on the organizing committee for the hospital.
The recent letter from the North Bay Labor Council signed by President Jack Buckhorn and Executive Director Lisa Maldonado said the group was “left with the clear impression that the campaign at Memorial was not a priority for the new leadership of SEIU.”
Hopefully the NLRB will keep its word, such that Zombie UHW can be forced to take "no" for an answer by the employees at SRMH.
Employees said in the last few weeks SEIU organizers called home phone numbers and approached workers door-to-door, prompting Memorial to send a memo saying it did not disseminate workers’ information. SEIU officials did not confirm the home soliciting but said it is a common practice of union campaigning, including efforts by NUHW.
“The home visits haven’t gone over very well. The SEIU organizers said things like ‘we are the union chosen by the hospital’ and not taking no for answer,” said 13-year Memorial Radiology Technician Jack Nicholson, who is on the worker organizing committee.
Steve Early has penned an excellent piece on (what passes for) the Labor-Management Partnership which both KP and the former leadership of UHW instilled back in the late 1990s in order to help drag both organizations out of a war footing. Some sections are deserving of careful notice, in that both Zombie UHW and KaiPerm are taking advantage of the death of the LMP process in the wake of the trusteeship in order to promote their respective positions, at the expense of the rank-and-file who actually made the LMP what it was prior to January 27, 2009...
As described in Healing Together, their goal was to "exchange information about particular local struggles" and begin "developing a joint strategy and structure" for more effective bargaining and strike activity. At the time KP was losing $250 million a year and facing pressure "to better match the cost structures of competing HMOs." So labor and management ended up trying to create a less adversarial relationship that would, as a by-product, expand worker influence in the administration of Kaiser and improve its delivery of care. The resulting "partnership" -- which according to the authors has produced more than "a decade of labor peace" -- was not "the product of an ideological conversion to labor-management cooperation." Rather, it evolved "out of a pragmatic judgment" that the parties "would have more to lose separately and jointly by going further down the road of escalating conflict."I have to wonder how CNA's Judas Squad feels about that position, now that Rose Ann and Andy are best buds.
Advocates of this approach point to subsequent gains for workers in job security, pension coverage, and standardized wage rates, plus opportunities to participate in decision-making about issues beyond the scope of normal contract bargaining, a process which required strong, union involvement. Critics, such as the California Nurses Association (CNA), which represents thousands of Kaiser nurses, contend that "jointness" in health care can lead to compromising of patient care standards.
The four labor relations experts who produced this book were hired, in 2001, as paid consultants to the Kaiser-financed trust fund set up to administer the "Labor-Management Partnership" (LMP), which the CNA has boycotted. Several are well-known advocates of greater labor-management cooperation. So, notwithstanding their claim to "independence as outside researchers," they would appear to have a vested interest in proclaiming the LMP to be a great success. The authors believe it "has implications for two of the greatest challenges facing the nation today: how to improve, if not fix, a broken health care system" and how to revive a system of collective bargaining "that has collapsed."That approach may have worked in the past, but it only worked when both labor and management were serious about discussing issues in UBT. Right now, there's no rank-and-file participation (because SEIU doesn't want "undesirables" elected), and management feels they have free rein.
The AFL-CIO likewise remains quite bullish about this experiment. At a Washington, D.C. forum in July, now-retired AFL-CIO leader John Sweeney applauded Kaiser for its LMP-assisted "improvements in patient outcomes, reductions in medical errors, better preventative care, cost savings, and a better, more satisfying work environment for everyone involved." In particular, Sweeney cited the "significant work" of "unit-based teams" (or UBTs) in "bringing doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists, and other caregivers together on behalf of patients."
Unfortunately, neither Sweeney's upbeat view nor Healing Together -- because of the timing of its publication -- address the latest developments at Kaiser: a bitter shop-floor struggle in which management has sided with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) against the latter's own rebellious California members. That conflict began last winter when the LMP's largest local union participant, 150,000-member United Healthcare Workers (UHW), was put under trusteeship by SEIU President Andy Stern, following a major challenge to his leadership by UHW officers and rank-and-filers.The basic difference in approach from the prior UHW leadership and Nice Scarf cannot be stated better than that.
Although supportive of the Kaiser partnership and a key player in building it, UHW had, in 2007-8, resisted pressure from Stern to make continuing contract concessions to California nursing home operators. These deals were supposed to expand union organizing opportunities but, as documented by UHW, deprived workers of important job rights, prevented them from functioning as patient advocates, and failed to produce significant gains in either wages or dues paying membership. Stern responded to this dissent by trying to dismember UHW and transfer 65,000 of its long term care workers to a new statewide local, with leaders appointed by him, who would be more partnership-friendly. When the affected UHW members balked at this plan, Stern removed all of UHW's democratically-elected leaders and replaced them with his own appointees, triggering a grassroots revolt.
Soon after UHW's treasury and offices were seized, a majority of the 48,000 UHW-represented employees at Kaiser petitioned to leave SEIU and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), a rival union created by former UHW-president Sal Rosselli and other ousted activists. Unfortunately, the National Labor Relations Board is not a great protector of "employee free choice" among already unionized workers seeking to change unions. The Board upheld SEIU's legal claim that no representation vote should be held at Kaiser until next year, when the current five-year contract expires. Until then, NUHW must survive on voluntary contributions from its workplace supporters, plus re-sign KP workers on new election petitions or cards.SEIU will cheerfully tell you that the above three paragraphs represent "member driven democracy."
Since last January, more than 700 UHW stewards have quit in disgust or been removed by SEIU after they refused to sign the "loyalty oath" required by Stern's trustees. Kaiser has eagerly exploited the International union's dismantling of the shop floor organization created by UHW for the purposes of strong contract enforcement and defending workers' rights. At Kaiser today, rank-and-file confidence in the value of partnering and management's commitment to that process is very low, in bargaining units controlled by SEIU. Kaiser's "unit-based teams" -- the basic building blocks of worker participation much lauded by the authors -- are in complete disarray, SEIU opponents report.
"I've never seen this many terminations without just cause," says Lisa Tomasian, who works at Kaiser's Santa Clara Medical Center. "Many of us are facing discipline on trumped-up charges by managers who we used to hold accountable as shop stewards." According to Tomasian, the "open bargaining" championed by UHW has been replaced by secret meetings between management and SEIU staffers from out-of-state. The latter "agreed to huge cuts in our pension," Tomasian charges. "SEIU brought four stewards to meet with Kaiser after the deal was made. They were told to just listen and ask no questions. SEIU appointees claimed that, by including these four people, democracy was served. Meanwhile, our lump sum payout will get smaller and smaller until it's gone as an option altogether in 2012."
In August, with no membership participation in bargaining, International union reps then undermined past job security protections by giving Kaiser the green light to eliminate as many as 1,350 jobs. KP claimed the downsizing was necessary because of recession-related "enrollment losses and declining margins." As NUHW noted Sept. 25, even larger lay-offs were threatened five years ago when KP introduced a new system of electronic record-keeping. Yet, under the old leadership of UHW, "a large committee of elected rank-and-file members met with Kaiser management to implement the contract's employment security provisions" and insure that "workers would be redeployed throughout the company without any lay-offs." This time, with no worker-input or bargaining table resistance to management's plans, "SEIU leaders' top-down concessionary style" led to the signing of "a massive layoff deal at the same time Kaiser posted $1.1 billion profits during the first six months of 2009."Unfortunately, the "other" unions will not stand up to SEIU until such time as there is a workable alternative - which is why KaiPerm and SEIU are working so hard together to prevent that workable alternative (NUHW) from coming to fruition.
"Kaiser is truly in bed with SEIU," says former UHW leader Ralph Cornejo, now an organizer for NUHW. "Relationships that our stewards had built with the administration ended from one day to the next, when the trusteeship was imposed last January. Kaiser is feeling like they can do just about anything now, and get away with it. Many members feel the union is irrelevant. The other unions know that partnership is doomed if this continues."
In Healing Together, Kaiser is nevertheless lauded for its exemplary pre-trusteeship agreement on union recognition. KP's pledge of non-interference with new organizing has led to a success rate of 80 percent, in 29 recruitment campaigns involving 7,400 workers. Overall, between 1997 and 2006, LMP unions grew from about 55,000 to 86,000 members, via card check recognition, bargaining unit accretion, and additional hiring. Yet, when workers opted to join a labor organization outside the partnership, managers behaved very differently: they reacted like any other anti-union bosses. In 2004, for example, several hundred workers at a Kaiser call center in Alameda, California chose to organize with help from the Communications Workers of America. KP refused to recognize their "card majority" and bought additional time for "Vote No" campaigning in a hotly contested NLRB election that was a case study in why workers need the Employee Free Choice Act. After CWA won, KP management continued to spend heavily on "union avoidance," while engaging in bad faith bargaining for more than a year. Without benefit of first contract arbitration (of the sort proposed by EFCA) and lacking enough support to strike, the union was decertified by a narrow margin, due to worker frustration and demoralization.Henry J. Kaiser must be rolling in his grave right now, seeing the phrase "Kaiser's union-busting behavior" in print.
KP's union-busting behavior -- which no LMP participant protested at the time -- prefigured what is now widespread management hostility toward workers allied with NUHW rather than Kaiser's much preferred partner, SEIU. As 17-year Kaiser worker Richard Schofield from West Covina, Ca., wrote in a recent letter of protest, after being removed as an elected shop floor leader: "Requiring stewards to 'bow down' and sign a pledge of allegiance to SEIU-UHW is in direct conflict with all that we accomplished through partnership activities. Where is the collaborative spirit that the LMP was founded on? Does anyone really think that directing stewards to sign such a document will not contaminate the more democratic environment that has been created?"
For Schofield and many other longtime KP union members, next year's representation contest between NUHW and SEIU-UHW can't come soon enough. "You don't need a weather man to see which way the wind is blowing," he says. "SEIU is on the wrong side of this storm" because, "without trust and honesty, there will never be a relationship between leadership and rank and file. The eventual outcome is always with the majority no matter how long and hard the fight."
Perhaps, in the fullness of time, those who supported SEIU in this fight will see that they were truly on the wrong side of the storm on this one; in the meantime, the Zombies will continue to fight alongside KP management, and against the workers, and evidently will believe anything that comes out of Dupont Circle to be Holy Writ.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital are used to anti-union literature from their employer, but this is the first one they've received from SEIU-UHW. This starting arriving at workers' homes yesterday and today (see attached). It provides confirmation that SEIU-UHW will be running a totally negative campaign against workers' chosen union, NUHW.I can't say I'm surprised at the Zombie UHW tactics, as they are going to precisely mirror what Rose Ann Demoro's lovely and talented followers at CNA did to SEIU in the Catholic Healthcare Partners deal in Ohio - and that was the excuse for Brave Sir Regan's to send in his thugs and break up the Dearborn Labor Notes conference back in April of 2008.
The mailer comes two days after members of the worker organizing committee delivered an open letter to SEIU-UHW Trustee Dave Regan asking SEIU-UHW to withdraw from the election. The text of the worker letter, signed by 75 SRMH workers, follows:
"AN OPEN LETTER TO DAVE REGAN, SEIU-UHW TRUSTEE
As members of the union organizing committee at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, we are appalled at SEIU-UHW’s last-minute interference in our union election. All of us have been working and sacrificing together to organize our union, and yes, it is our union. You may disagree with the union we have chosen, but it is our decision to organize with National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).
We filed for our election with NUHW back in April, and were forced to endure a five-month delay because of SEIU-UHW’s legal maneuvers. During that delay, nearly 200 of our coworkers were laid off, our pay was frozen and management has now made plans to take away our sick time. In this economy, workers at Memorial cannot afford to be without a union, but that is exactly what you have accomplished.
Your organizers showed up at our co-workers’ doors only after the NLRB finally allowed the election to go forward and your second attempt to stop our vote failed. The continued interference of SEIU-UHW organizers and lawyers is far worse than anything our management has done in recent memory. The NLRB may say you have a right to be on the ballot, but your presence in this election will only create confusion and division.
Last year, your union local in Ohio had scheduled an election for workers at Catholic Healthcare Partners. The California Nurses Association disrupted that election, like you are disrupting ours. In that election, the CNA used tactics to turn workers against their chosen union. You told the New York Times that the interference “is indistinguishable from that of the most vicious anti-union employers. It violates every principle of unionism. Real people are worse off today as a result of their behavior.” (New York Times, March 12, 2008).
Dave, like those workers in Ohio, we are real people too, and we are worse off because of your behavior. For too long, you and SEIU-UHW have actively prevented us from exercising our democratic right to vote for the union of our choice. So stop the house visits and stop the phone calls. It’s time for you to respect our decision and withdraw from the election at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital."
It looks like dear, sweet Rose Ann's tactics are beginning to filter their way through Andy's earlobes and into Brave Sir Regan's nether regions.
Once again, an OUTSTANDING piece of work contributed by Keyser over at Red Revolt, and that site deserves continued patronage as we are forced to wade through the chin-deep hypocrisy that Zombie UHW is going to put out while they figure out what to do with those stubborn employees at SRMH who seemingly refuse to toe the SEIU party line.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
And why is it that NUHW supporters have to be the ones that do the "revealing" on contracts and agreements to which SEIU has placed their signatures?
Go on over to Red Revolt and take a peek at Zombie UHW's latest masterpiece agreement.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
SEIU’s no-holds-barred struggle with NUHW ratcheted up further last week as the powerful union was criticized by the North Bay Labor Council for contesting efforts by Santa Rosa hospital workers to join NUHW. Unlike SEIU’s prior conflicts with NUHW over already organized workers, the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, part of the three-state St. Josephs Health System, involves non-union workers who have been seeking union representation for over a decade. Workers supporting NUHW filed petitions seeking a union election on April 13, but SEIU quickly blocked the election for nearly five months by filing NLRB charges. After these charges were dismissed, SEIU filed new NLRB claims to prevent the hospital workers from voting to affiliate with NUHW. It then informed both NUHW and the employer that it would not negotiate ground rules for an election that would prevent negative campaigning, even though this would prevent employer interference and the ballot would include both unions. Santa Rosa Memorial workers desiring union representation are irate over SEIU’s tactics, saying they felt SEIU “deserted” them months ago and is now “disrupting” their efforts to unionize.Shaw then goes into the almost-seven-year backstory of the organization efforts at Santa Rosa, before dropping a couple of bricks on Brave Sir Regan's head:
Stopping NUHW By All Means NecessaryShaw then notes the entry of the North Bay Labor Council into the fight, with one very telling sentence that pretty much says it all about Zombie UHW's efforts at "organization".
As I have previously described, SEIU believes it has a moral right to defeat NUHW at any cost, even if, as in Santa Rosa, it means denying workers the right to union representation. SEIU-UHW trustee Eliseo Medina stated in a September 25 letter to St. Joseph’s and NUHW obtained by Beyond Chron that NUHW’s claim to be a labor organization was “wishful thinking,” and that “it does not serve the interests of the workers” to have any involvement with NUHW.
To this end, SEIU responded to the workers April 13 election petition by filing NLRB charges that blocked the election for nearly five months. After the NLRB dismissed the charges, SEIU filed a new charge. This time it claimed that longtime NUHW attorney Jonathan Siegel had a legal conflict of interest with SEIU, and that any election at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital had to be delayed until the NLRB reviewed this alleged conflict.
According to SEIU spokesperson Steve Trossman, Siegel had “confidential information” about Santa Rosa Hospital workers that would “adversely impact” SEIU’s election chances. Glenn Goldstein of NUHW counters that Siegel “never had any involvement with the Santa Rosa campaign,” and that SEIU delayed raising the Seigel issue “until the day of the hearing solely to cause further delay.”
In any case, SEIU’s latest NLRB charge delayed the scheduling of a union election until the next NLRB hearing on October 19. Meanwhile, SEIU is flooding the hospital with organizers in an attempt to undermine what currently appears to be overwhelming worker support for NUHW.
The 60-union strong North Bay Labor Council has long played an active supporting role in the organizing drive of workers in Santa Rosa’s only non-union hospital. And it is the Council’s assessment, as set forth in a September 25 letter to SEIU, that Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital workers want to join NUHW and want nothing to do with SEIU. The letter to SEIU-UHW trustees Dave Regan and Eliseo Medina states in pertinent part:Hammer, meet nail. SEIU is almost always able to regurgitate one or two lackeys who are able to parrot the Zombie UHW spin, but there's nobody at Zombie UHW HQ who is even able to tell a reporter who that might be. As such, we can only be left with one conclusion: SEIU has no support at SRMH, and everyone else knows it, so the only way to keep NUHW from a huge propaganda victory is to prevent any and all elections from happening. This tactic, however, can have adverse downstream consequences...
“It is clear that Memorial workers have chosen NUHW as their union and we respect and support their decision. We respectfully ask that SEIU-UHW respect these workers' choice and withdraw from the election al Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital so that these workers can finally have the successful election they have worked so hard and risked so much for.”
The letter, signed by Labor Council President Jack Buckhorn and Executive Director Lisa Maldanado, recites the history of SEIU’s abandonment of the hospital campaign and the workers subsequent decision to reach out to NUHW. It is a powerful statement from the conscience of the Santa Rosa labor community, and testament to the strong credibility the hospital workers have earned.
Significantly, the SEIU 1021 representative on the North Bay Labor Council agreed to the position taken in the letter.
Worker Opposition to SEIU
Having organized for years to achieve union representation, workers like Nancy Timberlake see SEIU’s recent delaying tactics as “unscrupulous,” and views the union as “trying to be as disruptive as possible.” She claims SEIU has “no hope of winning the election,” and feels the union “pulled the rug out from under the workers” after the January trusteeship.
Melissa Bosanco echoed Timberlake’s comments about SEIU’s unpopularity, noting that since nearly 200 layoffs earlier this year “workers are desperate for something positive to happen.” She said that SEIU “was not trying to organize at all” until the workers aligned with NUHW, and that she had “not seen a single SEIU organizer” until recently.
I asked SEIU spokesperson Trossman for contact information for pro-SEIU workers, but was given no names.
Despite the desires of Santa Rosa hospital workers and the Labor Council, SEIU is waging an all-out campaign to either win the election or prevent it from happening. Trossman insists that an election will happen soon, and SEIU has brought in organizers from around the country to bring off what would be a tremendous upset victory.SEIU is so focused on their anti-NUHW mindset that they are now utterly unable to see or to comprehend the negative effect on workers and on the union movement in general that their anti-union stances at facilities big and small across California have represented.
Yet Medina’s refusal to negotiate election ground rules with the employer so long as NUHW is involved sends different, and more ominous, signals.
First, it implies that SEIU has less interest in a prompt election than in further delays pursuant to the NLRB process. This would give SEIU more time to meet with Santa Rosa workers in hopes of turning the tide.
Second, it means SEIU plans on engaging in negative campaigning against NUHW, and has no problem with the employer engaging in disruptive behavior to prevent unionization. This goes against SEIU’s longstanding policy of negotiating election ground rules with employers that govern multiple worksites, and in this case, St. Josephs Health System has 9000 workers in California and facilities in Texas and New Mexico.
So by refusing to participate in setting election ground rules at Santa Rosa Hospital so long as NUHW is involved, SEIU is prioritizing stopping NUHW at this one facility over securing employer neutrality in future elections. SEIU has made this decision even though avoiding negative campaigns could boost SEIU’s efforts to unionize over 10,000 St. Josephs workers in three states.
It was only months ago that SEIU held a press conference with the US Council of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Healthcare Association and other unions organizing in Catholic hospitals to avoid negative campaigns and ensure ground rules to govern future elections. But now that NUHW is involved, SEIU is abandoning a process it previously described at the time as a major step forward for unionizing health workers.
Once again, it appears that employers could get the last laugh.
They are truly the jealous and overpossessive paramour of the labor world, convinced that if people are not in SEIU, then they can't be in any union at all. That their actions benefit primarily management matters not at all to the Purple Plague.
How can anyone honestly defend SEIU's actions while wearing a straight face?
Monday, October 5, 2009
The backstory behind this filing is not just your basic "we hate SEIU, we want out" story. The workers at Centinela had, prior to the trusteeship, won an informal arbitration that was a trendsetter in the area. However, the Centinela management rejected the arbitrator's finding and demanded a formal arbitration, which was before the same arbitrator.
Workers at Centinela Hospital Medical Center have filed a petition to quit the scandal-plagued SEIU and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) instead, joining 1,600 workers at four other Southern California hospitals who petitioned on Sept. 24.
“As a union steward it’s always been my job to stand up for my co-workers and for good jobs in our community.” said Toni Rangel, a pharmacy technician at Centinela. “But SEIU has taken away our voice to do that. The only way we can protect our jobs and wages is to join the union we built, NUHW.”
Three months later, the Zombie scabs tried to get the Centinela workers to accept the management's "version" of the arbitration settlement. The rank-and-file forced an unwilling Zombie UHW back into arbitration, but UHW removed two members from the bargaining team that had won the settlement prior to the trusteeship. And so, when the undermanned Centinela bargaining team went back into arbitration, the arbitrator came down on the side of management.
Or so SEIU says - much like with KaiPerm, and much like the Sonoma County IHSS consortium, SEIU will not let anyone see what they agreed to on the workers' behalf. Instead, it was only management representatives that informed the workers what their wage scales had been "agreed" to be. The details of this travesty of "representation" can be found here.
Needless to say, the folks at Centinela are quite motivated to kick SEIU to the curb. The only question remaining now is whether or not SEIU will, once again, block the express wishes of the people it purports to represent.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
It seems that SEIU 1021 is none-too-pleased with Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, and have decided to put out a flyer illustrating their displeasure with Hizzoner...
So let's take a look at some of the claims being made by Plague 1021, and see if they stand up to scrutiny:
This is true. Concessions were made, depending on a "revenue" (read--> tax raise) measure being placed on the November 2009 ballot for the City and County of San Francisco.
Translation: "We depended on good actions of city Gubmint officials (acting as management) rather than actually getting those city Gubmint officials to agree to something concrete that can be contracturally enforced." Oops. Let's take a peek at the highlights of the most recent tentative agreement that SEIU signed, and what it has to say about this issue:
So, given the above, the flyer imaged above goes on to state...
Unfortunately, when making this flier, the nice folks at 1021 forgot that when this all was first boiling over, SEIU had to take three whacks at getting the TA language that would help the city solve its budget woes and "protect" their workers. Unfortunately for 1021, because they had to take multiple votes in order to get the correct outcome, the City and County of San Francisco had to go forward with a plan that would balance their budget in spite of 1021's concerns - and so they did, as detailed in an E-mail from Hizzoner's office to the SF Bay Guardian:
Haaland’s flier is indeed mostly lies. In the flier, Haaland spells Mayor Newsom’s name correctly, but that’s one of the last bits of accurate information you’ll find there.Now that's not to say that Hizzoner has covered himself in glory in this process. Still, it is astonishing that SEIU is going out of its way to make flyers against Newsom that are calculated to make him so angry that he was described as having "lost his shit," and as such eternally pissed off at someone who (at least for the next year or two) they are going to have to deal with across the negtiation table.
When writing about the layoffs, why don’t you publish the facts instead of relying on the utterly unreliable Haaland? Here they are.
We originally balanced the budget around the assumption of the SEIU tentative agreement. When the agreement was voted down, we were forced to propose further reductions to balance the budget. These reductions included the layoffs scheduled to take place on November 15. The position eliminations and conversions added to balance the budget following rejection of the tentative agreement totaled $11.5 million, including:
(snip to get past numerous mathematical details)
When faced with the tradeoff between eliminating positions outright and doing things that would allow employees to keep their jobs, we made a concerted effort to help people keep their jobs. We believed this was also the preference of the SEIU leadership and rank and file.
All of the 546 layoffs were included in the budget deliberated and approved by the Board. The City discussed these plans extensively at the time at Board of Supervisors budget hearings and multiple Health Commission meetings.
Although it was not made explicit with SEIU at the bargaining table that there would be additional CNA conversions or clerical layoffs forthcoming, it was made clear that the SEIU agreement, that was later ratified, would not prevent any future layoffs. During subsequent budget hearings, these layoffs scheduled for November 15th became the subject of clear policy debates and tradeoffs during the budget process.
The Board of Supervisors restored $40 million in spending. Instead of restoring CNAs and clerical positions, the Board opted to prioritize restoring other services including the Jail Health Prop J worth $6 million, ($12 million annualized); multiple security Prop J’s worth $6.8 million ($13.6 million annualized); and janitorial services Prop J worth $2.6 million ($5.2 million annualized). Many of these Prop J proposals would not have resulted in a layoff but would have allowed employees to keep their jobs performing other city functions, such as public health nurses performing other services within DPH rather than providing jail health services.
“He said ‘this is a lie,’ referring to the flier. “I don’t want to do anything to deal with the union. I hate Robert [SEIU organizer Robert Haaland]. What you’re doing now is hurting me .... I hate Robert. I don’t want to do anything for the union.”The above exchange evidently was hurtful enough to sufficient ears as to take the case to the California PERB, citing Hizzoner's statements as "intimidation and harrassment."
SEIU is not without complaint, but their complaint is without realistic merit, in that Newsom has not actively blocked any revenue measure from going to the ballot; instead, he failed to convince enough SF city councilcritters to agree to the measure, thus forcing the measure to be approved 67-33 rather than just by majority vote:
And the fact remains that Newsom promised the union that he would work toward a revenue measure, and then didn’t follow through. What he needed to do was convince the three supervisors he had personally appointed -- Sean Elsbernd, Carmen Chu and Michela Alioto -- that they should allow a November vote on revenue measures. If they’d gone along, the board would have been unanimous in agreeing to hold that election, and a revenue measure could have passed with a simple majority. Without the mayor’s three allies, thanks to oddities in state law, any tax measure would have needed a two-third vote.Again, SEIU was depending on the actions of management to follow through on convincing others to do things that would be ostensibly against their better political interest. And oh by the way, this also was not contracturally obligated of Newsom.
It has been known for well over a year that Gavin Newsom was running for the governorship of California. The fact that SEIU was unable (or unwilling) to pin Hizzoner down on such a point as to make it contracturally actionable should he not follow through lies not on Hizzoner but on the weak-ass negotiators hired and paid by SEIU 1021.
We all know what really happened here: Newsom is running for governor, and he doesn’t want to be known as a mayor who raised taxes. So he promised the union that he would do something that he was never going to do.
That’s what it all boils down to, and that’s why it’s fun to see Local 1021 call him on it -- and why it’s instructive to see how fragile the mayor is when he’s pushed. Mr Mayor, sir: It’s not going to get any easier if you make it to higher office.
Otter said it best: "You fu@&ed up - - you trusted us!"
Friday, October 2, 2009
I must add a couple of things to their bullet points:
- The wage increases were negotiated by the prior UHW administration - who is now NUHW.
- Health Insurance Benefits likewise were negotiated by the prior UHW administration.
- Direct Deposit is a minor thing that can be set up separately by your bank.
- SEIU-UHW did jack-shyte when it came to "defeating" the Governator's attempt to cut IHSS wages by $2 an hour. In fact it was NUHW who was more instrumental, especially in Sacramento County, as can be read here, and as can be seen below:
No matter. Who can argue with such a swanky piece of plastic such as THIS?
The UHW Identity Card - Don't Leave Home Without It!
Now, I would have to assume that such cards would only go out to those who are completely up-to-date with their dues payments, or even only those who have their dues deducted automatically.
The best part, though, is that they can limit these cards to "politically reliable" members. And when it comes time to vote on a contract, or when it comes time to vote on representation and decertification, they can look up at you and demand your "union ID card" prior to being allowed to cast your ballot.
Membership does indeed have its privileges.
Update from an alert reader: "Here is the backside. Note the disclaimer on the bottom, just in case a member is foolish enough to believe SEIU had offered them health benefits."
The North Bay Labor Council has had enough of this cynical tactic, and has sent Brave Sir Regan and Esquirol Medina a letter to let them know just how they feel:
Of special note is this passage on page #3:
Given Brave Sir Regan's disdain for labor councils which do not toe the SEIU party line, I have grave doubts that he will actually do as the NBLC, and the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital workers, have requested.
However, once again, SEIU has been given the choice on whether to act as a "brother" organization within a group of unions, or whether they will continue acting on their own accord while not heeding the well-formed advice of their labor colleagues.
The author of "uhwtrusteeship.blogspot.com" obviously has lived through the events prior to and during this trusteeship, and he has provided an outstanding and well-researched recitation of the events surrounding the destruction of a once-proud local.
Remember - this is being done to "save" jobs that SEIU actively bargained away to KaiPerm. The jobs that they will be "saving" will be part-time (instead of full-time) and will no longer have set schedules, and can be modified at any time by management based on "operational need."
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Once again, Zombie UHW has not released the text of the agreement to its affected members - it has taken NUHW representatives to put it out to the people, and the agreement can be accessed by clicking here.
It's not like this most recent "victory" on the part of the Plague will affect just those pharmacy employees that were pink-slipped - after all, this is SEIU, and SEIU doesn't play that way. No, friends and neighbors, this agreement will affect up to one-third of the entire Pharmacy staff of KPNC, and it will affect them in a way that the prior leadership of UHW did not allow KaiPerm to do back in the 2005 negotiations. I'll let NUHW explain:
- Up to a full third of the current benefitted Pharmacy employees will be affected by this change— many more employees will be affected than were given notice of job elimination.
- Current Full Time Employees may be required to take 24+ positions. When the Pharmacy is busy they will work their former full time schedule but when work is slow they can go down to 24 hours a week.
- Pharmacy workers will be required to travel to other facilities.
- Pharmacy workers will have their start times changed whenever it suits the Employer.
- On‐call employees won’t be needed as before because the benefitted workers have taken their place. Before, a part‐time employee could say no to additional hours—Not anymore.
- The agreement is full of loopholes and easy for Kaiser to interpret to its advantage and disputes are not subject to the grievance procedure but are sent to some Committee.
- How can benefitted workers make financial plans if they have no guaranteed hours?
- How can single parents plan for childcare?
- How can workers go to school?
Kaiser is in charge and we are being flexed. It’s not about the economy. Kaiser has wanted this for years and now SEIU has agreed to flex us. Even SEIU says Kaiser has no economic problems.
I, of course, have a different "F" word in mind for Zombie UHW...
Update on 10/4/09: The link to the Pharmacy agreement has now been updated to link to images of the actual signed document, so we can all see for ourselves who at KaiPerm (and who at SEIU's Zombie UHW unit) are more interested in giving us all the collective "F word."