Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Death and Taxes

It's been said that the only sure things in the world are Death and Taxes.

Well, to that list can be added the appeal of a close loser to an election before the NLRB...

Memorial Hospital administrators have filed objections to the recent election during which hospital employees voted to join National Union of Healthcare Workers, alleging that the union, union agents, and/or third parties negatively affected the election. Did articles published on contribute to a flawed election? Disclosure- This report involves allegations that may implicate the author of the report.

On Tuesday, December 29th, only 11 days after voting to unionize with National Union of Healthcare Workers, Memorial Hospital employees received an administration memo notifying them that the administration filed election objections with the National Labor Relations Board.

According to the memo, which was signed by the hospital's Vice President of Human Resources, the objections were filed because the administration was "concerned that NUHW's conduct during the weeks leading up to the vote created an atmosphere of confusion and fear," an atmosphere which "compromised our employees' rights and ultimately unlawfully affected the outcome of the vote."

The memo does not note if any hospital employees 1) expressed fear or confusion, 2) stated fear or confusion affected their vote, or 3) alleged that their rights were violated.

However, instead of including the objections in the memo, or sending the document containing the objections through email, the administration memo contained an italicized passage emphasizing that employees would have to log into the hospital's computer network to view a copy of the objections filed with the NLRB.

Employees who did so found a December 28th document titled "Employer's Objections to Conduct Affecting the Election."

While the hospital administration's memo to its employees limits its allegations to "NUHW's conduct," the December 28th document lists objections against the union, union agents and/or third parties, and even the National Labor Relations Board itself.

SRMH management is evidently protesting some of the video newsgathering conducted by Empire Report, as well as complaining about the "font" that the "no union" option was printed on with the ballots, e.g. the "no union" selection was significantly smaller than that for NUHW or Zombie UHW.

The only real effect this protest is going to have is to postpone the inevitable. Because of this filing, the disposition of the 17 challenged ballots will probably be put off indefinitely (the challenges filed at San Pablo Doctor's Hospital are still yet to be resolved), but NUHW has already achieved the tactical victory it needed over Zombie UHW going into the Kaiser SoCal election.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Zombie UHW Charm Offensive Rolls On...

From Tasty's place...
On Christmas Eve, Terri Fernandez, UHW Zombie and rep with a reported history of being aggressive towards members, was at Kaiser Sunset doing her job as rep-i.e. eating lunch in the cafeteria.

One of the Sunset RNs saw Terri's purple shirt and decided to introduce herself and say, "I'm one of the RNs and I pay your salary and I just thought you'd like to see the union that we're voting for." She then showed Terri a leaflet that had dozens of RNs pictured on it.

Terri was NOT amused by this and grabbed the leaflet and ripped it in half said "I don't want anything that you have. You're a thief."

Some other RNs attracted by the ruckus came over and they were also treated to the Fernandez warmth-Terri proceeded to stamp, point her fingers at both of them and repeat, "Thief, thief!"

The RN's, who remain unclear why their rep would call them thieves, turned to their Kaiser co-workers who are still waiting for a decert election from the board and pointed out that the lady in question was not an errant psych patient, but the woman who was supposed to represent them for the union.

Gotta love those Zombies.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Senate Rejects Andy's Lawyer for NLRB

It seems that the U.S. Senate does not think much of the prospect of Our Glorious Maximum Leader's in-house counsel to sit on the board of the NLRB, so much so that the Senate has returned Becker's nomination to the White House.

The Obama Administration will now either be forced to wait until the next session of the Senate to resubmit Becker's nomination, or they will have to use a controversial "recess appointment" in order to get Becker seated.

Stronger Together.

Go To The Source...

Much as Red Revolt was the source for the best info regarding the SRMH election, it's turning out now that Sternburger With Fries is turning out to be the place to go regarding the inside dope on what's going down with the SoCal Kaiser election.

Tasty's place has a story about what happens when SoCal KaiPerm nurses complain about Zombie UHW bugging them, as well as what a Zombie UHW organizer is "offering" to the KaiPerm nurses if they will just vote SEIU's way.

Check it out...

Kaiser Professionals - In Their Own Words

KaiPerm Professional workers from SoCal explain in this video why they are preparing to choose NUHW over Zombie UHW...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lost In The Turmoil

One item that came out last week has gotten little if any notice but has a direct relationship to one of Zombie UHW's proclaimed "victories" in bargaining.

It seems that the Alameda Hospital District may be looking to ask its staff to take some pay cuts - and instead of telling management (and everybody else) that a deal's a deal (like was told to the KaiPerm Pharmacy staff recently), the Zombies announced that they would be "willing to talk to management."

Now, SEIU crowed about the raises given the Alameda workers, but they neglected to brag about the fact that those workers are now, for the very first time in recent Bay Area healthcare history, being asked to assume a substantial amount of their health care insurance benefit.

It looks like those raises are now back on the table and subject to negotiation (downward), and the Alameda workers will still have to shell out for their health care coverage.

Stronger Together.

SRMH - Post-Election Discussion

The press and the blogosphere is beginning to realize and to document the EPIC level of FAIL demonstrated by SEIU and Zombie UHW in the Santa Rosa election...

"The result was a crushing defeat for the SEIU..." according to the Los Angeles Times.

"NUHW is Decisive in Santa Rosa, SEIU Tries to Postpone Defeat" per Labor Notes.

The article in the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat had this quote from Zombie UHW:
Adriana Surfas, an official with SEIU-UHW, said of the vote, “We are disappointed, and we wish the Santa Rosa workers well.”
Much like Forrest Gump, that's about all they gotta say about that.

Randy Shaw at BeyondChron has weighed in, and in the article SEIU is laid low...
After a relentless campaign attacking NUHW, its staff, and its very right to call itself a union, SEIU lost 283-13 among workers desiring a union. It’s going to take a heckuva spinmeister for SEIU to explain to workers in other hospitals why they should trust SEIU over NUHW when those at SRMH clearly did not.

SEIU’s brand is badly tarnished in California, both from its fight against NUHW and its failed struggle against UNITE HERE. The union has alienated multiple local labor councils, threatened John Burton (the state’s leading progressive and union hero), and is burning bridges with the religious community.

SEIU paid a steep price for its all-out campaign in Santa Rosa, and should have withdrawn from the election months ago, as many urged. Now, it has undermined its ability to compete against NUHW for the nearly 9000 other non-union workers in the St. Joseph's Health System chain, and will be under statewide pressure to withdraw from contesting NUHW's organizing rights in these facilities.

How does a union spend that much money, using messaging produced by the highly regarded San Francisco-based BMW political consulting firm, only win 2% of the total vote? And only 2% despite multiple attack pieces on NUHW, while the victorious union only could afford a single glossy leaflet during election week (the NUHW piece was designed at no cost by San Francisco political consultant Eric Jaye, and explained why workers needed a union and only referenced SEIU as a purple grinch in the corner)?

NUHW spokesperson Jon Borsos thinks he has the answer. He described NUHW’s win as a “tremendous victory for democratic unionism, as health care workers stood up to corporate health care and to corporate unionism.” Longtime SRMH union supporter Nancy Timberlake echoed Borsos, adding “to win against a behemoth like SEIU and our employer’s own anti-union campaign is true vindication and a true miracle.”

Tis the season for miracles, something SEIU also overlooked when it successfully delayed the election until a week before Christmas.
This election may well be having downstream consequences down at KaiPerm in SoCal as well, according to Tasty...
Sources report that very high level SEIU staffers in DC are saying that SEIU is going to lose the Kaiser Pro election.

Behind the scenes the word is, "...there is no way to win this election. The workers simply won't talk to us."

Tasty doesn't know if that is true, but it seems like DC doesn't have much confidence in the Trusteeship Team.
Now it's on to SoCal Kaiser...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

SRMH - Numbers and Scenarios

And now it's time to crunch the numbers.

As it stands right now, 283 votes were cast for NUHW, 13 for Zombie UHW, and 263 for neither. If that result were to stand, the NUHW wins an absolute majority at 50.62% of the total votes cast.

Unfortunately, this is not currently the case, because there are 17 ballots that stand at challenge. Those 17 ballots cannot by themselves make NUHW lose the election, but they can prevent NUHW from avoiding a runoff, and as such they can also prevent any results from being certified by the NLRB.

So let's look at those 17 ballots, and what permutations can be derived out of them. The first and easiest scenario - all 17 ballots being rejected - results in an outright NUHW victory with the percentages stated above.

The next scenario - all 17 ballots being included in the voting pool - raises the total votes cast to 576, of which 283 have already been cast for NUHW. In order to prevail in that scenario, all NUHW would have to achieve is 6 votes out of those 17 challenged votes cast (roughly 35%); by the same token, in order to force runoff, the "no union" slate has to get 12 out of the 17 challenged votes (70.5%).

There are multiple additional scenarios possible regarding those challenged ballots if only part of them are added, etc. All in all, though, the numbers would suggest that NUHW has prevailed in this fight - the only thing that remains now is to determine whether or not either Zombie UHW or SRMH management will concede the defeat handed them last night.

Video Coverage From SRMH Vote

The Empire Report has been all over the SRMH election fight, and now has an excellent compilation of video coverage from last night's results at SRMH...

First up is an announcement of the "unofficial" vote count...

Next is an announcement from John Borsos, indicating that SEIU has unilaterally decided to prevent the certification (but if they didn't, then management would)...

Next is one of the NUHW organizers explaining some of the upcoming technical challenges toward getting this count certified and completed...

There are additional reactions that can be seen either at Empire Report or by clicking directly into the Empire Report's YouTube channel.

Friday, December 18, 2009

SRMH Election Update

From Sadie Crabtree at NUHW...
Memorial workers vote to join NUHW after six-year struggle

Caregivers reject a rival organization that stood in their way

Santa Rosa, Calif.—Caregivers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital voted to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) today in an election victory that caps their six-year struggle to win a voice at work.

"We are all so excited to finally have a voice to make our hospital a better place to work and better for our community," said Nancy Timberlake, a telemetry technician at the hospital. "We stuck together for six years and we finally did it. I'm so relieved and so happy that we won."

The vote was 283 for NUHW, 263 for No Union, and only 13 for SEIU, a rival organization that tried to interfere in the election. Despite SEIU's devastating loss, as of 7:00 p.m. Friday night they were still trying to stop the labor board from certifying the results. Seventeen ballots were cast by workers not on the board's list of eligible voters, and SEIU wants those ballots counted in the hopes there will be enough "No Union" votes to trigger a runoff.

The workers' effort drew national attention last year after political leaders and religious leaders rallied with caregivers at the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, the founding order of St. Joseph Health System, which owns Memorial. Under pressure from the community, hospital administration agreed to negotiate with workers' representatives to establish ground rules for a free and fair union election.

This April, a majority of Memorial caregivers petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for an election to join NUHW. But the election was delayed for more than five months because of frivolous "blocking charges" filed by SEIU, the rival organization. When the labor board rejected those charges, SEIU demanded a spot on the ballot and blocked negotiations over ground rules—giving hospital management a free hand to mount an aggressive anti-union campaign.

SEIU ignored appeals from religious leaders, the North Bay Labor Council, and even former Labor Secretary Robert Reich to negotiate ground rules. Despite having virtually no support at Memorial Hospital caregivers, SEIU bombarded workers with dozens of mailers and visited them constantly at home and at work, urging them not to vote for NUHW.

NUHW filed charges with the labor board on Wednesday, after workers alleged that hospital administrators broke the law by engaging in illegal surveillance of union supporters, threatening and disciplining union activists, and giving SEIU staff unfair access to caregivers at work so they could campaign against the union.

"It was really transparent what SEIU was doing," said Melissa Bosanco, a Care Partner at the hospital. "It was like they were management's anti-union team. They wanted us to fail. But we saw through it and stuck together in NUHW."

Next month, more than 2,300 Kaiser Permanente professionals in Southern California will vote to quit SEIU and join NUHW. In all, a majority of 100,000 workers at 360 facilities across California have petitioned to join NUHW and are waiting for similar elections.
Again - NUHW puts out the particulars on the vote, unlike SEIU who never does. The only question right now is whether or not SEIU will allow the challenged ballots to be fully and fairly judged.

More as it comes in...

There's a New Joke Going Around...

Have ya heard it?

"What did the five fingers say to the face?"

Zombie UHW: "What?"


Vote tally thus far, as of 7:30 p.m.

NUHW: 283
No Union: 263
Zombie UHW:

No, folks, that is not a mistype - after all those slick mailers and dues dollars poured into the org fight, the Purple Plague got a grand total of 13 votes.

According to on-site sources, Zombie UHW is unwilling to resolve the issues of challenge ballots this evening, so there may not be a final tally until some time tomorrow - or even possibly early next week. Updates will be provided as they come in.

In the meantime - SEIU's 747 (assisted by a pro-SEIU hospital management team) just finished third with an anvil to a broken-down Citroen with no back wheels.

"Stronger Together..."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Let's Get It Done!

To my readers at SRMH: Send a message to St. Joseph Health Systems, to SEIU and Zombie UHW, and to your colleagues at other SJHS facilities, and send a big-time message to the labor world in general.

Make your voices heard, make your decision clear. We're with you.

Until Friday...

Here Comes The Flood

All of a sudden, all sorts of people are reporting on the Great California Union Foodfight.

First up is Labor Notes, who gives a pretty bare-bone rundown of the Santa Rosa issue, but then gets in some good jabs at Zombie UHW in reference to their "representation" of Kaiser employees...

NUHW supporters are preparing for an election at Kaiser next month. Three bargaining units in Southern California, including nurses at Kaiser’s Los Angeles Medical Center complex and psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, dieticians, speech pathologists, and other professionals at 100 facilities across the region, will choose between SEIU and NUHW. Nurses will vote on-site January 6 and 7, with ballots mailed to the 1,300 other professionals on January 4. Votes will be counted January 26.

Jim Clifford, a therapist at a clinic in Otay, says SEIU’s removal of elected stewards and worksite leaders left members hamstrung, whether trying to stand up to unfair discipline or to share Kaiser’s use of electronic medical records.

“At the start of the trusteeship we couldn’t figure out what phone number to dial to get an SEIU staff representative who could work with us,” he said. “We’ve got grievances from January going nowhere.”
David Mallon, a psychiatric social worker at the Bellflower medical center, said, “Kaiser is running amok. They have shut down the performance sharing bonus program, we aren’t participating in program development anymore, and now there is incredible pressure to increase workloads.

“How are you going squeeze more time in today to see patients and still do the documentation, which has become more and more detailed?”

Cuts to the Kaiser pension plan have also sparked member dissatisfaction. Earlier this year SEIU, along with other Kaiser unions, agreed to cut lump-sum pensions by as much as 15 percent starting December 1. The cuts were a response to the sagging stock market, but there are no plans yet to restore pensions in light of the stock market rebound or Kaiser’s $1.6 billion profit in the nine months of 2009. More than three-quarters of Kaiser retirees take the lump-sum pension.

Meanwhile SEIU says it will block the professional staff from participating in the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions if they vote to join NUHW. The coalition was created to coordinate bargaining with Kaiser as well as oversee union participation in Kaiser’s labor-management partnership.


Since its narrow loss to SEIU in a homecare workers’ election in June, NUHW has made strides recruiting allies. The strong showing in Fresno convinced many outside California of NUHW’s viability.

At the same time, SEIU’s escalating battle with the hotel union UNITE HERE has pushed NUHW and UNITE HERE closer together.

UNITE HERE locals in California dispatched organizers to the Fresno campaign, provided office space and material aid, and assembled nearly two dozen Cantonese-speaking lost-time member-organizers to assist NUHW’s San Francisco homecare drive this summer. More recently, UNITE HERE sent organizers to help in Santa Rosa.

In retaliation, the trustees running UHW threatened to withdraw the 150,000-member local from the San Francisco Labor Council, which is headed by a UNITE HERE local president. That threat united many Bay Area labor leaders behind UNITE HERE and NUHW.

This fall the North Bay Central Labor Council also lined up with NUHW in its drive at Santa Rosa. The council asked SEIU to withdraw from the election since “it is clear that Memorial workers have chosen NUHW as their union.”

SEIU has also pushed unions in Southern California closer to NUHW, most notably by attacking a November 17 public forum held at the United Teachers-Los Angeles hall. Attendees were pelted with water bottles and eggs by SEIU staff and members protesting the event.



Looming large in 2010 is the Kaiser Permanente health system, representing a third of UHW’s membership and a standard-setter for union hospitals across California. NUHW looks to capitalize on SEIU’s acceptance of unprecedented mid-contract concessions. Trustees agreed to 1,300 layoffs in August, despite a no-layoffs clause in the contract. Kept from a vote over the job cuts, Kaiser workers are fuming.

“They are making a circus of our contract,” said Cindy Benko, a 19-year pharmacy tech in Stockton. “They don’t know which end is up. Kaiser should be paying them union dues, not the members, because that is who SEIU is working for.”

Benko thinks the loss of workplace control under the trusteeship is swinging support to NUHW.

“Most people wanted to believe it was just the leaders who changed, that it would still be the same union,” she said. “But no one can deny the damage SEIU has done. This is what our future looks like if we don’t get our union back.”

Also getting into the act are Bill Fletcher and (finally) Nelson Lichtenstein in an article in In These Times entitled "SEIU's Civil War." It's a pretty lengthy expose of Our Glorious Maximum Leader's rise and (probable) fall in the U.S. Labor movement, and views SEIU as more of a Cult of Personality rather than a functional, dynamic, representational union...

Assessing what to make of NUHW and its potential is, at this time, a matter for speculation. Despite having pitifully few resources, the new union is capable of winning. In the NUHW’s key jurisdictions, particularly Kaiser Permanente, it is quite conceivable that they will overwhelm the SEIU’s imported and maladroit leadership.

This is true for at least three reasons. One, the former UHW has a very capable steward’s system and member involvement at Kaiser. Two, the trusteeship is an affront to thousands of staunch unionists and their allies in California where NUHW has won the backing of some prominent liberal politicians and many key unions, including San Francisco’s big hotel local.

Three, many among the SEIU staff, imported to California or back in the East and Midwest, are demoralized and do not see NUHW as a true enemy. Thus, if the NUHW can win just a few NLRB certification elections and restart the dues flow, then it will have sufficient resources to hire key staff, “organize” among a wider group of workers, and prevail in California over the still alien group of leaders imported into the state by SEIU. Recent NUHW victories at Los Alamitos Medical Center in Southern California and at an assisted living facility in the Portola Valley indicate that this strategy may be working. There is no reason, short of resources, that NUHW cannot prevail, irrespective of whether they choose to return to a reformed SEIU.

Translation: Tide...turning.

Next up is an article in the E-zine for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, "Catholic San Francisco", which looks at labor relations in Catholic hospitals through the lens of the six-year fight at SRMH which is about to come to a head tomorrow...
The Santa Rosa Memorial campaign achieved one of its long-term goals when, in 2008, the St. Joseph Health System agreed to discuss election ground rules, according to NUHW. That October, union organizers at the hospital began gathering workers’ signatures in support of an election. By January, they had enough names to put the question of unionization to a vote.

However, in late January the effort was set back when the SEIU placed the West Coast organization in trusteeship. That action, and the SEIU’s later intervention in the election sought by the new union, halted the progress that workers had been making toward negotiating ground rules, Timberlake said.

“The irony of the whole thing is the employer said they would not sit down with us,” Timberlake said. “They would only discuss ground rules with both unions.”

The employer had agreed to negotiate guidelines with any union that showed it had standing to represent employees.

“There were two unions that demonstrated a show of standing,” Kevin Andrus, a spokesman for the St. Joseph Health System, said. “We agreed that we would sit down with both of those unions and work out guidelines between the three of us. The SEIU refused to meet with us and the NUHW and thus we were not able to negotiate.”

As always, read the rest.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Return Of Brave Sir Regan

Brave Sir Regan ran away.
Bravely ran away, away!
When losing reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.

Yes, brave Sir Regan turned about
And gallantly he chickened out.
Bravely taking to his feet,
Zombie UHW beat a very brave retreat...
In a report in today's BeyondChron, Randy Shaw writes that Zombie UHW wanted to punk out of the SRMH fight, but SEIU International has told them to stay in the fight, primarily so that they can keep standing to help spread the anti-NUHW venom...
SRMH workers begin casting ballots Thursday, with votes tabulated Friday night. The outcome hinges on whether the massive anti-union campaign jointly waged by SEIU and management convinces enough workers to reject the demonstrable financial benefits and increased job security that comes with joining a union.

As I recently wrote, SEIU’s Santa Rosa campaign has been almost entirely a massive attack on NUHW. SEIU has combined full-page newspaper ads, mailers, and flyers with an estimated forty organizers on the ground this week – most wearing yellow t-shirts with slogans attacking NUHW – to prevent an NUHW victory.

SEIU even scheduled a statewide rank and file training for Petaluma to coincide with the SRMH election. It brought about 400 workers to a rally in front of SRMH, but they made no effort to meet with SRMH workers or to persuade anyone to vote for SEIU.

SEIU’s weak support among workers apparently led it to ask the NLRB last Thursday about the process for removing its name from the ballot. This would prevent SEIU from suffering an embarrassing third place finish, but had two potential downsides.

First, it would prevent SEIU from bashing NUHW during the crucial final week.

Second, since management had agreed to fair election ground rules so long as all parties to the election did likewise (SEIU had refused), SEIU’s departure would also prevent management from engaging in anti-union conduct in the lead-up to the election.

After rumors spread that SEIU was leaving the contest, its local officials were reportedly overruled by SEIU staff in Washington DC on Friday morning, though the cause of SEIU’s reversal cannot be confirmed.
The vaunted strength of SEIU is proving of late to be somewhat of a ceramic veneer - tough and polished on the outside, but once cracked it is next to useless.

"Stronger Together*" indeed.

It seems now that the only hope SEIU has of saving face is for them to continue to assist the SRMH management in so totally muddying the waters as to generate a 50% no-union vote.

*(with management)

SRMH Going Down Swinging

It seems the management at SRMH really, really doesn't want a union in there. See the Empire Report for details...

SoCal KaiPerm Election Dates Announced

From a NUHW E-mail...
On Monday, January 4 the NLRB will mail ballots to members of the Psychsocial Chapter and the Healthcare Professionals Chapter. The AFN-RN unit will vote at Kaiser LAMC on January 6 and 7, 2010. This is our election and our chance to put Kaiser professionals in charge of our contract and our future.

In NUHW, we'll have a voice again to solve problems and work together on our professional practice issues. We'll vote on our stewards, our bargaining teams, and our contracts again.

In contrast, SEIU has done everything in their power to stop us from voting. Just last week, SEIU filed a new motion to stop our election. Despite SEIU's efforts our election is now set.

We want to share a letter from Dr. Winnie Allen, one of the very first members of the Kaiser Psychsocial Chapter. Dr. Allen helped organize our Chapter in 1975, and shares her perspective on how our chapters have historically led the way in Kaiser, including being the first to develop the tools of the LMP. Click here to read her letter and share it with your co-workers.

We are excited that we have a date to take back our union. When you get your ballot in the mail, it will come to your home. We enthusiastically encourage you to fill it out and send it back. This will be a vote for unity, integrity and democracy in our union at Kaiser. Our vote is for NUHW.
The letter referred to in the E-mail above reads as follows...
My Fellow Professional Chapter colleagues:

My name is Winnie Allen. I have been a steward and a member of the Kaiser Psychsocial Chapter since we organized our union in 1975, becoming the first union in the country for professional workers.

I strongly endorse our chapter’s certification of NUHW as our future union. We are on the threshold of an historic event. Soon, we will participate in a federally sanctioned vote conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. That vote will determine what kind of union we will be part of: SEIU, the union that has imposed a trusteeship and eliminated all membership rights and structure, or NUHW, our union that actively seeks our input and participation on how to move forward on labor issues critical to us. Our choice will have a sweeping and positive influence not just throughout Kaiser, but throughout the entire labor movement.

As clear as this choice is for me, I am aware that SEIU is trying to create doubt and fear among many of us. They have said that when we choose NUHW, we won't be "big enough" to negotiate successfully with Kaiser for the wages, working conditions, and level of participation in the Partnership that we want. Let me diminish that fear by sharing some bargaining history from the Kaiser Psychsocial Chapter.

Over the past 25 years, our chapter bargained its contracts with Kaiser approximately every three years. I know this because I was on many of those bargaining taskforces. In the 1990s, it was our Psychsocial unit that introduced the partnership tools of issue resolution, consensus decision, and interest-based problem solving into the bargaining process.

This was years before the first National Agreement enshrined the tools of partnership, long before the Coalition even came into existence, and long before partnership was universally desired by KP and the unions. The LMP that our chapter spearheaded in our contracts became the basis of the major goal of the first National Agreement.

We have long led the way in making Kaiser a better place to work—not because of SEIU, but because our chapters have always had the autonomy and democracy to make our voices heard. Joining NUHW will continue that tradition and keep our chapters strong.

Please join me in voting for NUHW.

Winnie Allen, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Kaiser Watts and Kaiser Sunset
Thank you, Dr. Allen.

LMP should be bigger than Andy's ego - this upcoming vote in January is certain to put that concept to the test.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Strength In Numbers

The best part about having co-bloggers SternBurger With Fries and Red Revolt on the case is that when things are slow around here, the other two usually will have some nice fresh material, and that's certainly the case today.

Over at SternBurger, we have Our Glorious Maximum Leader's minions channeling their inner Marie Antoinette, and also there is a report from a former UHW staff rep who spent some time organizing in Africa after the trusteeship, and has returned in the wake of the NLRB decision to assist in the Kaiser org effort down in SoCal.

Keyser over at Red Revolt, meanwhile, has an outstanding compare-and-contrast session between a Zombie flyer and a NUHW flyer, as well as a man-on-the-street report from the recent Zombie "protest" at SRMH in which they brag on bringing out 250 people, none of whom were SRMH employees.

Happy surfing, everyone.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SEIU Threatens To Dissolve CKPU

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions is the group of unions that, along with KP management, make up the Labor-Management Partnership which was so instrumental in bringing KP up out of the ashes of the strikes in the late 1980's. SEIU is evidently so afraid of losing its monopoly position within KP that they are threatening to sunder the entire coalition, rather than to admit NUHW as a member in that coalition...
Now facing an election they spent millions of dollars to block, SEIU officials are circulating an email threatening to break up the Kaiser Coalition if the professional chapters vote to maintain their autonomy by joining NUHW.

Their threat is nothing but a last-ditch effort by Washington, D.C. officials who prioritize their own personal power over the needs of healthcare workers like us. And that's exactly why we chose NUHW.

SEIU knows that when Kaiser professionals join NUHW, the rest of the Kaiser employees will follow, because our chapters have always led the way in achieving the highest wages and benefits. We will continue the rich history of our chapters in NUHW with the people who have been working with us side-by-side on our professional practice issues for years.

In less than a year since SEIU took over, they've given away part of Kaiser workers' pension, agreed to eliminate 1,800 jobs, and gutted the Labor/Management Partnership by removing virtually all of the elected stewards and other members who served on LMP committees.

We're voting NUHW to put an end to these divisive tactics, protect our wages and benefits and our April wage increase, and restore democracy and integrity to our union. We won't let SEIU keep tearing down our contract and we won't let them break apart the Coalition.
One of the members of the SoCal KP units wrote a letter to the Executive Director of the CKPU regarding SEIU's threat...
Mr. August,

I am a Kaiser employee, Clinical Psychologist, and currently a UHW member. I have been very involved in LMP as a UBT member both locally and regionally, LMP co-lead, and trained LMP facilitator, and highly value the LMP process. I received your statement today from the CKPU regarding membership to CKPU and participation in LMP.

Firstly let me say that I have always respected your work with Kaiser and LMP. You have done wonderful things in the past to bring employees and managers together to discuss ways to make Kaiser the best place it can be for our health plan members and for employees.

Today however I am very disappointed with your statement and decision. I certainly do understand that Andy Stern is the head of CKPU and you are under his employ, and as such are in a difficult position to follow his demands or lose your job.

You should know that we as members ARE supporting NUHW and WILL win our decertification vote because we have been very disappointed with the direction Andy Stern and the UHW trustees have taken our union and do not agree with their policies, corporate unionism, and back-door deals with management.

I am very disturbed that you do not support our members' right to determine which union we want to represent us. You are threatening that if we choose NUHW through a federal legal process, exercising our rights, that you will not allow us to be part of CKPU or LMP.

Is not a union made up of it members and members voices? Is not unionism a democratic process where we as members have a right to take their union in the direction we feel is best for us and for those we serve? Does not LMP consist of union members (no matter which union) working together with management for the good of all?

I just don't understand how banning NUHW from participation does anyone any good. It does not benefit CKPU, LMP, Kaiser, or any of the other unions in the coalition. It is simply one more of Mr. Stern's scare tactics to not lose his union members.

As of today I have lost all respect for you and see now that you are simply a puppet in Mr. Stern's hands to manipulate and carry out his agenda within Kaiser. I don't think you understand that you are dealing with intelligent, highly educated professionals within these three professional bargaining units, who are not going to be fooled by SEIU (and now CKPU) propaganda and will not fall to your threats.

Charlie Morgan, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Kaiser Permanente San Diego
Should you wish to amend Charlie's excellent letter, Mr. August can be contacted by E-mail at "".

NUHW's Q&A Response...

In the light of the recent Q&A document put out by SEIU, the NUHW folks have put out their own Q&A document, which basically takes the SEIU document and grinds it to dust...

Q: What choices will be on the ballot?

There will be three choices on the ballot: SEIU-UHW, NUHW, or No Union. Whichever of the three receives 50% + 1 of the actual votes cast will win the election. If there is no clear majority, there will be a run off between the two highest vote getters.

Q: What happens to our contract when we change unions?

All of the wages, benefits, and other provisions of the contract stay in place until we negotiate a new contract. The NLRB ruled in 2001 that when workers change unions current wages, scheduled contract wage increases and current benefits continue. If we don’t change unions, SEIU-UHW can continue trading away our jobs and benefits and we’ll have no right to vote on changes, as they did with the pension reductions and layoffs.

Q: What will dues be in NUHW?

Our dues will be 25% lower than they were in SEIU-UHW. At NUHW’s founding convention, our professional chapter representatives, along with other delegates voted to reduce our dues since we would no longer be sending part of our dues to SEIU in Washington, D.C.

Q: I read a Q&A written by a law firm that claimed we’ll lose money if we choose NUHW. Are they being truthful?

No. It is a total fabrication. Our existing wages, scheduled wage increases and existing benefits remain intact. Under the law there can be no changes unless we and Kaiser agree to any changes. SEIU’s pamphlet was written by the same attorneys who used legal tricks with the labor board to hold up our election for nine months. The NLRB just ruled that none of SEIU’s charges were valid. SEIU’s attorneys carefully worded the pamphlet to mislead us and create as much fear as possible.

Q: SEIU says Kaiser can change our wages if bargaining reaches an “impasse.” Is that true?

In the more than 25 years of bargaining with Kaiser, the professional chapters have never reached impasse. It is an insult to every one of us for SEIU-UHW to imply that the strongest units at Kaiser could fail to bargain a contract when we have successfully negotiated the best contracts with the same experienced NUHW negotiators and professional chapter leaders on our side.

Futhermore, a “lawful impasse” is a rare situation that can only be certified by the NLRB, and it requires that the employer has bargained in good faith.

Q: When do we start bargaining with Kaiser?

After we elect a rank-and-file bargaining team and meet with the membership to determine improvements we want to make. We will develop proposals and then notify Kaiser that we’re ready to start bargaining.

Q: Do we need a big Union to protect our contract?

SEIU didn’t win our contract. We did. We won together in Local 535, and we won in UHW until the trusteeship, because professional chapter leaders and members were in control. It’s always been about our power and our strength.

By contrast, since SEIU has taken over UHW, they have begun to gut our contract, by removing our elected stewards without a vote, giving away part of our retirement package against our will and without our knowledge, and made a backroom deal to lay off 1,800 of our co-workers. We cannot trust them with our contract.

In NUHW we’ll protect our wages and benefits just like we always have.

Q: What has SEIU done to our pension since they took over in January?

SEIU made a deal with Kaiser to cut our pension, forcing many workers to retire early. SEIU didn’t let us vote on whether we wanted to give up our benefits. Kaiser’s justification was that the stock market had dropped below 8,000, lowering the pension funds’ value. Now the market is back up to 10,400, but SEIU didn’t ask for any reinstatement of benefits when the market recovered. Joining NUHW is the only way to stop SEIU from making more deals like that.

Q: What has SEIU done to our job security since they took over in January?

SEIU eroded our job security rights by negotiating a lay-off agreement with Kaiser behind our backs. They allowed Kaiser to terminate on-calls instead of laying them off with recall rights, allowed Kaiser to move employees within 45 miles of their worksite or face termination, and allowed Kaiser to reduce the health insurance benefits of the employees taking severance. SEIU did not let workers vote before they signed this deal with Kaiser. They even denied the deal existed until NUHW got a copy and shared it with workers.

Q: Is it true that we could end up with no union?

The three options on the ballot are NUHW, SEIU, and No Union, and if there’s no clear majority then there will be a run-off between the top two. The only way we’ll have no union is if a majority of us – 50% plus 1 of those who vote — decide we don’t want a union.

Q: How do we know NUHW will be better than SEIU?

Because we are NUHW. Nearly 100% of the Professional Chapter leadership and officers who have worked side by side with the professionals for the past 25+ years, all support NUHW. Our union is not about the name, it is the people, their vision and commitment. We elect our stewards, bargaining teams, and union officers, and we vote on every agreement with Kaiser. SEIU-UHW has no constitution to protect member’s rights—SEIU officials can agree to anything and they don’t have to let us vote. NUHW is led by the same healthcare workers and experienced negotiators who won current our contract.

Q: What about the rest of Kaiser’s 50,000 union members?

A majority of all Kaiser workers chose NUHW in March, but SEIU delayed their elections with the labor board. Kaiser workers in other units are circulating a petition to join us in NUHW next summer.

Q: Why did SEIU officials from Washington, D.C. take over our union and remove the people we elected?

SEIU ordered our elected leaders to force 65,000 long-term care workers that worked in Northern California into the Southern California Homecare Workers Union, Local 6434, without a vote.

We said that we would only support the move if: 1. The workers got to vote on what union they were part of, and 2. Kaiser professionals and other healthcare workers would always have a direct voice in negotiations with employers, with no backroom deals by SEIU.

SEIU would not accept those terms, and our union was put in trusteeship because our leaders refused to give up our right to vote and our right to negotiate with employers openly and transparently.

To cover up for their actions, SEIU has repeatedly claimed that our local union stole an ever-changing amount of money—sometimes $6 million, sometimes $3 million, and most recently $500,000. No money was stolen.

The best way to face misinformation is to confront it with a serious dose of truth, and we get it here in spades.

Fred Ross to SEIU and SJHS: "What're Ya Afraid Of?"

Fred Ross penned an open letter to the workers of SRMH this morning, and it is deserving of a full and complete read...
I met some of you for the first time in December 2004 at a rally with United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, when she joined your call for St. Joseph Health System (SJHS) to negotiate ground rules for a free and fair election process. For the next four years, as an SEIU international organizer, I worked with you to build a powerful campaign that, by the fall of 2008, had convinced SJHS to sit down and negotiate.

But in March 2009, after ten years, I decided to leave SEIU. The tipping point came when I learned in February that the international union had decided in August 2008 to withdraw support for your campaign. This was at a critical moment. We had conducted our week of action in Orange County in July of that year at the SJHS motherhouse, and won unprecedented national publicity.

How did I find out that SEIU had withdrawn support for you when you needed it most? Last February, SEIU leaders from Washington took over its California healthcare local, SEIU-UHW. The campaign was suspended. Days later, over 200 SRMH workers were informed of impending layoffs. I offered to fight the layoffs alongside an experienced organizer who had spent two years on the campaign. However, this organizer was told by the new SEIU-UHW leadership, installed by Andy Stern, that SRMH workers were no longer a priority.

Several days later, a national leader of SEIU told me that SEIU could probably get a free and fair election agreement from SJHS by that June. I was shocked by what he admitted next: that the international union made a decision in August 2008 no longer to support workers at SJHS or put pressure on the system, because they did not want you to have the opportunity to vote for a union led by Sal Rosselli. SEIU broke faith and trust with you by deserting you when you most relied on them. This misconduct seriously undermined the opportunity you had to win a fair election agreement with SJHS in the fall of 2008.

Later in February, the international union learned that many of you had decided to form a union with NUHW. SEIU made a last-ditch appeal that I lead a campaign to win your trust. Because of SEIU’s breach of faith, I could no longer represent SEIU in good conscience.

I was disappointed but not surprised when SEIU rejected the offer of former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and Monsignor Brenkle to mediate a fair election agreement, while NUHW accepted. Both SEIU and SJHS fear that if you have a free and fair election process – with no intimidation, retaliation, or negative campaigning – you will vote your conscience and select NUHW: the union whose leaders have stood by you for the past six years. SEIU’s actions have had the effect of encouraging SJHS to mount a very aggressive anti-union campaign.
I suppose none of this is any great secret, except for the acknowledgement that it always was SEIU's intent to undermine any advancements that may accrue to the benefit of UHW while Sal Rosselli was still in charge. This puts to the lie all of SEIU's propaganda in the months leading up to the Marshall hearings when they would proclaim to everyone who would listen that it was not their intent to break up UHW, when it was perfectly clear that is absolutely what SEIU's intent was. Mr. Ross then goes on to describe SEIU's track record of late...
SEIU has raised the issue of track record, so it is only fair to review its own recent track record. SEIU President Andy Stern is currently embroiled in costly, divisive battles on several fronts. He is waging a union-busting campaign against the union representing his own employees; he is fighting and raiding his former ally, UNITE HERE.

SEIU is bogged down in conflicts of its own making at a time when the labor movement has a once in a lifetime opportunity to make historic gains with the Obama Administration and a Democratic Congress. And now the labor movement is being tarnished, as numerous Stern protégés and appointees have been forced to resign amidst charges of rampant corruption.

Sadly, SEIU has chosen war with the former leaders of one of the most vibrant and successful healthcare unions in the country. Dissent has become equated with disloyalty.

SEIU – once the fastest growing union in the United States – has hit a wall. It has abandoned organizing campaigns at five major health systems around the country, after spending tens of millions of dollars, leaving pro-union activists vulnerable to management retaliation.
But ask Andy, and he'll tell you he's always about looking out for the common worker, right? Mr. Ross then goes on to describe what happens to those who deviate from The Purple Script...
Across California, prominent local leaders are joining in support of NUHW, because they know this California-based and member-led union will fight the hardest for healthcare workers. Stern’s trustee for SEIU-UHW, Dave Regan, has failed in his attempt to threaten and coerce Local 2 UNITE HERE! President Mike Casey into withdrawing his support for NUHW.

When SEIU tried the same bullying tactics on John Burton, California Democratic Party Chair and legendary champion of working people, it backfired. Burton publicly supported the character, integrity and leadership of Sal Rosselli. But SEIU reached a new low when it resorted to physical violence against the Vice President of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) and other labor supporters of NUHW at a recent event in Los Angeles.

Not surprisingly, significant numbers of very talented staff have left SEIU. This represents a talent and idealism drain in the union that once was a beacon for idealistic young people.
Mr. Ross then closes with a very clear and concise description of the choice that lays ahead for our (future) colleagues at SRMH...
The danger, of course, is that your co-workers become discouraged and vote for neither union. It has been 39 years since I went to Delano to work for Cesar Chavez. I helped organize the successful campaign to defeat the all-powerful Teamsters in the 1970s.

Today you have an historic opportunity to cast your vote for NUHW, whose leaders have a long and proud track record of building a member driven union that has won voice in patient care, respect, and the highest benefits of any healthcare union west of the Mississippi. NUHW is organized and led by the people you know and trust. Workers in over 80 healthcare facilities and systems in California are in the process of joining NUHW because they want a union that they control themselves.

Keep your eyes on the prize. You can withstand SJHS’s anti-union campaign. You will overcome SEIU’s campaign of smear, fear and futility. By voting for NUHW, Memorial Employees will have the voice you need and deserve for yourselves and your patients. It will also send a powerful message to SJHS and SEIU and inspire workers in the rest of SJHS and in Catholic hospitals across this country.
Hopefully we can carry successfully this message from his pen to our actions out in the field.

Friday, December 4, 2009

SEIU Brings The Fear

The ever-so-helpful people at Plague Central have decided to put out a presser indicating the Sturm und Drang that would befall us all should Kaiser workers kick Zombie UHW out of their bargaining units. So let's go through the release question-by-question, shall we?
Based on several questions received from members of the SEIU-UHW Kaiser Division Steward Council, the firm of Rothner, Segall, Greenstone and Leheny put together the following question-and-answer document regarding a potential decertification election among three units of Kaiser members. The information included is based on the National Labor Relations Act and precedential decisions of the National Labor Relations Board and the courts.

We hope that this document can be helpful in answering many of the questions you may have. Please feel free to pass this information on to all KDSC members, other SEIU-UHW leaders, and your fellow members.

Q: What happens to our contract if we vote to change unions?

A: If you vote to change unions, your current SEIU-UHW collective bargaining agreement becomes null and void as of the date that the results are tallied. If there are objections to the election, your current collective bargaining agreement will become null and void as of the date that the election results are certified.

Wrong answer, lawyer boy. After we vote in NUHW, federal labor law requires our employer to maintain the wages, benefits and other conditions of employment in our current contract. With the terms and conditions of that contract in place, we’ll sit down and bargain for the improvements that we want to make in our next contract. The National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Supreme Court state that it’s illegal for an employer to unilaterally change the terms and conditions of our work after we select a union to represent us. Such actions would violate Section 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act. NLRB v. Katz, 369 U.S. 736, 743 (1962); Consolidated Printers, Inc., 305 NLRB 1061, 1067 (1992).

Q: How soon can we negotiate a new contract if we change unions?

A: That depends. If you change unions, your contract automatically terminates. While the employer would have a legal obligation to bargain with NUHW, there is no guarantee that this bargaining would result in a contract any time soon. In fact, you may not get a contract at all (on average, first-contract negotiations fail 44% of the time and only 38% succeed within one year ). Also, nothing can guarantee what the terms of a new contract would be. Given the ongoing economic crisis and takeaways Kaiser is imposing on non-union and management employees, if you give up guaranteed pay raises, healthcare and pensions by switching to NUHW, it is very possible you will not achieve the same level of wages and benefits.

You forgot to mention the takeaways that Kaiser is imposing on union membership - with your tacit blessing and agreement - and notwithstanding any votes taken by the membership.

Q: Why is NUHW telling people that if we change unions, NUHW will just take over our current contract, and everything is guaranteed to stay the same?

A: If no contract is in effect, the employer is required to maintain wages, benefits, and other conditions of employment in the prior contract until the parties bargain to impasse - that is, only until the parties have reached a stalemate and further bargaining over a new contract is futile. At that point, the employer is free to enforce its last offer, even if the terms of the offer are worse than those existing in the prior SEIU-UHW contract.

See the lawyer's response to the first question above, and compare it to this answer - they are dimetrically opposite. Either the standing contract remains in place after Zombie UHW is kicked to the curb, or it doesn't. You can't have it both ways.

Q: If we change unions, will we be able to take part in national negotiations with Kaiser management?

A: No. National negotiations are conducted by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (CKPU), which represents more than 100,000 workers nationwide. As a member of the CKPU, SEIU-UHW participates fully in these negotiations, and all SEIU-UHW Kaiser agreements (including your current contract) are based on the national agreement. NUHW is not a member of the CKPU, does not participate in these negotiations, and would not be a signatory to the national agreement. Instead, NUHW would have to go it alone and bargain directly with management for three separate agreements for fewer than 2,500 Kaiser workers spread out over almost 100 worksites. Also, the Labor Management Partnership between the CKPU and Kaiser is governed by the national agreement. Because NUHW is not a member of the CKPU, NUHW members are not eligible to participate in the LMP or its initiatives.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. The moment that NUHW is recognized by one of its bargaining units, CKPU will admit NUHW as a member - unless, of course, SEIU or Zombie UHW unilaterally attempts to block NUHW's entrance into the Coalition. However, given the fact that the NUHW leadership is the group that actually put together both the CKPU and the LMP group, I'm thinking that NUHW will be the ones joining the coalition and it will be SEIU who will be "going it alone."

Q: If we change unions, could I lose the upcoming raises and performance payments that are scheduled in our SEIU-UHW contract?

A: Yes. Although the employer is required to maintain terms and conditions of employment while it bargains with the new union, if impasse is reached, it can enforce its last offer. Hence, if the parties reach impasse prior to a scheduled wage raise, and the employer's last offer does not include the wage raise, the once-guaranteed wage raise would disappear.

Pick one and go with it, shyster! Either the existing contract is in force upon a bargaining unit change, therefore bargained wage increases stay in place, or it isn't. There isn't going to be a unilateral declaration of impasse before bargaining starts with NUHW (as that is a sure-fire way to lose an arbitration), and because of the contract bar language such negotiations are not going to take place until less than eight months prior to expiry of the existing contract. Unless, of course, Zombie UHW tries to rush through an extension of the existing contract. Which would then be in force until it expires, no matter the bargaining unit. Or not. (Sorry, I just can't follow the Zombie UHW lawyer's logic path)

Q: Are my current health/retirement benefits guaranteed if we change unions?

A: No. Like wages, health and retirement benefits are terms and conditions of employment that an employer must maintain only until it bargains to impasse. Once impasse is reached, an employer may enforce its last offer, even if it contains terms and conditions which are worse than the previous contract.

See above regarding impasse.

Q: Could we end up with no union?

A: Yes. In an election, the choices would be SEIU-UHW, no union, or NUHW. If neither union wins a majority vote, there will be no union at all. If no union wins, not only is your contract is null and void but your employer will be allowed to set wages and working conditions without bargaining with anyone. Additionally, all employees will be at-will, since there will be no grievance procedure or requirement that the employer have just cause to discipline or discharge an employee.

Bull, and shit. In a three-way election, if there is no clear majority expressed, a run-off election is conducted 30 days hence with the top two vote-getters going forth. There is no way a "no union" vote is going to win at Kaiser, unless SEIU sides with KP management to achieve that end (see posts below regarding SRMH for more Zombie UHW background on that).

Q: If we change unions, can we still appeal firings, layoffs, or other unfair employer actions to an independent arbitrator?

A: No. Arbitration would not be available to resolve disputes arising while no contract is in effect. SEIU-UHW could only pursue arbitration of grievances that arose under its contract before it became null and void.
Oh joy, we're back to the "contract will disappear instantaneously" line. I really do wish they'd pick a position and stick with it.

Folks, this stuff is tiring, but the tactics are clear - it is SEIU's wish to scare the living shit out of its membership, such that they can maintain their control. They are using fear and misinformation in order to (IMHO) terrorize common, everyday workers into trusting them with their money and their collective future. This is not the behavior of a strong and progressive and powerful union, but more similar to the behavior of a cult.

The NUHW website says it best:
Q: Why are SEIU organizers using scare tactics?

A: Think about it. The SEIU organizers have little to rely on besides scare tactics. SEIU UHW-W is run by trustees who don’t even come from California
and have absolutely zero experience in bargaining with our employers.
The few contracts that they’ve negotiated are vastly inferior to contracts bargained by the old local. What kind of track record is that? Furthermore, virtually all of the trusted staff from the old local have quit their jobs because they want to be part of NUHW – a union of trusted leaders who have decades of experience and a proven track record of winning industry-leading contracts for healthcare workers.
Fear has NEVER been a good long-term motivator. It's too bad that a once-great union has tumbled to this.

Anatomy Of A SEIU Raid

Go forth and give this document from UNITE/HERE a read, and see how many SEIU traits are also being reflected at Zombie UHW.

Inactions Have Consequences, Updated

In a previous post, I had noted how SEIU, by their unwillingness to discuss election ground rules, was acting as a pro-management and anti-union front in the upcoming SRMH election. Randy Shaw at BeyondChron also made note of that in an article published on December 2nd.

Another wrinkle came up in this whole mess regarding a group called "Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice (h/t to SternBurger), in which SEIU got together with the Catholic Scholars and other groups back in May of 2009 to push Congress to pass EFCA. SEIU was quite proud of this alliance, so much so that SEIU pushed this very same meeting out on its own blog as well.

Fast forward 6-1/2 months, and the Catholic Scholars have noted that SEIU isn't exactly living up to the message it was attempting to send back in May, and they're further displeased with St. Joseph management for going along with SEIU's plans...
December 3, 2009

Mr. Kevin A. Klockenga

President and Chief Executive Officer

St. Joseph Health System Sonoma County

Sent Via Email

Dear Mr. Klockenga,

In your letter of Oct. 5, 2009 to Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice you explained that “SRMH leadership was scheduled to meet with NUHW officials to attempt to reach mutually agreed-upon ground rules for a future election.” We in CSWJ rejoiced in this statement since it demonstrated a new openness on the part of SJHS to improve labor relations and it was the first concrete application of the joint USCCB, CHA, and labor union document, “Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Healthcare and Unions.”

We have followed developments in this matter and are disappointed that SEIU refused to attend a meeting with SJHS and NUHW to decide upon ground rules for an election. We believe, however, that you still had a moral obligation to meet with NUHW since the interests of the workers should not be held hostage to one party who refuses to attend a meeting. Simply meeting with a union to discuss ground rules in no way constitutes an endorsement of that union by SJHS. In the name of the common good, we urge you to meet at the earliest possible moment with NUHW to discuss ground rules for the last two weeks of the campaign. SEIU should, of course, be invited but it they refuse to attend we urge you to schedule the meeting anyway.

In addition, we are deeply alarmed at reports that SJHS has reverted to an earlier form of behavior and is actively seeking to bust the union movement at Santa Rosa. It is a violation of Catholic Social Teaching on workers’ rights for an employer to demonstrate anti-union sentiments. The decision for or against a union is rooted in the natural right of free association and the employer may under no circumstances violate or denigrate this right through actions or conversations with workers that have a clear anti-union prejudice. Accordingly, we call upon Saint Joseph Health System to cease its anti-union campaign and to follow the norms that are set forth in Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Healthcare and Unions.

Sincerely yours,


Chairperson, Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice

Now, the average SEIU patron is either going to mumble something about "that was then this is now" or proclaim that SEIU has to save the poor workers at SRMH from the evil that is NUHW because, well, NUHW disagrees with SEIU.

Still, it's pretty clear now that SEIU would rather workers have NO union, rather than to be affiliated with a competitor - even one that may be (by SEIU's own description) broke, ineffective, wheels falling off, bla-bla-blah. Zombie UHW basically cannot point to any accomplishments in the past nine months, because it has none. All of the contracts at Sutter were negotiated prior to the trusteeship (by NUHW), and all of the Kaiser agreements negotiated after the trusteeship have been complete and total fiascos.

What's amazing to me is that anyone wonders why SEIU is the Manager's Choice in a union election.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Spin Cycle - NLRB Announcement Edition

Not surprisingly, each side has come out with a presser in the wake of yesterday's NLRB ruling. The text of the NLRB ruling can be found here.

It's not hard to figure out how NUHW feels about the decision...

More than 2,300 healthcare professionals at dozens of Kaiser Permanente facilities across Southern California will soon vote to leave SEIU and join NUHW.

A majority of the workers filed petitions to join NUHW in February, but SEIU delayed the election by filing frivolous charges which were rejected yesterday afternoon in a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board. The election should be scheduled within 42 days.

“We’re joining NUHW because we want democracy and integrity in our union again,” said Jim Clifford, MS, a therapist at Kaiser San Diego. “SEIU has made deals behind our backs to cut our pension and lay off 1,800 of our co-workers. We’ve been waiting months for the chance to join NUHW and put members in charge of our union again.”

Clifford and 74 other workplace leaders signed a letter to their colleagues announcing the election and urging a vote for NUHW.

NUHW was founded by SEIU reformers in January and sparked a mass exodus from the troubled union. The movement for an independent union stems from efforts by the SEIU’s top Washington, D.C. officials to make secret deals with employers and push healthcare workers out of negotiations.

A majority of 100,000 caregivers at some 360 hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes have taken action to join NUHW, including more than 45,000 other Kaiser employees who are circulating a petition to quit SEIU next summer.

For its part, Zombie UHW sent out a presser stating that all of us in Kaiser are doomed, DOOMED!!!! because of the decision...
A decision issued today by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has put at risk the guaranteed raises, healthcare coverage, and pensions of Kaiser Permanente RNs, social workers, and professionals in Southern California.

"We have worked for years to achieve standards at Kaiser that give us security and allow us to provide the professional care our patients need," said Jeanette Cryer, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Kaiser Corona/Riverside Psychiatry. "This decision puts all of that at risk and holds out the real threat that we will lose what we've fought so hard to achieve."

The decision by James F. Small of Region 21 of the NLRB to call for a union election among those professional employees could nullify the currently negotiated contracts covering the workers. Those agreements provide for a 2% raise in April, and profit-sharing that many of these workers are scheduled to receive in early 2010 and again in 2011.

Nullification of the agreements would put these guaranteed benefits at risk. It also opens the workers up to cuts in healthcare coverage and pensions that Kaiser has already imposed on managers and non-union employees. In all, each individual worker could lose as much as $15,000 in guaranteed income and benefits over the next two years.

The NLRB decision, which runs counter to a decision by the NLRB in northern California, calls for an election between the workers' current representative, the Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers West, and an organization run by the union's former leaders, who have formed an organization called the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The former SEIU-UHW officials were ousted in January for transferring $3 million in members' dues to a bogus non-profit organization for their own use, stashing another $500,000 in a lawyer's bank account, and undermining the democratic rights of SEIU-UHW members.

SEIU-UHW will seek review of this decision by the NLRB in Washington.

I suppose the SEIU position is the result of a basic misunderstanding of labor law, that being that when representative bodies change, the existing contract stays the same. SEIU will now try to convince some of the KaiPerm workers in SoCal that every little bit of their contract will suddenly go --poof-- once NUHW is elected, and that is a flat-out lie.

And SEIU knows it is.

No matter. I'm just waiting for SEIU to try to appeal the NLRB ruling on the same basic grounds that NUHW did back in June when NUHW's initial petition was rejected by NLRB because of contract bar. They can practically take NUHW's brief and that case and just insert "Zombie UHW" where it says NUHW, and it'll be darn near complete. And it will also be a darn near complete failure.

Clock's ticking, plaguesters!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NLRB to SEIU: Time to Vote!

This just in from the NUHW KaiPerm director:

Some really great news today. We just won an important decision from the NLRB. The NLRB notified us today that they are ordering an election for the three Chapters in Southern California. The Kaiser bargaining units are:

1. AFN (Registered Nurses at Los Angeles Medical Center)
2. Psych-Social Chapter in the Southern California Region (Medical Social Workers, Psychologists etc.)
3. Health Care Professionals (Health Educators, Dietitians, Speech Pathologists, and Audiologists)

Good news all around.

I hope SEIU has a big bullpen, because they're gonna need quite a few egg-throwers in the upcoming month or so.

Inactions Have Consequences

When Zombie UHW decided not to agree to ground rules regarding campaigning in the SRMH election (in contravention to a stated policy desired by St. Joseph Health Systems), those of us on the Red Side knew that inaction on Zombie UHW's part would have downstream consequences on management conduct in future elections.

Unfortunately, St. Joseph and SRMH took the bait and used that inaction for this upcoming election as well...

(click on the image to enlarge)

Keyser at Red Revolt does a top-to-bottom takedown of this particular piece of trash, but I cannot help but think that Brave Sir Regan and Esquirol Medina are grinning deep and large at this flyer and are hoping against all hope that the SRMH workers decide (in less than three weeks) to go the no-union route.

What kind of labor organization would stand by and actively assist management in defeating a union election in a previously non-union facility?

One word, four letters: S-E-I-U.

SEIU: Stolen Election, Illegitimate Union