As they say in the blog biz, RTWT...
The boldness to break away from one of the most powerful unions in the country and the confidence to build a credible alternative is a staggering commitment and could only be attempted by a rank and file movement that has consistently been mobilized and empowered over recent years.
“The shop stewards were the closest to the day to day activities of the workers,” Howard Wallace, Field Representative/Community Organizer (ret), SEIU- Local 250 Healthcare Workers Union, told me. “Very often they were the first to understand the issues. These unpaid, volunteer leaders had a lot of respect from all of us.”
There is much to think about from the dispute between NUHW and SEIU. Lessons better learned if the rank and file revolt is actually successful. They act for all of us by standing for militant and democratic unionism. Let us wish them well.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Some of the folks at UNITE/HERE have decided to take a chunk out of the hide of Our Glorious Maximum Leader, and do so with outstanding results...
The last 30 second section of the voice track is absolutely brilliant:
"Andy Stern doesn't care about union democracy. He doesn't care about workers having a voice. All Andy Stern wants is for you to be in SEIU - whether you like it or not. And he'll do anything to take your union from you."
(image courtesy of the NUHW Photostream on Flickr)
Last Saturday morning and afternoon, I saw people from all walks of life, with wildly divergent life experiences, speaking multiple different "first" languages, all gathered together on their own time and on their own nickel, into a junior high school in San Francisco, for a common purpose, speaking with one voice, to state that we - NUHW - will go forward with a new mission, that being to set right what has gone so badly wrong in the union movement here in California, and then nationwide.
Going into this convention, I really did not know what to expect. I've never been a "union guy" per se - I grew up in Silicon Valley, my folks were in tech, and as a result I have had little if any exposure to what, if anything, being involved in a union is all about. When I hired on at KP, which was my first unionized job, I thought of the union as a sort of necessary evil, a penance payment to be paid in order to receive the benefits of working in such a fine organization as KP. To be honest, at the beginning of my KP career, I never really paid being in a union much mind - that is, until the trusteeship talk began. I came to realize about a year or so ago (even before the Marshall hearings) that the members of UHW were eventually going to have to take a side in the Great California Union Foodfight.
I suppose it is only appropriate that NUHW's Founding Convention started in a place known as the Mission, for it is truly a Mission that lays before us all, as we go forward and re-establish the rights and privileges of union democracy which SEIU has so foully and dishonestly taken from us.
Going forward, we are in for a long, nasty fight. SEIU is not going to go away, and they are going to try any means by which to keep their membership under their collective thumb - because they know that if one large group can break out of SEIU, then other groups can break out as well, and the whole SEIU organizing model will shatter into a thousand pieces. Sal put it about right: "We will last one day longer than SEIU."
There is much work to be done, and opportunities abound for those so inclined to move NUHW forward. Fresno's IHSS vote is coming up next month, and the ballots for Doctors Hospital come out this week. CalPERB petitions are pending at Monterey/Natividad, Hawkins, and Watsonville. The NLRB is, of course, holding somewhere north of 300 petitions in bureaucratic limbo. NUHW will start to collect (again) the Kaiser petitions beginning in July and August (since the prior petitions have a one-year shelf life) in anticipation of going back to NLRB and forcing a vote in June of 2010. Anywhere and everywhere, there is work that can be done on NUHW's behalf - and on the greater behalf of all of our colleagues who are still stuck in Hotel California, desperate to check out.
Our Mission has been laid before us - so let's get to work.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
(image courtesy of the NUHW Photostream on Flickr)
John Borsos came to the podium, and it seemed to me like everyone started paying serious attention. To start out, some stats were passed along to us including the following:
In three months' time, NLRB petitions were filed for 360 facilities, covering 96,000 employees. Some are first-time (nonunionized) facilities; some have currently open contracts; some are existing contracts which are subject to the contract bar, and some fall into a "gray area", like KP and CHW. To this date, each and every petition has been blocked by the NLRB. The question on everyone's mind is...Why?
The explanation, though a bit complex, boils down to this: SEIU is trying desperately to hold onto that which it cannot keep by its own merits, and as such SEIU is forced to try every legal strategy possible to hold off any free and fair elections. For example, SEIU is filing the exact, same unfair labor practice charge against NUHW for each and every petition filed, no matter the circumstance - they are almost literally word-for-word duplicates except for the names of the facilities. This, combined with the bureaucratic nature of the NLRB and the NLRB requirement that all charges be fully and thoroughly investigated (no matter how specious they may be) has resulted in a king-sized logjam at NLRB.
The nature of the backlog at NLRB can be seen from this example: Nationwide, in all of 2008, there were a total of 75,000 employees who had filed for representation elections; in the first quarter of 2009, NUHW alone ran up in excess of 90,000 people. The result: Paralysis.
The SEIU approach to the NLRB breaks down into three basic formats:
- SEIU charges that NUHW is an "employer-dominated union." This then requires statements, discovery, etc., etc., etc. As stated above, NLRB has the legal obligation to completely investigate all claims, no matter how bogus.
- SEIU has begun to file unfair labor practice charges against itself - something which has been called by even the most jaded staffers at NLRB as "novel charges" - by proposing that prior to the trusteeship, the leadership of UHW did not bargain at any facilities in good faith, and therefore left contracts open to challenge for any new union to come in and sweep up.
- SEIU claims that NUHW is engaging in intimidation tactics in its organizing campaign.
- Visits to the halls of Congress in Washington, and in local districts as well.
- Member calls to elected representatives, but in particular to Senators Boxer and Feinstein. The NLRB answers to power, and once our elected representatives get tired of hearing about the NLRB dragging its feet in our petitions, they will in turn start leaning on NLRB, as Representatives Miller, Woolsey and Lee have already done.
- Be prepared to hold SEIU (and Andy Stern in particular) to his own words regarding the rights of employees who can demonstrate majority signup in a workplace.
- Continued aggressive litigation at NLRB - and possibly even directed AT the NLRB in order to break the logjam.
After a roughly 30-minute public statement/question-and-answer session with Sal, the highlight of which was a three-minute tirade from O'Connor Hospital's famous Hasnija from Bosnia, the quorum broke for lunch, and returned to division breakouts after lunch.
The next chapter will include my conclusions, thoughts and opinions about this most unconventional convention.
(image courtesy of the NUHW Photostream on Flickr)
With the illustration complete as to what is at stake for those who are still stuck in Hotel California, it was time for Sal to take back to the stage and let the troops know what was in store for the upcoming weeks and months. The plan of action basically boiled down to a couple of key concepts:
- Collect petitions (which has already been to a large extent done).
- Win the elections that have been permitted thus far.
- From that "foundation" created with the elections, generate the monetary resources necessary to bargain contracts in areas where we have won, as well as to continue the fight in areas that are being blocked by NLRB.
- Get NLRB-blocked facilities through election, then win those elections as well.
- Repeat the above sequence.
The first two fault line elections are coming up very quickly, with ballots going out this week at Doctors Hospital in San Pablo, and with the Fresno County IHSS group coming up in May, and that much organizing and effort - and money - was going to have to be dedicated to those two elections to bring them home to NUHW and to get the ball rolling.
Sal then took some time and explained about the differences in what he and his group was able to achieve when in charge of UHW, and what SEIU has done in the last three months, and will continue to do while they are in charge of Zombie UHW. The negotiation pattern of the prior leadership of UHW under Sal Rosselli, which will continue into the future with NUHW was and is quite simple - establish contracts that are widely considered to be the industry standard (as was the case with the 2005 KaiPerm contract) and then use THAT contract as a standard by which to measure all other contracts. The Kaiser contract was seen as a "floor" position from which to improve in all other areas - and this was done at Mariner/SAVA SNF facilities when parity was achieved for their employees to KP pay and benefit standards - a contract that is far superior to the current "template" contract approach employed by SEIU.
Even now, it is clear that SEIU is beginning to "lower the floor" at Kaiser, having already adjusted the lump-sum pension benefits to Kaiser's liking (having done so without a vote of the membership to this unilateral change), and SEIU is now beginning to make noise about altering the employment and income security provision which is one of the reasons why the KaiPerm contract is thought of as industry-leading. SEIU is also making noise about allowing the different KP service areas to "adjust" their payroll levels to suit the local economy or local financial needs, this coming less than two years after KP was finally forced to do away with the two-tier wage system that had existed at KP for over a decade. It was and is the NUHW belief that individuals doing the same job, with the same qualifications, and with the same skills, should be paid the same wage, statewide.
Sal put the NUHW contract negotiation approach quite simply: "We will raise the floor, and thereby we will continue to raise the ceiling." Meanwhile, SEIU is perfectly happy to drop the ceiling at the behest of the management, and thereby allow the ceiling to crumble about the heads of its membership.
Sal then started to get into one subject which was on everyone's mind - what's going down on the legal front. As we all know, the main stated point of contention for Zombie UHW was the need to change the jurisdiction of the UHW long-term care workers, moving them into ULTCW - but as we all know, that hasn't happened yet. The NUHW lawyers evidently had gotten a recent opportunity to ask Eliseo Medina and Dave Regan about that question, and their basic response was that it was only the decertification petitions which were keeping the long term care workers in UHW - for reasons which I can speculate upon, but I don't think it needs a lot of explanation.
Sal stated that there were all kinds of new opportunities before us, and not just in California, either. There are many un-unionized hospitals in the HCA system, in Tenet, and in others. Furthermore, there is a great opportunity to organize the IHSS workers in San Francisco and Sacramento counties. And if we can break the NLRB logjam, then the potential is there for NUHW to be even larger than UHW was in its heyday.
With this done, it was time for Sal to yield the rostrum to John Borsos, who has been spearheading the NLRB fight - and here is the time when everyone started sitting forward in their seats to listen...
...and you can read about it in Part Five, to be posted shortly...
Monday, April 27, 2009
Next up onto the stage were (soon to be former) members of SEIU, from most of the different divisions represented by Zombie UHW, there to give us a taste of what SEIU can "do" for you - or more accurately, what SEIU will do "to" you...
From a home care worker in San Francisco: SEIU called her to tell her that if she signed the decertification petition, she would lose contract protections and would get fired. She was called at home and told to come to a meeting, and that if she did not attend that meeting then she would lose her pension. When she did show up for the meeting, she and her peers who signed the decert petitions were isolated. SEIU was also in the habit of calling the police on its own members whenever they have the temerity to actually stand up for their own rights.
From a CHW employee in San Bernardino: SEIU removed the elected CHW bargaining team, and then sent removal letters similar to what we have seen here and elsewhere that went out to Kaiser stewards. SEIU then held new "elections" but previous elected members who were removed by SEIU were not allowed to stand for election. Ballots which were "written in" for the former members of the bargaining committee were altered or disposed of.
From a DoC employee in Gilroy: SEIU sent out a survey to the membership, asking them what they were looking for in the next contract. Unfortunately, one of the things on that survey was a "management rights clause." The membership took quite clear meaning from this survey - SEIU wants to insert a managements rights clause into the CHW contract, and something like that comes only from management. SEIU made a big deal about the recent Alameda Hospital contract, and the wage increases; one thing SEIU is not telling anyone is that, for the first time in over 40 years, workers at Alameda Hospital are now going to have to pay for medical coverage for their families - at a cost of in excess of $1000 per year per employee that has family coverage.
From a KaiPerm employee in Woodland Hills: He was a steward but was unilaterally removed by SEIU very shortly after the trusteeship was imposed. Prior to doing so, SEIU would constantly talk to him and try to set him against his co-workers. He spoke of the recent pension bargaining that KaiPerm went into with SEIU, where SEIU basically surrendered on pension calculations without a vote of the membership. Considering the lack of action that SEIU took in the recent layoff of the IT professionals, it can be easily concluded that the next step in the SEIU givebacks to KaiPerm is a loosening (or outright cancellation) of the employment and income security guarantees that are in the current contract.
From a SNF employee at Emerald Gardens: She spoke of constant SEIU attempts to backstep on their existing contract, and threats to anyone who tries to make SEIU stand up to its part of the bargain. She told of management being unwilling to stand up to SEIU intimidation of workers, and of even collusion between SEIU and management against workers who are trying to enforce the language of their standing contract. At the same time, the union that all her colleagues have chosen and are choosing, NUHW, is being blocked at all possible entry points by both management and SEIU - sometimes even working together.
From a nurse from Natividad Medical Center in Salinas: She described the merger that created her current union, SEIU 521, as a "garbage merger" which gives proof to the statement that bigger is not always better. When the membership asked for an investigation on whether or not a creation of an Integrated Health System between Natividad and the Monterey County clinic system would negatively affect their membership, the people at SEIU 521 thought that an "Integrated Health System" was an IT project, and should not negatively affect the membership - thus making it clear that the 521 people had no earthly idea of what it is that the membership of 521 does for a living. It took only five days for the Monterey County SEIU 521 workers to collect 2800 signatures across several different locations around the county, and stated that "we WILL have a vote." She also stated that by joining NUHW, the Monterey County workers will get for themselves stronger leadership that is member-driven, and that is based on honesty and integrity - "our future is in NUHW."
After these speakers, Sal returned to the rostrum, and began to give us the plan of action for NUHW. More about that in the next chapter...
Next on the stage was Sal Rosselli, who laid out the basic plan of business for the day. But prior to doing so, he laid out again some of the particulars against SEIU, illustrating how in the time span of roughly three months, UHW has morphed from one of the fastest growing locals in all of labor to a pro-management embarassment, from one of the most powerful union locals in Sacramento to looking like a joke in Sacramento, and in that three month span has turned into an organizations whose members are now afraid - of both management AND the "representatives" of the international union. He reminded those in attendance that we (NUHW) are the heart and soul of what UHW once was, and that we are now engaged in what can be described as the civil rights movement of our time - fighting for just the opportunity to vote on which labor organization in which to belong, rather than having that decision made for us back in DC by Andy Stern and his pro-management buddies.
It was then time to get down to the business part of the day as presented by Jorge Rodriguez, former EVP of UHW, and former President of Local 399 prior to the merger that formed UHW. He started first with a description of the interim NUHW constitution, in that this was a document that was not in final form, and was largely based on the prior C&B document that came out of the 399-250 merger, with all references to SEIU struck. Language has been set forth that establishes, by constitution, that NUHW is not to be subordinate to any other organization. The intent of the document is largely to pick up where the old union left off, with some details set forth specifically so that there is no misunderstanding in the future - to wit:
- The ability to elect and recall officers and stewards;
- The requirement for periodic meetings;
- The requirement for training of staff and stewards;
- Lower monthly dues - with the calculation of dues written into the document;
- No initiation fee;
- A guarantee of election of members of the bargaining committee;
- Nomination for election only requires 25 signatures;
- Addition of chapters and divisions for the public sector.
It was at this time that a slate of temporary officers was proposed to the quorum. This list was largely composed of the officers who were in office and were deposed when SEIU executed the trusteeship back in January, and who have remained loyal to their employees (instead of pledging their loyalty to Stern). This list of officers was immediately moved, seconded, and approved by voice vote with one semi-joking "nay!"
With the dry business part of the day complete, it was time to get back to some good, old-fashioned SEIU-bashing, and while Sal was entirely capable of doing so on his own at great length, he instead called on people who have been actually living the SEIU nightmare.
We'll get into that a bit more in Part Three...
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Very little about the history of NUHW has been conventional as unions go, and the Founding Convention of this new union fell absolutely in line with that trait.
After all, you would think that an organization that seeks to supplant The Purple Plague would choose to do so at an actual convention center. Instead, NUHW chose to hold its convention at Everett Middle School, smack in the middle of the Mission District of San Francisco, on a sunny and breezy Saturday morning.
Now, that's not to say that there weren't some conventional aspects to the NUHW Founding Convention. There was the swag, the shirts, the food, but most of all there was the energy and conviction that comes from gathering together a diverse group of people, all dedicated to the common effort of setting right what has gone so terribly wrong. As the first speaker, Angela Glasper, set forth in her speech, "why are we doing this? We had no other choice...we have lost our rights to vote, our rights to participate in negotiations...We can not, and will not, abandon the principles that brought us here."
No one was under any illusion that SEIU would not be discussed in great detail during this day. You can't discuss the history of how NUHW was formed without almost a bill of particulars against SEIU and Andy Stern, and Angela laid Our Glorious Maximum Leader out and down for the count:
- The SNF Alliance template contracts;
- The elimination of traditional stewards with the switch to SEIU Call Centers (or as she put it, the "1-800-I-Got-(effin)-Fired number");
- The lockout of the Tenet bargaining team with a switch to International negotiators;
- Predatory pooled membership voting rules on mergers;
- The IHSS/LTC jurisdiction switch jammed through during the San Juan convention;
- ...and last but not least, the trusteeship.
The next speaker was Mike Casey, President of Local 2 of UNITE/HERE in San Francisco, and also president of the San Francisco Labor Council. He took time to let everyone know that the Stern approach, that "unionizing" is the same as "organizing," is dead wrong, and that unions should not be acting like corporations. He also told us that the concept of organizing and winning contracts should not be seen as an either/or proposition, as it is in SEIU today courtesy of the "organizing model" approach so often seen in SEIU drives.
Casey then told the audience about the long alliance that the former UHW (now in the guise of NUHW) has had with Local 2, including the efforts made by Rosselli and his staff on the part of Local 2 to maintain the health coverage of the Local 2 membership during their strike in 2004. Mr. Casey put it quite clearly: "I will NEVER forget that."
Mr. Casey then went on to describe his newly emerging fight with SEIU through its proxy organization in Workers United, and stated that both unions (NUHW and UNITE/HERE) were in for a long, protracted fight against an unprincipled foe who is willing to forego principle in order to reach agreement - and stated, "I call that selling out!"
He then told the audience that, until the trusteeship, UHW was a leader in the fight to rebuild the labor movement which had become moribund in the latter part of the 20th Century, and that under the current leadership of NUHW, we can return once again to the vanguard of the labor movement in the 21st Century.
More to come in Part Two, sometime tomorrow...
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Craig Becker, Nominee for Board Member, National Labor Relations Board - Craig Becker currently serves as Associate General Counsel to both the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale College in 1978 and received his J.D. in 1981 from Yale Law School where he was an Editor of the Yale Law Journal. After law school he clerked for the Honorable Donald P. Lay, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. For the past 27 years, he has practiced and taught labor law. He was a Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law between 1989 and 1994 and has also taught at the University of Chicago and Georgetown Law Schools. He has published numerous articles on labor and employment law in scholarly journals, including the Harvard Law Review and Chicago Law Review, and has argued labor and employment cases in virtually every federal court of appeals and before the United States Supreme Court.As the author of the article referenced above stated,
You know, if a corporate lawyer had written a Bush executive order, there would have been an uproar in the media. But when a union lawyer writes an Obama executive order? Nada. Maybe’s it’s worth a question at a confirmation hearing.Damn skippy.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Instead of the SEIU approach of putting out a presser stating they intend to hold management accountable for lost jobs, the folks at NUHW decided to take another, more traditional approach - Hitting the streets at the CPMC-Pacific Presbyterian Campus to protest the Sutter cuts, as well as letting the management know that Zombie UHW is not the true representative of the CPMC employees..
Zombie UHW reps and organizers (not to mention the trustees) should take note of the above images, as they have obviously forgotten what actual union action looks like.
Wow. Evidently things must be going okey-dokey for the Purple Plague, because they've sent out a mass E-mail to everyone on their list - even those who have been previously placed on a do-not-bug list (like myself), advertising their Extra Special Rewards Sooper Kewl SEIU card.
So this is a card that was "created for you as a consumer-friendly program that eliminates costly fees and helps save you money - all while offering a fantastic rewards program." I guess it's only appropriate that we check some of the details, yes?
Well, you do get 1% cash back, but to get that, you have to go through the following:
APR 15% to 20%? Penalty rate 28%? Balance transfer APR 6% for only six months? Credit terms like that are certainly going to be saving some people some money - primarily the people at Purple Plague HQ.
So let's take a look at who is actually issuing the card - an outfit called "Partners First" - they basically issue "affinity" cards to any group that can pull together enough customers, but Partners First also has a cash-back card of its own. Let's check the non-SEIU Partners First card's details...
So, Partners First with their "own" card gives you more cash back (0.25%), has an APR that is anywhere from 50% to 67% that of the SEIU card, and charges nothing for a balance transfer for the first six months (instead of SEIU's six-month 6% rate).
That's one hell of a lot of money to pay for the "privilege" of having the SEIU logo on the card.
Perhaps this logo would be more appropriate for the SEIU card:
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Included in the document are:
- Member rights and responsibilities (including an explicit right to approve contracts and elect bargaining committees).
- Definitions of what it means to be a member, as well as a steward.
- A definition of what the dues will be for NUHW members.
- A clear statement of the election procedure for stewards and officers.
“I, ___________, accept my responsibility as an elected representative of the National Union of Healthcare Workers. I pledge upon my honor that I will faithfully observe the Constitution and Bylaws of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.I'd like to compare the proposed NUHW Constitution with that of Zombie UHW, but that document no longer exists. The reader is referred to the SEIU master Constitution - the one which indicates that you are held captive in SEIU if only seven people decided they want to remain in SEIU.
I pledge to do everything in my power to properly represent the members, including organizing the unorganized workers within my industry. I agree to defend to the best of my ability the principles of trade unionism; to work to improve the lives of working people in my community, and to assist in electing to government office officials who will serve the interests of the membership and the community.
I will not knowingly wrong a member or see a member wronged if it is in my power to prevent it. I also pledge that I will work to the best of my ability to provide effective and responsible leadership to the members I am privileged to represent.”
In a defeat to SEIU and a resounding victory for hotel and food service workers in Los Angeles and Orange County, members of UNITE HERE Local 11 voted overwhelmingly (77% in favor) to approve a dues increase to boost resources for on-the-ground, new worker organizing campaigns. UNITE HERE Local 11 has active new organizing campaigns at the Hilton LAX on Century Blvd. and the Long Beach Hilton, and is planning to open up other new organizing drives by the end of the year.You would think that SEIU would develop a different set of tactics besides phone calls, half-truths, unwelcome mailers, and scab organizers disrupting the workplace.
In an attempt to derail the vote, SEIU and their political consultant Steve Rosenthal, sent mailers to the homes of UNITE HERE Local 11 members and financed robo-calls urging members to vote no on the dues increase.
SEIU's interference in this vote is part of its ongoing assault on UNITE HERE's membership and jurisdiction. In Locals across the country, SEIU's campaign of intimidation and harassment includes: 1) a barrage of phone calls to members' homes, peddling lies and half-truths. When members ask who is making these calls, they hang up. 2) mud-slinging mailers to members' homes worthy of the worst anti-union corporations, and 3) SEIU staff invading UNITE HERE workplaces and pressuring workers.
Local 11, which represents 20,000 hotel and food service workers, is one of the most progressive local unions in the country. The union has organized almost 1,000 new hotel workers on Century Blvd. in the LAX corridor and 500 more in Orange County hotels in the last year alone. “I am proud to have voted in favor of a dues increase. UNITE HERE Local 11 has a strong organizing tradition, and this vote will help us expand our organizing program in order to lift the standards for all hotel and food service workers in Los Angeles and Orange County,” said Tom Bray, a bellman at Disney's Grand California Hotel.
On Monday April 13th, the Radisson LAX became the fourth hotel on Century Blvd. to sign a union contract with UNITE HERE Local 11. Workers at the Radisson LAX will qualify for guaranteed free family health insurance after working only 25 hours a month and will receive wage increases totaling $2.60 over the next three years.
UNITE HERE Local 11
Paulina Gonzalez, 323-485-3055
But then again, when that's all you got going for you, that's pretty much what you have to depend upon to advance your cause.
Look for SEIU to run to someone (anyone) to "nullify" the Local 11 vote. Because democracy freely expressed that does not go SEIU's way cannot be allowed to stand.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
It seems that The Big Rat wants a piece of The Big Cheese.
Is it my imagination, or are more protests being held against SEIU than incidences where SEIU is actively protesting against someone else?
They must be developing a bunker mentality in Dupont Circle.
Oooh, good one there, Dave. I'm sure that the Sutter Bigwigs are just quaking in their boots at your expression of a threat of expectation of accountability.
"We want to assure the public that we will pursue every avenue possible to protect these jobs and vital patient services," said
Dave Regan, Trustee of SEIU UHW, which represents roughly 5,000 workers at Sutter. "We are holding Suttermanagement accountable and will make sure that they are not using the economy as an excuse to cut staff and harm patient care."
Sutter'sendowment was $3.3 billionin 2007 and, despite dips in investments, remained at roughly $3 billionat the end of 2008.
- However operating revenue grew from
$7.65 billionin 2007 to $8.28 billionin 2008, demonstrating that Sutter Health has continued to grow even during the economic downturn.
- While a 'non-profit' legally, for the last five years
Sutterhas reported operating income exceeding $428 millioneach year.
Californiaare losing their jobs, and the health care industry is not immune," said Marcelino Robies, a 28-year environmental services employee at Sutter'sCPMC in San Francisco. "However, if Suttercuts 200 workers, the quality of the service at the hospital will go down. That is why we need to unite as health care workers and with the community to fight for our families and patients."
SEIU UHW members expect and demand that Sutter CPMC negotiate over any decision to cut jobs and risk quality patient care: "We will be holding management accountable for every lost job and every lost hour of work time, ensuring that
Sutterpursue every avenue possible before making those cuts," Regan said.
What's next, the Comfy Chair?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
As key senators have announced that they are not planning to support the Employee Free Choice Act, labor leaders put on a brave face, saying they have every intention of finding the needed 60 votes and that it is premature to start talking about alternatives to the bill.Gang, I told you way back in February that Our Glorious Maximum Leader's dedication to seeing EFCA come to passage was considerably less than 100%. This is only the beginning of the SEIU-led walkback away from EFCA, because the Purple Plague knows exactly what would happen to them if EFCA became law here in Hotel California.
But in an interview today, Andy Stern, head of the influential Service Employees International Union, stepped gently away from that unified front, raising the prospect of reforms that would overhaul union elections without giving workers the option of organizing sans secret ballot elections.
The legislation now before Congress, dubbed "card check," would let workers organize if a majority in a workplace sign pro-union cards; as it stands, employers require secret ballot elections. Unions say elections are marred by employer intimidation; employers say going with card-check -- what the unions call "majority sign up" -- would expose workers to union pressure.
Speaking to The Post's editorial board, Stern noted that there are ways to try to level the playing field in union elections without giving workers a way around the secret ballot requirement, such as shortening the window before elections are held -- thus giving employers less time to pressure workers -- and stiffening penalties for employer violations.
That's probably also why they are installing the "authorization shall be irrevocable" language on the Workers United signup cards - as sort of a hedge against EFCA-style organization.
I'd like to say I was surprised at this turn of events, but when dealing with SEIU it has been routinely demonstrated that the more cynical you are, the more likely it is you will be able to predict the outcome of events where SEIU is concerned.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Unfortunately, Ms. Filice, democracy is the one thing that the Purple Plague absolutely, positively cannot allow to take place.
Union chiefs out of touch with workers
Recent articles and letters by Monterey County Chapter SEIU Local 521 leaders Ben Franklin and Maria Castillo have missed the boat. They are so concerned with their own agenda to push for "F Unit" benefits that they are not listening to the members who want a union that listens to them and represents them. They have both clearly used their positions as officers for their own political agenda.
Bigger is not always better, as we found out when SEIU forced the merger of our Local 817. It is only better when members' voices are heard and decisions are made in their best interest.
Recently, the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council approved a resolution condemning Andy Stern, SEIU president, for disrespecting the UNITE HERE members. Organizers from SEIU have targeted its members with uninvited visits and other distractions to their lives.
Why not let democracy take its course? Our members have made it clear they want to vote on who represents them and they should have the right to choose. As past president, I hope our members remember the quality of representation they received before the merger and pass those thoughts on to anyone they think might be swayed by the falsehoods coming from our current president and vice president.
After 29 years serving the county's work force, I felt compelled to resign my elected position as secretary/treasurer in protest of the direction SEIU is going since the merger in 2007. Change is coming.
The text reads as follows:
Why would any union organizer say, “Don’t bargain your contract?”Is there nobody left at SEIU who can neither hablar nor escribir the Español well enough in order to translate the above pack of lies?
This is exactly what management wants and what the NUHW organizers are saying. But these are the same people who brought us . . .
NO CONTRACT for 8 months!
NO RAISES for over a year!
Substandard wage rates for technical professionals.
We need the security and stability of a strong union contract in this bad economy!
Or do they just want to be able to blame someone else when they get busted for putting out lies in Spanish that they don't have the cojones to put out in English?
Friday, April 17, 2009
Another blogger who also happens to be an elected steward (this time with a CHW facility) has awoken from a self-imposed blogging slumber, and is discussing his dilemma within the Great California Union Foodfight. And while initially on the side of cooperating with Zombie UHW, all it took for him to switch sides was a bit of over-reaching on the part of SEIU, as he explains on his own blog...
Last Monday and Wednesday, I had the opportunity to talk to the SEIU representative assigned to WHC. I told her that we, as workers, had many issues involving failures by management to follow the terms of our collective bargaining agreement. We have many scheduling, assignment, and other worksite issues that need to be addressed and corrected. We, as employees, all know of decisions that managers have made that are just WRONG.Take a moment, and click over and read the rest of this gentleman's story. His motives to cooperate with Zombie UHW were absolutely directed in the correct manner (providing good representation to his peers during a trying time), but even THAT wasn't enough for the Purple Plague. They insisted on complete capitulation and domination of who he sees, and what he thinks, 24/7. And in so doing, they ended up flipping him to the NUHW side.
To this end, I met with the SEIU representative assigned to our facility. I talked to her about the need to set aside our SEIU/NUHW differences and work together for the good of the members. I told her that if she would be willing to be more available to work with our job stewards in terms of grievances, Committee meetings, etc. that I would keep her apprised of what we need and when we need her.
I also told her that I would no longer distribute information regarding NUHW at the facility. I wanted her to understand that I would work as a steward representing our contract, and only our contract, on matters involving union issues.
In the light of the current division in CHW facilities, including our own, regarding who is vs. who should be representing us (over 70% of our members signed petitions requesting a change of representation - a change that, by the way, could have been done by CHW without us having to wait for a vote), I felt that it was important to work with them (SEIU) ASAP.
There's a lot at stake here.
Our meeting seemed to be productive, and we were heading towards and understanding that would us focus on the work that needed to be done in the Hospital and Clinic.
Then the ball dropped. A dealbreaker was put in the mix. I was told that from this point on any of the stewards that has anything to do with NUHW or those working with NUHW will be removed as stewards in their facilities. I reminded her that any meetings that I or any other steward attends on our time is OUR business. Telling us who we can associate with is out of line and out of bounds. Period.
I will continue to meet and associate with who I please, as long as it is not against the law.
I was willing to forgo communicating with NUHW staff in order to build on a working situation with our SEIU representative - what a letdown.
Now I've decided to sign up for the NUHW founding convention, and yes, I had dinner with our former union rep, Lydia, this evening. So, I fully expect to be relieved of my position as job steward some time soon. I am not trying to "call their bluff", I am just doing what I believe is right.
Whenever I state that SEIU is acting as NUHW's best recruiting tool, this is the exact situation to which I refer.
Update on 4/18: It appears that the blog post referenced above has gone 404. I cannot speak to the reasons why this might have occurred, but in case there are any questions regarding the veracity of the text highlighted above, the Google cache is available, and I have procured images of the blog post in question.
I will confess to some strong opinions being espoused on ¡Adios, Andy!. However, I am also aware that when I hit the "publish post" button, that post is going to be in the Google cache until the Google gods decide to purge it - at which time the Internet Wayback machine takes over in that respect.
Update on 4/21: It's back. I can't tell if it was a system glitch or second thoughts, but the post is back with (as far as I can tell) all the original verbiage.
Here at Highland, SEIU 1021 gave us Ruben Garcia to negotiate our contract, nice guy but not a reader or a writer for that matter. After spending a month frustrating and frightening the negotiating team and making love to his I Phone; the team broke into outright revolt and demanded that SEIU provide the team with a real negotiator. Now, one would think after that kind of performance that Mr. Garcia would be quietly re-assigned to a more appropriate environment like Club Med or a Tiki Bar but no Ruben was then put in charge of the “field campaign.” After another month of failure and embarrassment Mr. Garcia was re-assigned yet a third time, this time as a labor representative to work on work-site problems. Now, that’s what I call executive leadership, a single employee demoralized the negotiating team, the workers at large and is now assisting management in firing union supporters in specific departments. SEIU members may not be employed long enough for the PERB to deny them a vote, Ruben’s on the job.It really does stand to reason how much of a "brain drain" SEIU is suffering from, considering the level of resources they have had to pour into Zombie UHW to replace all the talent that was considered to be Politically Unreliable (or at least insufficiently loyal to Nice Scarf).
Way to go Andy with people like Ruben working for you, you may succeed in convincing one of the most pro-union hospitals in the country that they would be better off without a union. That might be the only way to make Ruben go away.
However, it can be confidently stated that the only way for the SEIU goobers to be able to put their fingers on the "pulse" of the rank-and-file out here in Hotel California is to figure out a way for them to surgically implant that "pulse" into the nasal cavity of said SEIU goober.
Pop over and give the proprietor of Daily Dirt some love, as she gives us a view of SEIU from one of its other locals, and in doing so she lets us know that it isn't just in Zombie UHW where the Purple Plague is eternally pissing off its dues-paying members.
It appears that the nursing staff of Kindred San Leandro is losing its patience with SEIU intransigence regarding a representation vote, as reported in the San Leandro Times...
Dozens of nurses picketed in front of Kindred Hospital last week, chanting, “Ready to fight? Damn Right!” and waving signs. But the nurses weren’t disputing their salaries or contracts — they were protesting their own union.We here at ¡Adios Andy! commend our brothers and sisters down at Kindred San Leandro who are making it plain to everyone who is paying the least amount of attention to some serious facts:
The nurses organized the demonstration in order to highlight their struggle with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which they accuse of ignoring them and unfairly sanctioning workers.
The SEIU is the largest union in California and merged with the United Healthcare Workers (UHW) late last year. Since then, many Kindred employees say they feel their union isn’t properly representing them. They now wish to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).
“We are trying to get management to acknowledge us as a new union,” said Anita Cook, a nurse who organized the protest. Cook said she has been harassed and suspended without cause because of her support for the new union.
“We send the SEIU millions in unions dues and that’s all we are to them, money,” said Cook. “We have no real vote and no real voice.”
John Borsos, a representative for NUHW that used to work with SEIU-UHW, also walked the picket line.
“The caregivers here have petitioned to be represented by us because their current union is no longer acting in their best interests,” said Borsos. “Unions are supposed to operate under the decisions of workers, not hospitals.”
Most of the eighty nurses that work at the rehabilitation hospital have signed a petition saying they want to switch to NUHW, according to Cook.
The next step will be to bring the dispute in front of the National Labor Relations Board. Both the SEIU-UHW and the NUHW have filed unfair labor practice complaints against each other with the board, but no date has been scheduled for a hearing.
Until the board makes its decision, the nurses cannot vote about which union they want, so the mater is now in a stalemate.
SEIU spokeswoman Jennifer Kelly, who is based in L.A., said that she wasn’t familiar enough with the San Leandro nurses to comment on the situation, but she confirmed that a similar petition by Kaiser nurses in Oakland was dismissed last week.
“On April 7, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed the Kaiser nurses seeking to decertify with the SEIU-UHW and move to the NUHW,” said Kelly.
The Kindred Hospital itself is not involved in the union dispute. In a written statement, Kindred spokesman Eric Benmour said that the hospital supports the nurses, they don’t care which union they choose, but only hope the dispute will be resolved as soon as possible.
“We value our employees and their contributions to our hospital and the care they provide to our patients in a daily basis,” said Benmour. “Kindred Hospital has no dispute with the NUHW.
The NUHW’s dispute is with the SEIU, not Kindred Hospital. We are disappointed that the NUHW has decided to picket Kindred and disturb our patients.”
NUHW is not an abstract idea, or a manifestation of one man's dreams of power (as some in the SEIU camp have put it), nor is it the product of union busters trying to drive a wedge between the rank-and-file and SEIU.
NUHW is a MOVEMENT. We are representing people who collectively want to be part of something BETTER than anything that SEIU could ever dream of offering. UHW is gone now, but NUHW may well offer us the chance to rebuild, in the ashes of UHW, something even better than what was destroyed by Andy Stern and his purple-shirted goons.
One thousand virtual cocktails to my brothers and sisters at Kindred San Leandro - and keep up the good work. And for those of us in other facilities, we should be taking notes from those fine folks, and keeping up the pressure on the SEIU toadies who are now populating the ranks of management in Sutter, in CHW, and yes, even in KaiPerm.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
During the runup to the NLRB decision regarding KP employees, KP put out a statement to its employees indicating its desire for neutrality where the Great California Union Foodfight is concerned.
Of course, anyone connected with Kaiser knows that what one of the HQ buildings says does not necessarily translate to the other HQ buildings, or out to the field management representatives.
The result is what was submitted to Perez Stern yesterday by a Kaiser Roseville employee who just happened to be visiting her co-worker husband on her off day at the KRMC Eureka campus...
After lunch, I came onto campus because like a good Kaiser employee, I use my days off for appointments. I had seen a group of SEIU organizers in the hospital, stopped to ask what they were doing, in a very non-confrontational way, and then went about my business. They went one way, I went another.The HR weenies had better get out their dictionaries and have a good gander at the definition of "neutrality". While they're at it, they should also probably look up "customer service," for the individual quoted above is not just a KP employee, she is also a KP customer.
As I walked in the door to MOB2, which is where my Department is, and also where my appointment was, I was met at the front elevator by HR. She was very confrontational, asked me if I was on paid time, and why I was wearing a Kaiser badge ( I guess it's illegal to wear a badge when you're not on paid time. Who knew?) We had a few words, and while she was on the phone, trying to figure out which rule I had broken, I headed upstairs to my department, believing the conversation was over.
I hadn't been in my department more than three minutes, when the receptionist came in the back and told me there was somebody waiting for me out front. I was dumbfounded that she had followed me to my own department. Before I knew it, here she comes. Demanding I leave immediately. Of course, I argued the point, told her I was a Kaiser employee and had a right to be there. I asked her to show me a written policy that says I am not allowed on campus during off hours. Her response was "I'm telling you to leave". She actually told me it was because I was "wearing my organizing T-Shirt and my Kaiser badge". I responded that even if I leave the work area, I am also a Kaiser member and have a right to be on campus. At that point, she asked me "well do you have an appointment?"
Now, I'm not usually an individual who lies, when asked a direct question, so I told her "as a matter of fact yes, I'm here for a screening test". Knowing she couldn't make me leave, she decided to just stick to me like glue, I guess. She "offered" to escort me to my appointment. NOW! So we went, she waited for me to register and sat in the adjacent waiting area until I was called back for my appointment. I was so upset about this treatment, I asked the tech to let me leave out of a back door. For all I know, she's still sitting there, waiting for me to exit, so she can escort me right out the door.
Does this sound like the "neutrality" Kaiser is pretending to honor, while we sort out our Union woes? It sounds to me like those "organizer/reps" from SEIU went running to HR with their tails between their legs at the sight of my NUHW T-Shirt and the obliging HR department is acting as their body guards. It's sorry enough that they are always seen in packs. They are too intimidated by the workers they claim to be protecting to come on campus alone. Now they have HR at their beck and call as well? Watch out folks, YOU COULD BE NEXT!"
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Give the Purple Plague credit - they evidently know how to keep themselves in the news - even if it is for the entirely wrong reason.
Another front in SEIU's systemwide rear guard action is opening up at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, as reported upon by the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat:
Sonoma County’s three big hospitals are becoming battlegrounds in a war that has erupted between the powerful Service Employees International Union and a breakaway union that says it has the support of thousands of local health care workers.The only threat to those contracts is the fact that NUHW might actually better them and make you in the Purple Plague look like the corporate sellouts that you are, but I digress...
The rival union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, commonly referred to as NUHW, was formed by leaders from an Oakland-based healthcare workers’ local affiliated with SEIU.
The service employees union has begun sending in representatives from other regions to help stem the tide of defectors taking up the banner of the competing labor group.
Gumecindo Gonzales, a phlebotomist and NUHW supporter who has been part of the organizing effort at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for five years, said he’s getting ready for an onslaught of SEIU troops.
“They’re at the post right now with all these other union organizers from other states,” said Gonzales, who once supported the Oakland group, the United Healthcare Workers West, SEIU’s second-largest California local.
Gonzales, a member of a statewide committee organizing workers at St. Joseph Health System facilities, said NUHW organizers are seeking to represent 750 non-nursing positions at Memorial that that include medical technicians and cleaning and support staff.
SEIU officials say Gonzales, along with former organizers and current stewards from the Oakland local, is waging a campaign to undermine SEIU’s representation in Sonoma County. The campaign, they say, threatens existing union contracts at Sutter Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente Medical Center and sets back years of organizing efforts at Memorial Hospital.
“The process is in place for stewards who do not support this union to not remain in this union,” said Pete Janhunen, a spokesman for the SEIU local.Objection, Your Honor, facts not in evidence: I'm still looking for someone, anyone, to point out where exactly SEIU has actually negotiated a 'positive contract.' The former leadership of UHW now in NUHW has a 20-year history of positive contracts. SEIU has a 20-year history of givebacks and whining when they don't get their way.
“The idea that people want to found a union by destroying a union and preventing workers from negotiating a positive contract is absurd,” he said.
Oh, well. I could go on, but read the article, and join the attached discussion.
Also see the article in the NorthBay edition of the Business Journal for more reporting on the NUHW movement in Sonoma County.
I have just seen a copy of your letter to the Sacramento Kaiser personnel regarding your attempt to reconstruct a steward council.
What you evidently do not know, or just refuse to understand, is that each and every member of the former Sacramento steward council was elected by their peers.
The reason that the peer-elected stewards resigned en masse is that they do not support Your Union, primarily because Your Union has decided to collectively turn the UHW membership into serfs with absolutely no rights under any constitutional framework.
Yes, that's right, I said "Your Union." And to paraphrase your letter to the SAC folks, if that enrages you, too damn bad.
You see, Sam, you came in here with absolutely no clue about the history of UHW, nor any clue of what made UHW work, or why UHW was so damn successful prior to your misbegotten Trusteeship.
One of the core reasons for the success of UHW was an implicit knowledge amongst the rank-and-file members that they had a voice in what is going on in the workplace. One of the primary ways the rank-and-file members express that voice is in direct elections of their stewards. And once those stewards were elected, they had free reign to represent their peers in any manner they saw fit, whether it was in line with UHW thinking or not. They were not silenced for expressing a different opinion. They were not fired because they did not toe the SEIU line.
Your pitiful appeal to the Sacramento membership for stewards to come out of the woodwork and support your Tinpot Trusteeship will only guarantee one thing, that being that those who become stewards at Sacramento will bear the imprimatur so many people placed upon the departed 43rd President of the United States: "Selected, Not Elected."
And as we all saw with the departed 43rd POTUS, it is very tough to maintain any sort of moral leadership when a large chunk of the people he or she is supposed to represent does not have any faith in the process by which he or she rose to that position.
Right, wrong or indifferent, SEIU no longer enjoys the support of a majority of UHW-covered workers. You celebrate the recent NLRB decision, but numbers don't lie: There are about 48,000 UHW-covered workers, and 28,000 (55%) of them signed the petition to get out of SEIU. Simple human nature suggests that a rather large chunk of the remaining 20,000 is pretty evenly split between those who wish to stay in SEIU, and those who do not give a rip either way. If a free and fair election is staged, SEIU would probably lose to the tune of 65% to 35%. Fortunately for you, that election was called off due to a legal technicality.
You also need to realize that if EFCA was the law right now, you would be out of a job, because SEIU would have long since been kicked to the street.
You right now are Sacramento's "face" of SEIU, and judging by the content of that letter you wrote, you seem to fit right in with the SEIU mindset. Put quite bluntly, Sam, you have forgotten (or as I suspect, you never have learned) that YOU in SEIU exist to serve US in the rank-and-file, and not the other way around.
You might think that you and Your Union won a great victory last week at the NLRB, but all you managed to do was to put off the inevitable.
Good luck trying to cobble together a "steward council" there at Sacramento - 'cuz you're gonna need it.
And if you want some proper education about Your Union, log onto "¡Adios, Andy!" and get yourself educated about the issues surrounding the Trusteeship - because again, judging from that letter you sent out, you desperately need it.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Behold the new "face" of the Kaiser division of Zombie UHW. Courtesy of PerezStern, this is Diane Barton, who evidently has been named "Chief Steward" down at Santa Clara, and who has evidently been nominated by Zombie UHW to be the spokesperson for those of us Kaiser workers who are stuck in Hotel California:
"I couldn't be happier with the NLRB's decision after all the months of harassment and deception by people trying to decertify our union," Diane Barton, SEIU UHW Chief Steward, Kaiser Santa Clara. "The government's decision just validates that we have a strong, secure union at Kaiser with SEIU UHW. Now it's time for us to get ready to bargain a great contract in 2010 together with the rest of the 26 unions in the Kaiser Coalition of Unions."You wanna talk about "deception," Diane? How about 28,000 names having been submitted to NLRB asking for a vote out of 48,000 eligible to do so, or about 58% of all eligible voters signing the petition asking for a vote on the issue? When 58% of the eligible members of any organization want out, calling that a "strong, secure union" is the quintessential definition of "Deception."
By the way, Diane, how'd you get to your exalted position of "Chief Steward," anyway? Were you elected by your peers as was the case before the Trusteeship, or were you appointed by Zombie UHW after the Trusteeship was imposed? And if that is the case, that you were appointed after the Trusteeship, would you volunteer to put yourself up for re-election as a "Chief Steward" to make sure that your position was actually the stated will of the employees at Kaiser Santa Clara? Or would you take the example of your Purple Plague bosses and try to hide behind technicalities and legalities in order to thwart the stated will of the people you are purported to allegedly represent?
I think I have a sneaking suspicion of which path Diane Barton would take on the above question.
Yes, my friends, Diane Barton probably already knows quite well how to define "Deception" - and all she has to do is to look in the mirror in order to do it.
Friday, April 10, 2009
All three of the Representatives in the above letter represent districts in the San Francisco Bay Area, and all of them have constituents who are being affected by the antidemocratic maneuvers of Zombie UHW and the Purple Plague. And as such, it is hoped that the NLRB will actually look at the merits of the cases before it, instead of employing the pretzel logic that was so apparent in the recent Kaiser decision.
I have to say, I'm amused by how the union junkies are so desparately begging folks to support the union. IT'S A FARCE!!! The union has gotten us more take aways than they have gains. It wouldn't surprise me if they got together with GAS & said "okay, you put them all on furlough for 2 days, that way these idiots will be thrilled with us for 'talking' you into 1 day when we go back to the bargaining table. We'll look like heroes and you'll get the benefit of 'agreeing' to one day in place of 2." Not all of us are stupid enough to fall for the union BS. When times were great & the housing market was booming, they got us 3.5% over 2 years. They tried to tell us they got us 14% with the take-aways being removed. Meanwhile CCPOA & others are getting 10+% in raises plus the take-away. You tell me who's getting hosed here.Read and enjoy...
Support SEIU? I don't think so.
“Once again, we are relieved the NLRB has dismissed this distraction,” SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette said. “UHW members deserve more than to be treated as pawns.”Um...
"Deserve more than to be treated as pawns?"
This coming from the same outfit that is planning to yank 65,000 people out of UHW's long-term care and SNF division and plunk them into a combined local with Tyrone Freeman's disgraced and trusteed ULTCW with a Stern-appointed president and no elections and no member say-so about what happens for the next three years? And all of this despite their explicit vote indicating their desire not to be yanked out of UHW?
You know, kinda-sorta the basic root casus belli of the Trusteeship according to the Marshall decision?
Does Baghdad Michelle actually believe all the shit she is spewing on behalf of Our Glorious Maximum Leader?
Thursday, April 9, 2009
This is what we in KaiPerm and CHW have to look forward to over the next year and a half, as Zombie UHW busily tries to ram through some (or any) contract that will lock the workers and the dues up for years at a time, while they can give gobs of money and benefits back to the employers, cheat us out of our years-earned pension benefits, and then turn around and beat their collective chest about how they have achieved a Great Victory for Member Democracy.
Y'all just remember that when your wages are going down courtesy of SEIU, especially in a time in which, because of increased taxes on the federal and state level combined with inflationary pressures due to 8+ years of deficit spending, meaning that the actual value of the dollar is going to be going down-down-down, and it'll take more of them to maintain your current economic level.
This, in SEIU World, is called "Member Democracy."
Over the past few days, SEIU leaders carried out a campaign of secret negotiations, sellout deals and rigged membership votes in an effort to impose a top-down contract settlement on hundreds of nursing home workers in Northern California.Peer-elected negotiators locked out. Union-selected "bargaining representatives" bussed in. Intimidation. Vote fixing. Rushed negotiations. Givebacks.
The actions - which affect workers at seven nursing homes operated by for-profit Foresight Management Services - are an example of precisely the kind of undemocratic behavior that SEIU-UHW was fighting prior to the trusteeship. The recent events also underscore the key philosophical differences between SEIU's leaders and the tens of thousands of rank-and-file workers who have formed NUHW.
Here's what happened: On Friday, twenty members of the nursing home workers' elected bargaining committee arrived at SEIU-UHW's Oakland office for scheduled contract negotiations with the company. In the previous negotiating session, which took place before the trusteeship, the elected committee had rejected the company's proposal on wages and benefits, which was far lower than the standards already won by other SEIU-UHW nursing home workers. Following those negotiations, workers terminated a temporary extension of their prior contract and began preparing for a strike.
On Friday, when the bargaining committee arrived for its next negotiating session, SEIU Executive Vice President Mary Kay Henry and other SEIU leaders prohibited them from attending the negotiations by literally locking them out on the sidewalk in front of the union's office.
Meanwhile, inside the office, SEIU leaders were meeting with company executives and a few workers who had been hand-picked by SEIU leaders to take the place of the elected bargaining committee. These few workers represented only three of the seven nursing homes. Workers had gotten wind of two of SEIU's hand-picked members, and 70% of their co-workers had signed a petition expressing no confidence in them as bargaining committee members.
Locked out on the sidewalk, the elected bargaining committee began picketing the union's office. After TV news cameras showed up, SEIU officials quickly invited the committee inside, and members believed they were finally going to be allowed to participate in their own negotiations.
Instead, SEIU officials took the bargaining committee to a separate room and told them they could not attend negotiations unless they signed a loyalty oath to SEIU's leaders and also rescinded their signatures on NLRB petitions requesting to join NUHW.
Horrified, the bargaining committee was back on the sidewalk, picketing and chanting. Workers eventually left, but hours later they delivered an even stronger message by serving their employer with a ten-day notice for a 24-hour strike at all seven nursing homes.
Inside the negotiations at SEIU-UHW's Oakland office, SEIU leaders accepted the exact company proposal that the elected bargaining committee had rejected in January. The deal includes wages that are 30% lower than those won by other SEIU-UHW nursing home workers before the trusteeship.
With a strike notice hanging over their heads, SEIU leaders rushed to conduct a rigged membership ratification vote on their secretly negotiated agreement. How was the vote rigged?
SEIU failed to provide any advance notice to members about the vote, which was held the following day (Saturday). SEIU misrepresented the details of the proposed agreement and also barred large numbers of workers from casting ballots. For example, when workers from the afternoon shift arrived at work and attempted to vote, SEIU announced that the polls had closed. And at the conclusion of balloting, SEIU officials refused to count the ballots in front of workers, as is common practice.
Workers immediately began circulating a petition to demand that SEIU re-run the ratification vote in a democratic and transparent fashion, with full disclosure of all of the terms of SEIU's substandard agreement.
SEIU has yet to announce the results of Saturday's profoundly flawed vote. Given SEIU's behavior, many workers fear that union officials may have stuffed the ballot box so they can implement a contract that, by all accounts, will be applauded by company owners and widely opposed by SEIU-UHW's own members.
That is "Member Democracy," SEIU style.
And THAT, my friends, is why SEIU can never allow an up-or-down vote on its conduct of the Trusteeship - they know they'll get their asses kicked to the street.
Brother Sal gave me a call and basically told me to get back with the program, that there is reason to be optimistic, and that we need to work past this recent setback and toward the greater goal before us - and he's absolutely right.
Those of us who are more classically educated can take encouragement from the speech that then-Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill gave to the House of Commons on June 4, 1940, on the evening after the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force from Mainland Europe at Dunkirk, with a few alterations to fit the context:
"I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our new union, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of the National Union of Healthcare Workers-every man of them. That is the will of the E-board and the leadership.Then again, there are those who may well believe that "this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part"...
We, who are linked together in cause and in need, will defend to the death our new unity, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of our strength. Even though large tracts of Kaiser and many old and famous facilities have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Trusteeship and all the odious apparatus of SEIU rule, we shall not flag or fail.
We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in California, we shall fight nationwide and locally, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the hospitals, we shall defend our Unity, whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on the streets, we shall fight on the union halls, we shall fight in the press and in the new media, we shall fight in the halls of government.
We shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this union or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our comrades beyond the reach of SEIU, armed and guarded by the God-given freedoms they have inherited as Citizens of this Great Nation, would carry on the struggle until, in God's good time, the New Union, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of all those trapped in the Old."
In any event, this fight ain't over by a long shot, because there's one fact that overrides every other visceral reaction:
SEIU is doing anything it can to avoid a straight up-or-down vote on the Trusteeship. As long as SEIU is running scared, NUHW is by definition on the rise.
Time to get up, and get our asses off the ground. Whether it's Churchill or Bluto who helps you out, time to get up and get back in the game.
It was only right that he call me and tell me to get back in the game after my "Slammed" post yesterday, and for that fact alone, Sal Rosselli has my gratitude and respect.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
First off is the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the US District Court for Northern California directing the return to Zombie UHW "any information" that was derived by NUHW partisans whilst in the employ of UHW - even if that information is currently stored on personally owned storage media. Quoth the Judge:
If defendants have commingled UHW property with their own personal property — such as by using their private PDAs to do UHW work — that is a problem of their own making and is no defense to having to return the UHW information and property. Although this order will provide an opportunity to sort the private material from UHW material, the main burden and cost of doing so should fall on those who commingled in the first place rather than on UHW.It goes on and on, but basically Zombie UHW is effectively going to be able to eventually find out who is Politically Reliable and who is not, courtesy of the personal property of those who are not Politically Reliable.
Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there.
It looks like we're going to have to put Kaiser Permanente up on the Billboard of Shame, as the nice folks at NLRB evidently have decided that Andyism is far more important than actual constitutional rights...
I hope that Diane Barton is very proud of herself. She has just declared herself a "Chief Steward" in an organization whose membership is looking for some way, any way, to get out.
NLRB Upholds SEIU UHW as Union for 48,000 Kaiser Workers, Dismisses Bogus Petitions to Decertify
SEIU UHW Kaiser Members Move to 2010 Bargaining Preparations
OAKLAND, Calif., and LOS ANGELES, April 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On April 7, the National Labor Relations Board officially dismissed a petition seeking to decertify SEIU UHW as the union representing more than 48,000 caregivers at Kaiser Permanente facilities stating that "the Feb. 26 petitions were clearly filed outside the appropriate window period and after the local and national agreements were reaffirmed for an additional two years, I find that a contract bar exists to the processing of these petitions."
The ruling protects SEIU UHW member contracts, wages and benefits, and ends any other organization's hopes of invalidating the contracts members won and ratified in 2005 and 2008. Last month, the NLRB also threw out a similar petition at Catholic Healthcare West, reaffirming contract and union protections for another 14,000 SEIU UHW members.
"I couldn't be happier with the NLRB's decision after all the months of harassment and deception by people trying to decertify our union,"
Diane Barton, SEIU UHW Chief Steward, Kaiser Santa Clara. "The government's decision just validates that we have a strong, secure union at Kaiser with SEIU UHW. Now it's time for us to get ready to bargain a great contract in 2010 together with the rest of the 26 unions in the Kaiser Coalition of Unions."
SOURCE SEIU UHW
I will endeavour to pick up more information about the NLRB decision, but this cannot be construed as anything other than an EPIC FAIL for NUHW, and a damn shame to boot.
It looks like the only way out of Hotel California for those of us who want out is either to quit the job or to fully decertify - neither of which is all that appealing...
Update @ 7:20 p.m. with NUHW Press Statement...
Oakland, Calif.—The following statement was issued by the National Union of Healthcare Workers:Oy...
"The reason the Employee Free Choice Act is supported by President Obama, Congress, and the entire labor movement is because the NLRB rules too often in favor of bosses instead of workers. Today, the NLRB ruled in favor of SEIU bosses, and against the workers at Kaiser Permanente.
"This ruling does not change the fact that a majority of Kaiser workers across California have repudiated SEIU's backroom deals and undemocratic practices.
"Since taking control of SEIU-UHW away from its members, national SEIU officials have already kicked healthcare workers out of national bargaining and allowed Kaiser to cut their retirement security, all without any vote by the workers affected.
"NUHW will appeal the NLRB's decision on behalf of Kaiser employees, and will continue to support their movement to join a union where they have a voice."
Anyone out there got some good news?