Wednesday, April 14, 2010

One Final Note

Given the name of this blog, it would be impossible for me not to comment on this week's blockbuster news that Our Glorious Maximum Leader has decided to hang up his spurs. While the news got out in a forum not of his choosing, eventually he had to come to the fore and make his reasons known...



Such a self-serving fable can only be properly bookended by the statement of Sal Rosselli, who has become Nice Scarf's chief antagonist, and who managed against all odds to remain One Day Longer than Andy Stern...
If the reports are true, and Andy Stern steps down as the head of the SEIU, a sad chapter in the once proud union’s history will come to an end.

Stern’s legacy is that he took control of an organization built by more than a million hardworking janitors, healthcare workers, and public servants, and used their resources primarily to secure his own political power.

Instead of helping SEIU members fight for better jobs and better patient care, Stern gave himself the authority to cut secret deals with corporations and trade away members’ rights.

Instead of helping working people build their own organizations, he “restructured” existing unions, crushed democracy, and put his own loyalists in charge: appointees like Tyrone Freeman and Annelle Grajeda, who could always be trusted to vote with Stern, even if they couldn’t be trusted to keep their hands out of the till. Stern’s allies have been exposed for financial corruption and connected to the Blagojevich pay-to-play scandal.

Instead of uniting the labor movement’s strength, Stern tore apart the AFL-CIO and created the “Change to Win” federation, only to tear apart Change to Win four years later with an unprecedented raid on SEIU’s closest partner in the federation, Unite Here.

Last year, tens of thousands of SEIU healthcare workers in California realized that if they wanted to stand up for their patients and fight for their work to be valued, they would have to do it in an independent union outside SEIU. When Stern came to take control of their local union, they founded the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

Stern’s multi-million-dollar fights against these healthcare workers and against Unite Here have diverted resources away from healthcare reform and employee free choice, weakening the former and scuttling the latter. These wars of choice have taken a toll on the union’s finances as well as on Stern’s credibility.

Wherever Stern parachutes himself next, he will leave a workers’ organization in disarray, with a crisis of leadership from top to bottom. His likely successors, Mary Kay Henry and Anna Burger, have been tarred by the same ethics scandals and failed policies that marred his tenure. Stern’s legacy is that SEIU has become a rogue union, undemocratic, unable to pay its bills, and unwilling to defend its members at the national level.

The challenge for SEIU is not simply to choose a successor, but to reverse years of bad policy, restore accountability, and steer away from the brink.
I seriously doubt that SEIU will be able to pull back from the brink - the two most likely successors in the short term (Anna Burger and Mary Kay Henry) both owe their souls and their careers to Andy Stern, and thus are unlikely to engineer any course other than to endeavor to continue the prior path of undemocratic and corporate-style "unionism" which is much more concerned with management's rights and the union's bottom line than it is the lives and choices of the workers that SEIU is purported to represent.

¡Adios, Andy! Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Long And Winding Road




To say that this journey has been a long and strange one would be a serious understatement. However, like all journeys, this one must come to an end.

When starting out this blog, my original intent was to bring forth an article once or maybe twice a week, recounting all the issues that SEIU was creating with their misbegotten trusteeship. Little did I realize that SEIU would be such a self-destructive font of information. There were several months during the run of this blog where I was able to put up one post a day, and sometimes more than that on average.

I had also originally intended to continue to write this blog until such time as I was given the opportunity to cast my vote on what was going on inside KP vis-à-vis the trusteeship. In retrospect, that may have been a bit of an ambitious goal; then again, I had trusted (naively, I must admit) that the Kaiser management team would recognize the clearly stated will of its employees, and ask the NLRB to conduct an election based on the stated will of a majority of its employees.

Alas, as we all know, that was not to be, and instead we NUHW partisans have had to fight a Maquis-like insurgency against the lies and terror being perpetrated by SEIU, while being actively colluded against by both SEIU and KaiPerm management.

We all saw what the result of that collusion turned out to be for SEIU down south via the SoCal Tsunami, as well as the overwhelming verdicts at Santa Rosa and the other smaller nursing facilities.

Having seen those results, and having witnessed personally the scornful attitude that SEIU organizers have for the KaiPerm rank-and-file, it’s pretty clear to me that Zombie UHW’s days are numbered within KaiPerm.

When I started this blog, I had no idea of the level of passion and commitment that the NUHW supporters shared throughout the UHW-organized facilities. I have met and become online “friends” with a cross-section of healthcare workers and union activists that will (I hope) last years into a bright and gentle future when the true, democratic way of NUHW will become the norm throughout hospitals in California, rather than just a hopeful exception.

I stand in awe of what the NUHW supporters have done so far, and I am honored by the level of commitment that these people have given to what initially had to have been seen as a quest that would make Don Quixote stand up and take careful note.

To my readers and commenters – you have my sincerest gratitude and respect, for you are people who have been attached to an idea that might does not always make right, and that the quality of the members of an organization stand for much more than the sheer number of members in that organization. I am proud to have been an occasional chronicler of this battle, and I hope that I have done right and well by the long and winding road on which we all collectively find ourselves.

It is for that reason, and because the demands on my personal and professional time have grown far and above what was available to me one year ago, and far and above the free time required to keep ¡AA! both fresh and relevant, that the time has come for me to put ¡AA! to bed. As selfish as it may seem, I would prefer to end the blog well, rather than to continue on a path that must inevitably lead to an inferior presentation. I will instead be concentrating my pro-NUHW agitation at my local KaiPerm facility as well as other locales nearby.

For posterity’s sake, commentary on prior posts will remain open for about two weeks or so, at which time all further commentary will be closed, but I will leave the blog up for public review until the trusteeship is consigned to its well-deserved dustbin of history.

In the meantime, I leave the commentary on all things NUHW and SEIU in excellent hands, and I would encourage all interested readers to go over to Tasty’s place, or go over to Red Revolt and see what Keyser has been up to out in Wine Country USA. And who knows – maybe someday even Perez Stern will make a triumphant return to blogdom.

Until then, keep the faith, and remember that no matter where Andy Stern may find himself, I have no doubt that he will always see RED people.

Farewell, and take care.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

SEIU 1021 Tosses Out Andy's Appointees

The results are in from SEIU 1021's election, and Andy's Appointees had a Very Bad Day.

Almost the entire "Change 1021" slate was elected, and most of the current 1021 E-board members who stood for election or re-election (since the offices were re-jiggered for this election) were tossed out.

The Newest Face of SEIU's Thug Squad



Ooops...wait...wrong mugshot...

Okay, here we go - meet Liz Castillo, a paid Zombie UHW staffer, trying her best to fight off the organization effort at Garden Grove...



As it can be plainly seen, she takes the "fight" part seriously.

A police report has been filed with the Garden Grove Police Department (case #10-02687), and the whereabouts of Liz Castillo remain unknown at this time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sometimes the Jokes Just Write Themselves...

From TPM Cafe, via the AP...

Obama makes picks for debt commission


President Barack Obama's four appointments to the bipartisan debt panel he established last week include the head of manufacturing giant Honeywell and a former top-ranking Federal Reserve official.

Obama will name David Cote, chief executive officer at Honeywell International, and former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alice Rivlin to the panel today, an administration official said. He will also appoint Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, and Ann Fudge, the former chief executive officer of Young & Rubicam Brands.

The only way this makes any kind of logical sense is that in order to sit on this panel, you need to have run up a bunch of debt that you have no hope in hell of paying off. That's something that Our Glorious Maximum Leader knows all about.

Block And Copy

It appears some of the Zombies have been practicing their Word-fu. Too bad they didn't have someone independently check the document before sending it out...

(image on Scribd, courtesy of Tasty)

Having 52 signatures representing 51 facilities strikes me as something less than a grass-roots movement.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A St. Louise Organizer Speaks Out

From the Gilroy Dispatch...

Dear Editor,

I've been a respiratory therapist at Saint Louise Regional Hospital for 18 years. I want to tell our community the truth about what's been going on in our hospital over the last year, and why things are about to get better.

For the last eight years, my co-workers and I have been part of a labor union. You may have seen us on the sidewalk once or twice with picket signs, and wondered what was going on.

I helped organize the union because caregivers at Saint Louise were concerned about our patients as we worked harder and harder caring for more patients with not enough staff. We were tired of spending long hours caring for people in our community, only to come home unable to afford quality healthcare for our own families. We were tired of having no way to make things better.

Organizing the union was hard. We weren't prepared for how hard hospital administrators would fight to keep us from having a voice in decisions. They threatened us with discipline and told us we'd lose everything - but that wasn't true.

With our union, we finally had a way to solve the problems we all faced at work. We won contracts in 2002 and 2004 that improved patient care and helped attract and retain good, experienced caregivers.

But while we were moving forward here in Gilroy, trouble was brewing on the other side of the country. Officials of our union's parent organization had hatched a plan to centralize power in Washington, D.C., and take control of negotiations away from healthcare workers like us.

The Service Employees International Union wanted more members and more dues money, they didn't care who they hurt in the process. In time, we saw them make secret deals with nursing home companies to take away residents' rights, and undermine many of the gains hospital workers had made in California. Then they tried to take our rights away.

Together in our local union, we stood up to SEIU and told them "No." In retaliation, they took over our union last year, removed the co-workers we'd elected to represent us, and replaced our elected leaders with unaccountable staff from Washington, D.C.

SEIU took over negotiations at Saint Louise, and settled a contract that is nothing but takeaways - on scheduling, healthcare, job security, and more. They lied to workers about the deal, and made us vote on a contract we'd never seen. Employees at Saint Louise are sad and upset. Many of us have been targeted and threatened by SEIU.

It's been painful to see this happen. I spent 10 months of my life under fire from management, organizing this union so that my co-workers and I would have a voice of our own. Now the bullying and intimidation are coming from our own union. We have no voice, and little protection if we speak out for our patients.

Saint Louise workers are taking our union back, by building a new union that belongs to us and no one else. A majority of us petitioned last year to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and an election is coming soon so we can make the change official. NUHW was founded by healthcare workers like us, and the experienced negotiators who helped us win our first two contracts are now supporting us in NUHW. Thousands of workers at Kaiser and at hospitals and nursing homes have already joined NUHW.

We're voting NUHW to restore democracy and integrity to our union at SaintLouise, so we can keep standing up for quality patient care and better jobs in our community.

Kathleen Volle, registered respiratory therapist,

Saint Louise Regional Hospital

Looks like the vaunted DOCHS unity rally didn't generate as much unity as they wanted.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blog Status Update

Very light material, very little news, with very much else going on in the "real" world has led to a dearth of posts of late, for which I apologize. As always, excellent coverage can be seen over on Red Revolt as well as at Sternburger With Fries.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Zombie Follies



Even though not much has been happening in the news of late, things are beginning to cook out in the facilities. One of our Facebook sources passes this story along from Providence Tarzana...

First day on the job at Tarzana Hospital for our NUHW Rep. and Security attempted to throw him out. A group of workers who were having lunch at the next table promptly stood in his defense against security stating that "SEIU is in here every day bothering us but because he's NUHW you wanna throw him out?!!!" He stayed

Not to be outdone by such amateurish attempts at intimidation, we have this story courtesy of SBWF, wherein a Zombie nursing home rep decides to confront a rank-and-file nursing home worker who is gathering signatures for NUHW, and when that intimidation fails, the rep tries to get that worker fired...
So the SEIU rep hauls her to the boss's office and does her best to continue intimidating her there. The worker stands her ground, and begins to lecture this idiot SEIU rep about her fiduciary obligations to serve the interests of the workers and to HER specifically. And the worker reminds the SEIU rep that her monthly union dues are paying her salary.

The SEIU rep, lacking any thoughtful response to these arguments, simply threatens to have her fired if she continues her support for NUHW.
Go to Tasty's place to get the full rundown, but suffice it to say, it doesn't end well for the Zombie rep.

Friday, February 12, 2010

More Elections Coming...



It appears that the blocking charges for both Providence Tarzana and Olympia Medical Centers have been dismissed by the NLRB.

Those two facilities now join USC for upcoming elections to be scheduled within the next 60 days.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Binge, Purge, Binge, Purge

Nothing much going on right now. Waiting for specifics on some elections coming up, especially USC. Also waiting for some possible other elections to be released by the NLRB.

RUMOR ALERT - Rumblings are that SEIU got an order to show cause last Friday on about 100 similarly worded petitions before the board, and that they had seven days from that time to show cause why their blocking charges should be maintained.

And yes, I am aware that Craig Becker's nomination to the NLRB failed to clear a cloture vote in the U.S. Senate, which means that his nomination is, for all intents and purposes, stalled. As it stands right now, only 52 senators wanted the debate to go forward, which is minimalist support at best - and that support can only keep going down, based on some of the writings that Becker has had his name put to in the past. Obama may have no choice but to use a recess appointment if he really wants Becker on the NLRB.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Weekend Reading


Cal Winslow. Go. Read.

Here's a taste...
There existed in UHW, before trusteeship, a powerful, democratic and militant workplace culture – based on workers. And years of struggle. It was the foundation of a member driven union. This included a deep respect for the capacity of workers to organize, self-organize, for their courage and creativity – all so absent in SEIU. It still exists, a little battered perhaps, but if these three Kaiser units are any indication, it is, if anything, tougher than ever.
Like I said - Go. Read.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Meet The New MAPE, Same As The Old MAPE


(image courtesy of www.new-mape.org)

Clan Barney evidently just can't catch a break.

It appears that one of the old legacy locals of SEIU 1021 is getting itself ready for a petition to pull out of 1021 in favor of going their own way.

The new Marin Association of Public Employees, largely composed of the leadership and rank-and-file of the old legacy SEIU 949, last Friday turned in petitions to the state PERB indicating their wish to separate from SEIU 1021.

Their reasons for doing so can be found on their website, but those reasons sound (once again) eerily similar to those reasons being given by NUHW supporters for wanting to break away from Zombie UHW. Things like wondering where dues money goes, lack of representation, lack of ability to vote on pocketbook and dues issues, etc., etc.

And SEIU 1021 is evidently regurgitating some of the very same lies that they have been and are using against NUHW.

You have to wonder what is going through the head of Our Glorious Maximum Leader right now, seeing as he now has brushfires burning in UHW, 6434, 721, 1021, 221, and a thriving reform movement going on right now in 521 - all locals that were either trusteed by Andy Stern, or were created out of thin air by Andy Stern out of previously functional locals.

When you keep getting whacked in the face by things that you create, wouldn't you think about stepping back and wondering if your creations are getting a bit out of hand?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Certifiable




NUHW is now officially the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the SoCal KaiPerm employees formerly represented by Zombie UHW.


Any other questions, Zombie supporters?


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rumor Has It...

From the NUHW Facebook crew...
NLRB just released blocking charges at USC University Hospital in Los Angeles. SEIU, get ready for your next Smack Down!!
I have a suspicion that USC is NOT one of the facilities that Zombie UHW wanted released by the NUHW NLRB...

UPDATE - 2/3 @ 7:30 p.m. - Confirmation from the NLRB!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Q: How Can You Tell a Zombie Is Lying?

A: It's lips are moving.

From a KP source...
Ok it has started in wcr... ths scabs are going around telling everyone that the LA kaiser employees lost their benefits because they voted for nuhw

Those are some SERIOUS sour grapes...

"We Did It!"

Enjoy a bit of video coverage of the SoCal Tsunami...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The LMP Shakedown




It seems Clan Barney isn't too pleased with NUHW leaking details of their Sooper Seekrit Backroom Deals...

(click to embiggen)
Wow. Once again, KaiPerm is trying to get the membership to pay for something that has benefitted management for almost 13 years, and it appears that SEIU has decided to go along for the ride.

Memo to Brave Sir Regan: There is a difference between negotiation and capitulation, ya know.

Right now, SEIU's best financial hope is to get a whole bunch of money transferred into the LMP trust, and into an account that they will still try to control once they get their miserable asses kicked to the curb come June.

For an example of how something like this may well go down, check out the Randy Shaw writeup on how SEIU tried to get control of UNITE/HERE's Amalgamated Bank.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

An Urgent Request

From a member of the Providence Tarzana NUHW crew...
Two nights ago the husband of one our NUHW leaders at Tarzana Medical Center was brutally shot in the head. He is the hospital in very grave condition. Out of respect for the family's privacy I am not mentioning her name. She is a very strong NUHW leader who fought threats of termination and SEIU's bullying in order to see that EVS workers had a fair election. She needs our help now. She has a child with special needs and her family was just getting by before this horrific tragedy.

I am asking everyone who will be at next weeks leadership meeting in L.A. to bring a donation to help her family. This has devastated the workers at Tarzana and we have been collecting money for the past two days but so much more is needed. Give as much as you possibly can.

To those of you who may be attending that leadership meeting, please consider donating anything and everything you can to the family of this true rank-and-file labor leader.

If and when any details regarding a contribution fund are uncovered, they will go up here ASAP.

In the meantime, spread the word that one of our family is in trouble and needs our help.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tasty's Asked the Question...



...anybody got an answer?
Now after 2 huge losses, has it begun?
According to some of the commentary in the LA Times blogs regarding the SoCal Tsunami, it may well have begun...

Dear Brothers and Sisters, on behalf of the 81 organizers brought in from all corners "we apologize", Dave Regan and Anna Burger have threatened our livelihoods for the last time.

We were weak, we all believe in the labor movement, however, after 57 of us have been "laid off, pending review" we seek forgiveness.

While we here at ¡AA! generally subscribe to the notion that it is far better to ask for forgiveness than permission, it is regrettable that the forgiveness had to be asked for after having come out here to be a part of Andy's Zombie Army.

SEIU's Whiteboard of Extinction



Fans of the reimaged Battlestar Galactica will know all about the "Whiteboard of Extinction", upon which the President of the 12 Colonies would write down the number of human survivors remaining after each calamity that would befall the Ragtag Fugitive Fleet at the hands of the Cylons.

Evidently, such a Whiteboard of Extinction may well exist at Zombie UHW Headquarters as well, what with the "UHW Report" coming out today with some very interesting numbers...
Small Kaiser Group Votes to Take Risk with NUHW

Ballots counted Tuesday, January 26 in an election among 2,300 Kaiser professionals, psych-social workers, and RNs show that those workers voted to leave SEIU-UHW to join NUHW. The election only affects this small group in Southern California and not the nearly 50,000 other SEIU-UHW members at Kaiser who are launching the biggest and most active statewide contract campaign in history.

NUHW has put these workers at grave risk for their own purposes. These workers had their raises and benefits locked in for almost two years. Now, they will have to re-bargain their contract on their own in this economic crisis--at the same time Kaiser is cutting healthcare and other costs among management and non-union workers.

Over the past year, 53,464 SEIU members have chosen to stay united in SEIU-UHW for better wages, healthcare, and other benefits. Only 2,600, including the recent Kaiser workers, have chosen NUHW, which still has no members under contract and few resources to fight for workers
As most readers will recall, that number of members who have "chosen to stay united" in Zombie UHW has routinely (at least until today) been "over 55,000" - notwithstanding the fact that a huge chunk of that people having "chosen to stay united" were forced to do so by the NLRB.

It appears that Zombie UHW and SEIU are doubling down on stupid where it comes to their tone and how they come off to others.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hot Off The Presses

...from the NLRB...


(click on image to embiggen)

One Man's Open Letter to SEIU

From the Facebook crew...
MY LETTER TO SEIU--- After celebrating today’s NUHW victories I wanted to thank the people I felt were most responsible for our success. So, here goes.

I would first like to thank Elesio Medina for being the most unqualified person to lead a Trusteeship. You...r lack of leadership, vision, and compassion are what motivate me... every day to lead and support NUHW.

Next I would like to thank the second least qualified person to lead a Trusteeship, Mr. Dave “stake thru the heart”, “old school ass whooping” Regan. They certainly broke the mold when they made you (thank God). Lucky for you that you were born without a conscience, otherwise the disgusting and despicable things that you do and say might actually bother you. Must be a real asset for you.

Next I would like to thank Gerrald Hudson for being a stupid, lying idiot, and a total suck up to Andy Stern, that helps us a lot.

That brings us to Mary Kay “back stabbing liar from hell” Henry. The only person in my life I have ever met that happily dips bullshit in chocolate and covers it with colorful sprinkles and serves it to you with a smile. You should open your own store in the mall, Mary.

And Anna “I wish I had a penis” Burger. Your disdain for members actually wanting to participate in their own future is so written on your face. You cringe at the mere mention of member democracy. Your lust for power and control consumes you the way the power of the ring consumed Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings. And you look like that contorted, bug-eyed freak too.

Ah but the Granddaddy of them all. That’s right, the Grand Poobah of Tyranny himself. Mr. Andrew “control at all costs” Stern. Your obtuse and narrow thinking have brought SEIU and the labor movement to the brink of collapse. Your desperate quest for relevance has blinded you to the reality that surrounds you. You are a small and pitiful man. I want to personally thank you for calling workers, myself included, selfish during our bargaining with our employer. I don’t know what world you live in, where workers who fight to get other workers who have no benefits, health insurance and vacation time are deemed selfish. It must be in a world outside your $300,000 a year Ivory Tower.

Oh, and Andy, thank you very much for mocking us at last year's convention and treating us as insignificant. That really helped us more than you’ll ever know. Again, thanks one and all. Your leadership created NUHW and you should be proud of that. You fucked up SEIU but you brought about the makings of a new and vibrant Labor movement in NUHW.

P.S. Here's your sign


Preach, brotha!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Trusteeship At One Year of Age




I had planned a detailed explanation of just what a disaster the Trusteeship has been for SEIU and UHW, but the nice folks at NUHW beat me to the punch, with their review of where NUHW stands one year after its founding.


Follow the link and you will have an exact layout of the elections won and lost by each party (it's 7-2 for NUHW by the way). The NUHW piece takes a much more optimistic and forward-looking tenor to its report.


I, on the other hand, am a cynical and backward-looking fellow, and in preparing for this "year in review" of UHW, I got a chance to actually read through the archive (as well as that of the dear, departed PerezStern, SonomaRedRevolt and TastySternburger), and I find myself truly appalled at what has gone on with UHW, and what SEIU has done to that once-great organization.


Who in their right mind would have believed that, one year removed from the imposition of the trusteeship, that the remains of UHW, with SEIU's full and complete backing, would have lost five straight elections, and to have the cumulative "no union" vote be almost equal to, if not greater than, the number of people voting to stay with Zombie UHW?


The beginning of the end for Zombie UHW within KaiPerm came much sooner than anyone could have expected, just about two months into the trusteeship, with the sounds of Esquirol Medina's robocall still echoing in my head about how "everything will be the same," and then the form letters went out to all the stewards who did not swear a loyalty oath to SEIU uber alles, and as a result were summarily fired as stewards.


That, in a nutshell, really set the wheels in motion, because as a result of that mass dismissal of stewards, Zombie UHW no longer had the support staff within KaiPerm to withstand the anger of the KaiPerm UHW membership. We've seen the pension giveaway, the allowance of KaiPerm to violate the contract regarding force reductions, the Pharmacy staffing double-cross, and now Zombie UHW's intent to raise dues, combined with Brave Sir Regan's desire to extend the Trusteeship beyond its legally alotted three years.

And so, when finally given an opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter, the SoCal KaiPerm membership told Zombie UHW precisely where it can go and what it should do with itself.


Of course, Zombie UHW remains utterly tone-deaf in this regard, as evinced by the statement that their spokespunk, Steve Trossman, put out in the wake of today's drubbing at the hands of NUHW...



"While today's election results are disappointing, the fact is only about 2,600 SEIU-UHW members have chosen NUHW over the past year, in contrast to more than 55,000 SEIU members who have chosen to stay united in our union.

"What's more, NUHW is seeking to stop union elections for nearly 5,000 hospital, nursing home, and home care members at 42 facilities because they know if the elections take place they will lose. Although the National Labor Relations Board, SEIU-UHW, and several of the employers have all agreed to election dates in early February, NUHW has refused to enter into the agreements.

"The bulk of SEIU-UHW's 50,000 Kaiser members are now launching the largest and most active contract campaign in history with the full support of the union's 150,000 California health care members. SEIU-UHW members at Kaiser are also part of the 100,000-member Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, and expect to be at the bargaining table this spring as part of the coalition to negotiate a new national agreement.

"Meanwhile, NUHW has put these workers at grave risk because they will no longer be part of the Kaiser coalition and will have to try to bargain a contract on their own."
That bulk of Zombie UHW's 50,000 Kaiser members are already chomping at the bit to get out of SEIU's grip, and today's results will only double down on that desire. It is the height of arrogance for Trossman to think that he speaks for those of us who are stuck in Zombie UHW, because in about five months UHW is going to (once again) get kicked to the curb. The only way for Zombie UHW to preserve its position within KaiPerm is to check its hubris, up its humility, and take a good, hard look at what it is doing to the membership - because for damn sure it's not doing anything FOR the membership.

And now it is apparent that SEIU and UHW-West are going to prove to everyone around that they are the sore losers that they now appear to be, by forbidding admittance of a legally and duly-elected union in the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.

So Happy Freekin' Birthday to the SEIU-UHW West Trusteeship. You all have quite a track record built up so far.

Analysis of the KaiPerm SoCal Vote Count

First, I think a video is in order here...

"SEIU Organizing - An Interpretive Dance"


Okay, then.

There is no amount of polish that will be able to put a shine on what just happened to Zombie UHW today. Three bargaining units, all overwhelmingly voting for NUHW.

The cumulative vote today was 1652 for NUHW, 254 for Zombie UHW, and 33 for neither entity.

Put another way - of a total of 1939 valid votes cast today, only 13.1% were cast for the vaunted, long-standing, nationally powerful SEIU-UHW West.

In the meantime, the broken-down-before-it-even-starts-up newcomer to the race, NUHW, picked up a cool 85.2% of the vote today.

In Randy Shaw's article yesterday, he mentioned that John Borsos had called Zombie UHW's performance at SRMH almost exactly (Borsos had it at 15, it was really 13), and he predicted a 60% margin for NUHW over UHW - that margin actually turned out to be 70% and change.

The pro-SEIU voices (what there are of them) are predictably silent today, while the NUHW folks, especially those on the ground down in SoCal, are rightfully jubilant at today's results.

It will take a day or three to fully digest what went on today, but as it stands right now, SEIU and Zombie UHW are in a world of hurt, which they have have brought entirely upon themselves with bad service, bad negotiation, bad agreements, and a generally bad attitude toward their customers.

This election result today should come as a shock to nobody outside of Our Glorious Maximum Leader's syncophantic E-board.

Look for Brave Sir Regan and Esquirol Medina to suddenly find themselves with other more pressing matters within SEIU while the dust settles from this interstellar ass-kicking they received at the hands of NUHW.

LiveBlog of Vote Count

Courtesy of Paul Delahanty at Calitics...
http://calitics.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=10987

So far...

Today marks the ballot count for elections held among three Southern California Kaiser chapters representing 2,300 healthcare workers.

The the three chapters are:
-Kaiser Sunset/LAMC RNs -Southern California Kaiser Psychsocial Professionals -Southern California Kaiser Healthcare Professionals
The counting should get underway soon, so here we go!

All parties have arrived at the Los Angeles Headquarters of the NLRB at 888 Figueroa Street and NUHW is represented with a strong showing of supporters who've gathered in anticipation of the ballot count.

We'll have more updates as I get them. In the meantime, if you haven't read Randy Shaw's excellent article on this election, you should.

And of course, visit NUHW Solidarity on Facebook to catch the latest from NUHW activists.

Updated 9:30am: The ballots are being separated into three separate counts in three separate conference rooms at the NLRB. That means the count process will happen simultaneously for all three chapters. Things should get going soon.

Update 9:45am: The box containing RN ballots being opened now. It was signed by dozens of nurses when it was sealed on Jan. 7th.

Update 10:00am: The Healthcare Professionals ballot count room is now beginning process as well.

Update 10:15am: Word is: all three ballot counts are close to being underway. NUHW supporters awaiting word are hopeful and quiet.

Update 10:30am: RN counting underway!

Update 10:40am: Lots of people wearing RED and NUHW buttons at the NLRB today. One person on the ground reports: "What's amazing about the crowd is there are NUHW activists from every corner of Southern California, Kaiser and Non-Kaiser alike."

Update 10:50am: The Healthcare Professionals ballot count is now underway. The RN ballot count is in full swing as well.

Update 11:00am: Healthcare Professionals still counting. RN counting is well along.

Update 11:15am: Report from RN ballot count: Kaiser Sunset RNs vote to NUHW! Final Count: 746 NUHW, 36 SEIU 3 Neither

Update 11:20am: Kaiser Sunset/LAMC RNs vote to join NUHW!!!

Update 11:30 am: FINAL Healthcare Professionals ballot count 189 NUHW, 29 SEIU, 13 Neither.

Update 11:35am: Kaiser SoCal Healthcare Professionals vote to join NUHW!! Report from the ground is that workers supporting NUHW are happy and celebrating.

Update 12:00 Noon: Kaiser Psychsocial Professionals ballot count is underway. No word yet on when we will hear the final result.

Update 12:30pm: while we are waiting, and it could be a several hours, for the Psychsocial results here's a link to an article on this election from In These Times.

Update 1pm: Word is that the intitial procedures are complete and they may begin counting Kaiser Psychsocial chapter ballots soon. It is the largest chapter of the three, with 1058 members who work at 89 different facilities and clinics across Southern California. We will keep you up to date.

Update 2:30pm: Labor Notes covers NUHW victories. And we're still waiting on news from the Psychsocial Chapter ballot count.

Update 2:45pm: And...the Pyschsocial Chapter ballot count is beginning.

Update 3:15: Hundreds of ballots in the 1050 member unit have been counted. We're getting close here. Remember, SEIU conceded defeat in all three elections before the first ballot was counted for this chapter.

Update 3:45 PM: NUHW is buzzing with excitement in expectation of three decisive victories. Here in the North the office is beginning to stream with visitors.

Update 4:00 PM: It's OFFICIAL. NUHW Wins: SoCal Kaiser Psychsocial chapter joins NUHW!

Final count: 717 NUHW, 192 SEIU, 7 Neither
_____________


Many thanks go out to Paul Delahanty for his coverage of this historical event in California labor relations. I'll have thoughts and analysis in a later posting.

Monday, January 25, 2010

SoCal Kaiser Vote Count Update



From one of my Facebook sources...

Per John Borsos, NUHW VP: We were just notified by the NLRB that the board has DENIED seiu and Kaiser's request for review meaning the ballot count will commence at 9 am tomorrow. Onward to victory.

Remember, folks - these are the same folks who are wetting their collective undies because NUHW wants elections to go forward for ALL petitions, not just the ones that SEIU can pick and choose.

And they are now on record as trying to suppress the outcome of this vote before the votes are even counted.

The True Genius of Google

So I get to my Gmail box, and I see this...





Nothing much out of the ordinary, until I notice that there's something in the "Spam" folder (a quite rare occurrence for a site such as mine). So I open up the "Spam" folder and I see...



Way to go, Zombies. Now Google thinks you're putting out spam.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fear The Turtle, An Update

Some other folks associated with the University of Maryland have had a chance to weigh in on the story of the SEIU-paid stooge and visiting professor to their University who put out a letter to some members of Zombie UHW under the letterhead of the University of Maryland. Not to put too fine a point on it, the University is NOT pleased...


A professor at the University of Maryland, College Park is facing conflict-of- interest questions after he used university letterhead to deliver a legal opinion in his role as a consultant to a labor union.

Fred Feinstein, an adjunct professor at the School of Public Policy, wrote a letter saying that California health care employees could jeopardize their contract benefits if they left Service Employees International for a competing union. Feinstein received $240,000 in consulting fees from SEIU in 2007 and 2008, which he did not mention in the Jan. 12 letter that was distributed as a flier in the continuing union battle.

Officials of the rival National Union of Healthcare Workers say Feinstein implied that he was speaking for the university and thus compromised its academic objectivity. The Web site Inside Higher Ed first reported Feinstein's role in the conflict.

College Park officials said Feinstein violated university policy by writing the opinion on official letterhead. He signed the letter as a "senior fellow and visiting professor."

"Mr. Feinstein violated university procedures by improperly using university letterhead in the course of his outside work," Donald F. Kettl, dean of the School of Public Policy, said in a statement. "This activity was wholly unrelated to his work at the University of Maryland, which has no involvement or stake in this outside matter. He should not have written the material on university letterhead nor invoked his title as a university employee. In addition, he should have disclosed the payment he received from one of the parties in the issue on which he commented."

Kettl said he reprimanded Feinstein in writing and asked him to inform all recipients of the SEIU letter that he was not speaking for the university.

Mr. Feinstein, for his part, is convinced that the fault lies not with himself, but with us and our lyin' eyes for even making an issue of this obvious conflict of interest...


Feinstein, a former general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, said he made a mistake using the letterhead but said the competing union, NUHW, is trying to exploit his carelessness to get a leg up in the bitter labor battle.

"I wasn't as conversant as I should have been with the guidelines for using letterhead," Feinstein said. "It was an unfortunate oversight. But this is part of a pretty intense battle, no holds barred, and I think it's important to understand that context."

Feinstein said he stands behind the opinion he delivered and doubts that the letterhead made much difference to workers reading the document.

Feinstein's consulting, a matter of public record because of union financial filings, does not violate his contract as a part-time professor, Kettl said. Feinstein said he felt no need to disclose his relationship with SEIU in the letter, because readers would understand without being told that it is a lawyer's job to deliver opinions on behalf of paying clients.
Translation - it's up to the reader of that letter (on UMD letterhead) to know, beforehand, that Feinstein is SEIU's paid stooge so that we can discount the fact that the letter is, indeed, written on UMD letterhead, and Feinstein's signature is slugged with his UMD title.

Only then can we understand the True Brilliance of Feinstein's Completely Neutral Analysis.

Color me amazed that such a person is in the employ of Our Glorious Maximum Leader.

What You Leave Behind

I have previously reported on the efforts of Monty Kroopkin to enact reform down at one of SEIU's SoCal FrankenLocals, this one being 221 down in San Diego County. Now, anywhere you see a SEIU local "xx21", that's a pretty good indicator that the local has been merged out of a bunch of smaller locals by Our Glorious Maximum Leader, whereupon he decides who will run said merged local - and with SEIU, 100% of the time that person is somebody from Andy's inner circle, and almost all the time that person has no experience with that particular area.

And so was the case with the Stern-appointed president of FrankenLocal 221, in which Andy Stern appointed Sharon-Frances Moore to head that local comprised of San Diego County Employees, based (apparently) largely on her ability to host a quality fundraising party in the Tribeca section of New York.

Her efforts down at 221 were rewarded with "re-election" to her post as President of SEIU 221 last July. The details of that "election" merit some very specific study, in that a substantial amount of the eligible voters for that election did not receive their ballots, but almost all of the Moore supporters DID receive their ballots. But now, roughly six months after being "re-elected" to head 221, Sharon-Frances Moore has resigned as President of SEIU 221 for "personal reasons," according to the U-Trib's article.

But, as always with The Purple Plague, there's more to the story. The people who stepped in to fill the "void" left by Ms. Moore, who were also on her re-election slate last July, kicked things off down at 221 with a bang...

The Local 221 Acting President, James Slade, began tonight’s Executive Board meeting by “entertaining” a motion to “suspend the rules”. The motion passed, 7-2. Slade then announced that he, as chair of the meeting, would not recognize any non-board members to speak. The union’s constitution expressly states that members of the union have the right to be recognized and to be heard at Executive Board meetings. Although procedural rules adopted by the board may be suspended, the board has no authority to suspend the union’s constitution.

The constitution expressly provides that “The meetings of this Local Union shall be governed by Roberts Rules of Order” and “Subject to reasonable application, no provision of these Bylaws, rule of parliamentary procedure, or action by the Union or its officers shall be administered in such a way as to deprive individual members of the following rights: …The right to appear and be heard by the Executive Board of the Local Union.”

During the course of the meeting, a number of members did seek to be recognized or to make points of order, and Slade claimed they were out of order. He went further and said, at one point, that members who would not stop trying to speak would be held to be “insubordinate”. Members are not employed by the union and cannot be held to be “insubordinate.” Members pay union dues and support an annual union budget of more than $7 million dollars, and have legal rights of participation under both state and federal laws, as well as the union constitution and bylaws.

Slade also “ordered” the union’s paid staff to leave the room. They all did so, but the senior staff then returned to the room and stated that under the Local Union’s constitution and bylaws, the senior staff are dues paying members of the union, and cannot be forced to leave a normal meeting of the Executive Board. Using his new power as Acting President, Slade then told the senior staff that if they did not obey his order for them to leave the room that they would be “insubordinate”. Staff can be fired or disciplined for insubordination. The President of the union has hiring and firing power over the union’s paid staff. The staff did leave the room, under protest.

The Executive Board then approved a severance package including more than $107,000 in severance pay to Moore. The package, which was not provided to the board in written final form, was said to also include a waiver of Moore’s right to exercise her rights regarding any liability of the union.

The Acting President then informed the meeting that the union’s constitutional provision for division of the president’s powers would be implemented, because he works full time for the city of National City and is not willing to assume the president’s duties as a full-time job. The union’s constitution provides that the powers will be shared between the Vice-President, the Treasurer and the Secretary of the Local Union.

However, the position of Secretary has been vacant since July 2009 when Secretary Omar Lopez took a job at San Diego State University, and was therefore no longer a member of the union. Slade announced that one of the Executive Board members, Richard Lovett, would be “Acting Secretary” and would share the presidential powers. The union’s constitution does not allow the President to make any such appointment to fill a vacancy on the board. Only a vote of the Executive Board can fill a vacancy, and there has been no such vote.

Members are questioning if the severance package deal is “hush money” and asking if the union’s officials are trying to avoid another major press scandal over allegations of misuse of union funds.

The meeting was video taped, and members have the right to view the tape at the union hall.

The Local Union’s Constitution and Bylaws are available at the union’s website at
http://www.seiu221.org/bylaws/Default.aspx
The above incident evidently was too much even for Our Glorious Maximum Leader to stomach...

I have received a number of complaints raising serious allegations regarding the approval of a payment to the former President of Local 221, the approval of a consulting agreement with the former President of Local 221, the exercise of executive authority at the local union, and the conduct of the local union meeting held on January 19, 2010.

In addition, charges against Local 221 based on the matters contained in the complaints have been received by the International Union.

Pursuant to my authority under Article VIII, Section 7(g) of the SEIU Constitution and Bylaws, I have appointed Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina and SEIU Organizing Coordinator Ray Dzialo to be my Personal Representatives to Local 221 to assist Local 221 in meeting its internal needs (including investigation of these allegations), and to attend local union meetings.

I have directed my representatives to report to me within 30 days on the situation in Local 221.

In the interim, I counsel the Local 221 officers and Executive Board not to
execute or implement the challenged payments and contract at this time.
So good news and bad news for the rank-and-file of 221. The good news is that even Andy Stern can be forced to listen when confronted with overwhelming evidence.

The bad news is that the folks down at 221 now have Esquirol Medina on hand to "help" them, while establishing a sub-rosa trusteeship without the benefit of even a kangaroo court investigation.

And speaking from personal experience as a soon-to-be-former member of Zombie UHW, Medina's "help" can frequently leave much to be desired.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fear The Turtle



So what's a major university Back East got to do with the goings on in Hotel California?

Well, it seems that one of their visiting professors, who also was the lead counsel for the NLRB during the Clinton Administration, penned an "open letter" to the membership of Zombie UHW (strange, that letter hasn't made its way to NorCal KaiPerm yet, so maybe it's just running around SoCal and other areas where elections be happening), in which he suggests that "California health care workers could receive “less favorable” benefits if they left SEIU for another union."

One problem with that, though - this "professor" wrote that letter under the letterhead of the University of Maryland...



...while failing to disclose in that letter that he is also a paid stooge of Our Glorious Maximum Leader.

Even worse, he also apparently wrote this letter without the knowledge or consent of the Board of Governors of the University of Maryland, and in so doing breached longstanding university policy on such matters, according to an article on the E-zine Inside Higher Ed.

William Powers, executive dean of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, said Wednesday that Feinstein “violated university policy” with his actions.

“In writing and submitting the letter, Mr. Feinstein was not acting within his role as a university faculty member but in his personal capacity as an adviser to the union,” Powers wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. “It was thus a mistake for him to use university letterhead or in any other way to imply that the university was engaged in this matter or stood behind his opinions."

Powers went on to say that the university would be “firmly informing” Feinstein that he’d violated university policy, adding that Feinstein will need to tell recipients of the letter that he wasn’t acting as a faculty member when he rendered the opinion.

While Powers affirms that university policy was violated by use of the letterhead, he would not say whether Feinstein violated conflict of interest policies that govern consulting or other outside work.
Of course, "Professor" Feinstein sees nothing wrong at all with his actions, or the light into which it has cast the University for which he serves as a visiting fellow...

Reached by phone Wednesday, Feinstein said he was perplexed that his memo had caused such a stir. What’s wrong with a lawyer taking money for giving his advice, he asked?

“I was asked by SEIU, who I am a consultant to, for my legal opinion, on this question,” he said. “The fact that I am a consultant to SEIU and paid as such is a matter of public record.”

That’s true. Unions file annual reports with the U.S. Department of Labor that require disclosure of compensation, and Feinstein’s payments are listed in 2007 and 2008 reports. There has been much discussion of late, however, about whether disclosures of potential conflicts in public documents are sufficient, or if instead professors have an obligation to take additional steps -- say an overt mention of conflicts in their writings and publications -- to ensure transparency.

“This isn’t an instance of a researcher saying this is a good drug or this is a good company," Feinstein said. "It’s more of a technical thing that’s going on here, saying what is the law.”

As for the matter of using university letterhead, Feinstein didn’t make much of that either.

“Obviously I’m not speaking on behalf of the University of Maryland,” he said. “Anyone who suggests that’s implied [by the letterhead] of course is incorrect. That’s a stretch.”

The reader is referred once again to the image of the letter above as to whether or not the backing of the University of Maryland is either explicit or implicit in his letter.

Check also the opinions on this matter rendered by both Tasty and Keyser's Red Revolt.

The Tribe Has Spoken...



...it's time for you to go.

Hospital admits NUHW won majority in union election, agrees on challenged ballots

"Sour grapes": With less than 3% of vote, defeated SEIU still trying to stand in workers' way

Santa Rosa, Calif.—One month after a hotly contested union election at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, both hospital management and the newly-elected National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) have agreed to accept a determination by the federal government that resolves the question of 13 challenged ballots and gives the new union an absolute majority.

"There's no question that my co-workers and I are joining NUHW," said Melissa Bosanco, a care partner at the hosptial. "We voted NUHW because we want a voice to make our hospital a better place to work and a better place for our community to get care."

The National Labor Relations Board determined that 12 of the 17 challenged ballots should not be counted because the voters were not eligible under the rules of the election; another ballot will not be counted because of stray marks on the ballot. The four challenged ballots left unresolved are not enough to affect the final result: 283 votes for NUHW, 263 for No Union, and 13 for SEIU.

Both the union and hospital management have signed an agreement accepting to the labor board's determination, but the defeated SEIU, which tried unsuccessfully to interfere in the election, has not. After being soundly rejected by more than 96 percent of voters, SEIU officials are still refusing to accept the outcome, a move that could cause another short delay for workers hoping to get to the bargaining table as soon as possible.

"Isn't that the worst case of sour grapes?" asked Bosanco. "SEIU said they cared about workers at our hospital, but it looks like they were just lying to try to get our votes."

Memorial Hospital management is still pressing forward with objections to the election, claiming that workers were confused when they voted for union representation. Those objections could be dismissed within weeks.

Elected officials and religious leaders have called on hospital management to drop its objections, including Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, State Senators Mark Leno and Pat Wiggins, Assemblymembers Jared Huffman, Noreen Evans, and Wes Chesbro, local Catholic leader Monsignor John Brenkle, and former Sister of St. Joseph of Orange JoAnn Consiglieri.
It is not surprising to see a certain lack of grace regarding this outcome from SEIU. However, much like the drubbing the Purple Plague took at Doctor's, they just can't seem to wrap their minds around the concept of people rejecting their brand and their leadership.

13 votes, children. You seriously cannot expect to hold up this election having gotten a grand total of 13 votes out of almost 600 cast.

The tribe has spoken, Andy, and it's time for you and your cloven-hooved minions to go.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reganomics

Imagine you are running a company with an economic problem. Your long-term contracted customers are unhappy with the level of service that you currently provide. They intensely disagree with some of the decisions that your upper management has made on their behalf. They are being offered the opportunity to switch a viable, less expensive, and better-operated competitor by the end of the year, once the contract expires and there is a window to switch.

Given the above, most self-interested companies would try to do some combination of any of the following three strategies in order to keep the existing customer base:
A) Improve service to your customer base.
B) Cut the rates that you charge to your customer base.
C) Improve communication with your customer base.

As is readily apparent to the normal reader, though, Zombie UHW is most decidedly NOT a normal, self-interested company - so much so that they have determined that they are going to raise their representation rates, and they are planning to do so WITHOUT a vote of their customers (the rank-and-file membership), even though in past practice such raises were required to be voted upon and approved by the workers.


(click to embiggen)

Read the whole flyer, and prepare to be appalled. Paying KaiPerm a per-hour portion of your salary just to be part of LMP. Not fighting at bargaining time. Wanting to extend the trusteeship. Unbelievable.

And for all that, Brave Sir Regan wants a dues INCREASE.

The only rational explanation for the above is that SEIU and Zombie UHW know that they are going to lose Kaiser statewide to NUHW, and SEIU is just looking to get as much loot out of the KaiPerm workers as possible while they still can.

It is also entirely possible that Brave Sir Regan actually believes that his leadership of Zombie UHW thus far actually merits an increase in dues payments - but that's not rational.

Friday, January 15, 2010

There Is No Rational Midground...

...or at least, so sez NUHW's lawyer, and he's absolutely correct.

So what're we getting into? Well, as reported here before, Zombie UHW put out a presser demanding that elections go forward in a select few locations where they themselves, in their own words, "filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the NLRB that blocked the elections, citing employer abuses and NUHW misconduct that seriously jeopardized workers' rights."

Understandably, NUHW's position was to tell SEIU to go pound sand, that the NLRB should open up ALL the contested locations to election, not just those that Zombie UHW wanted open.

Not surprisingly, Zombie UHW put out a presser, professing shock and surprise, and stating that NUHW was now "attempting to stop union elections for more than 4000 workers." I was concerned that Zombie UHW was trying to set up a rhetorical trap for NUHW, in that the side that has been most clamoring for elections would now be put in the awkward position of asking that selective elections be withheld until all blocking charges be either fully adjudiciated or dismissed. As it turns out, I was correct to have that fear...
In a stunning turnaround, the ousted leaders of the Service Employees International Union - United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) now say they want to stop union elections for more than 4,000 workers because giving the workers a democratic vote would be "unfair."


In a letter to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), a group started by the ousted leaders, is insisting that elections be halted at 29 hospitals and nursing homes unless the board capitulates to their demands for elections at other facilities.

"They are hypocrites. Last week NUHW officials were complaining that elections were not scheduled, and this week they are complaining because elections are going to be scheduled," said Romel Gorospe, an Emergency Room Technician at Sutter Solano Medical Center. "They have been trying to ruin things in my hospital for almost a year, and we're ready to vote them out."


"They obviously know that if these elections are held they will lose," said David Esparza, a dietary aide at Windsor Gardens of Salinas.. "If they don't want to go forward with elections they should withdraw their election petitions and leave us alone once and for all."

Fortunately, the folks at NUHW are (not surprisingly) a move or two ahead of both me and Andy's Zombie Army, and was ready to hit back with their own presser - and was prepared once again to back up their reasons with facts, rather than just boilerplated palaver...
After a year of stalling union elections for more than 100,000 of their own members to quit SEIU, SEIU officials have cast themselves as champions of democracy in a cynical move to manipulate the election schedule in their favor. Since last February, SEIU has blocked or delayed elections at more than 360 healthcare facilities in California where caregivers are organizing to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

"In election after election, healthcare workers have chosen NUHW," said Kathleen Volle, a respiratory therapist at St. Louise Regional Hospital in Santa Clara County. "SEIU knows their days are numbered and they're trying to grab anything they can on their way out."

SEIU's latest move comes just a week after 70 percent of nurses at Kaiser Permanente's flagship Los Angeles hospital pledged their votes to NUHW in a government-supervised election—and just one month since workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital chose NUHW 283-to-13 in what the Los Angeles Times called "a crushing defeat for the SEIU."

For almost a year, SEIU has filed frivolous charges with the labor board to try to deny workers a choice. In June, SEIU President Andy Stern told the Los Angeles Times that his organization had a "legal responsibility" to try to stop these elections.1 But yesterday, SEIU asked the board to withdraw SEIU's charges at a small number of facilities where SEIU believes it has a chance of winning, so that those elections would be scheduled first, before more SEIU members vote to join NUHW.

At the same time, SEIU is struggling to explain to the labor board why the exact same charges they're trying to withdraw should continue to block elections for the majority of workers who want to join NUHW.

"SEIU has made the same ridiculous charges everywhere to avoid a fair election," said Ami Fanaika, an licensed vocational nurse at Seton Medical Center in Daly City, where SEIU is still trying to deny workers a choice. "Now they want to pick and choose who gets to vote. SEIU should stop trying to divide healthcare workers and get out of our way."

In a letter to the NLRB2, NUHW attorney Jonathan Siegel explained that out of the 51 petitions that workers filed to join NUHW on February 2 of 2009, SEIU has filed a request to selectively proceed with only 12 of those elections "with no rhyme or reason except their obvious strategic belief that these are favorable playing fields."

At the Daughters of Charity Health System, SEIU has requested to proceed with elections at only two of the four facilities in the system, even though workers at all four facilities bargain together. Within the Sutter Health system, SEIU has requested to proceed at only one out of six facilities where workers have sought to join NUHW.
Gee, whiz - only requesting two out of four DOCHS hospitals to go forward, even though all four vote collectively. Only wanting one out of six Sutter Health hospitals to go forward with an election - while the other five are made to wait. Yep, that's SEIU-style democracy for ya.

I would encourage the reader to read the entirety of the Siegel letter to the Labor Board, but there is one passage that stands out, toward the end of the letter, which must be highlighted...
The position of the NUHW in these matters is simple:

a. We believe that all petitions should be unblocked, and the parties should sit down together with the Regional Directors of the respective Regions and work out a reasonable schedule for the holding of all blocked elections. Sufficient time has passed since the alleged ULP's for any possible "taint" to be dissipated; or

b. In the alternative, and the much less preferred one, we believe that the Regional Directors should reject the requests to proceed on such an obviously manipulative and selective basis. The NLRB Case Handling Manual, Part 2, Representation Proceedings § 11731.1(c)). If the generalized conduct alleged really necessitates blocking elections, it is the same for all filed facilities. Or, alternatively, as we believe, the conduct does not justify blocking any elections. There is no rational midground.

Indeed, the NUHW believes that the long passage of time since these petitions were filed has given an unfair and undue advantage to the incumbent already. The calendar has been manipulated in favor of incumbency in a gross way. Proceeding on only those elections which the intervenor chooses, without any factual, legal or logical rationale other than the intervenor's desire to determine the process only prejudices us further. This is an obvious and naked strategic gambit based on their apparent internal assessment as to where they have some chance of succeeding. That is not a legal basis for a Regional Director to accept a request to proceed.
(snip)
Thus, again, we believe you should either unblock all the elections or not accept the request to proceed on this basis. Alternatively, we would support the issuance of an Order to Show Cause to all parties to further brief and address these issues before moving forward further on the requests to proceed.
(points of emphasis by me)

Note how the NUHW lawyer is repeatedly asking that ALL elections should be unblocked. Not some, not just the ones in NorCal hospitals, not just Kaiser facilities, but ALL petitions should come down. SEIU believes otherwise. Based on the above, the question of which side believes more in democracy is left to the reader.

Now, nobody reading this should expect anything other than rank cynicism when it comes to SEIU and its former outspoken local but now loyal dogsbody in Zombie UHW. The NUHW position is attempting to place sunshine (the world's best disinfectant) on ALL of the blocking charges, not just those that SEIU can pick-and-choose as their best option for a desperately needed victory over NUHW.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hell Hath No Fury...

...like Jane Hamsher scorned. (h/t to Tasty for this one)

An E-zine columnist has picked up on some of the unique ways that Hurricane Jane Hamsher (she of Firedoglake.com fame) has been fighting against the compromise going on in health care reform, while at the same time bonding (at least temporarily) with Grover Norquist over her request that Rahm Emanuel be investigated, and has penned a semi-fictitious "Dear God" letter that Andy's Ex might have written to The Almighty, given the chance...
I didn’t know if the world turned upside down or my moral compass lost its magnetism. That’s what I get for sleeping with Andy Stern, I guess. To make matters worse, something within me wants the personal attacks on me to continue. This feeling alone has caused me to reconsider my place within the progressive political community.
Ouch One. Here comes Ouch Two...
If there’s anything I learned from Andy, it’s that you don’t need balls to get shit done around here. A good grip will do.


Yee-haw. Nothing like Our Glorious Maximum Leader having even satirical shots being tossed at him from the left side of the aisle.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Move, Countermove




Lost in the noise of the prior week was a Zombie UHW presser, in which they indicated that they would be pressing for elections "as soon as possible" at several facilites throughout Northern California, and which may represent a change in Zombie tactics given their recent spate of losses down south and in Santa Rosa...

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Healthcare workers at 26 California hospitals and nursing homes are seeking elections to join more than 55,000 other union members who have already chosen to stay united in the Service Employees International Union - United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), rather than switch to an organization formed by the union's ousted leaders.

The SEIU-UHW members are asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to schedule the elections as soon as possible so they can continue to improve their jobs and patient care without the distraction of another organization in their facilities.

During the past year, petitions seeking decertification of SEIU-UHW as the workers' union were filed with the NLRB by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), an organization formed by the union's former officials who were ousted in January 2009. SEIU-UHW members filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the NLRB that blocked the elections, citing employer abuses and NUHW misconduct that seriously jeopardized workers' rights.

In many places, members have negotiated strong new contracts that lock in raises and benefits for up to three years - improvements that would be put directly at risk if workers were to leave SEIU. In others, NUHW is creating division as contracts are being bargained - a situation that management is trying to take advantage of. Members have decided the time has come to get NUHW out of their affairs and end the division.

"NUHW did nothing but help management as we fought to win strong new contract protections," said Tami Garver, an environmental services worker at O'Connor Hospital in San Jose. "We've spent the last year cleaning up the confusion and mess left by the leadership that was thrown out and now we just want NUHW and their disruption to go away."

"I'm excited that we're finally going to be able to vote for our union - SEIU-UHW - and put the distraction of NUHW behind us," said Sandra Newman, a certified nurse assistant at Sunbridge Heritage Care Center in Stockton, CA.


Note the section in bold up above - these are facilities which have had successful NUHW petition drives, but were delayed by Zombie UHW blocking charges, and the Zombies are now requesting that those blocking charges be vacated such that elections can be conducted "as soon as possible."

Up until now, SEIU has been fighting every election tooth-and-nail. And as such, courtesy of a very compliant NLRB, the elections have been happening very rarely, and certainly only one at a time. This has allowed NUHW to concentrate its organization efforts in relatively few locations - with much greater effectiveness than anybody at SEIU or Zombie UHW are willing to let on in their presser above.

Is SEIU and Zombie UHW now going to try to "flood" out a bunch of elections in the hope of catching NUHW too thin in multiple locations to conduct an effective organization?

And will NLRB now just wave the magic wand and allow these elections to go forward notwithstanding disposition of all these charges SEIU has made - and will NLRB just allow the facilities mentioned above, or will they allow the full content of petitions to go forward?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another Day, Another ULP

Just got this one in from a reader down in the Bay Area...

Friends - after only three days of voting, SEIU acknowledges it's headed towards a defeat in the Kaiser elections. As you'll see in the email below, SEIU yesterday filed NLRB charges in a desperate effort to delay the vote count and challenge the election results. Rest assured that we'll make every effort to ensure that Kaiser workers' ballots are counted on the 26th.

As many of you have experienced, the support for NUHW is truly overwhelming. For example, in the days before the election, 70% of the RNs signed their names to a public petition in support of NUHW.

As for SEIU, it appears that after their experience at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, they're now trying to preemptively block the ballot count rather than face another landslide victory by NUHW. SEIU's actions will be seen for what they are: a sign of weakness and another failed attempt to stop workers from exercising their democratic vote.

Keep up the great work and let's make sure that every NUHW supporter in the Professional units gets a chance to vote.

Sal

Whazzat? SEIU's already filing charges regarding this election - and it isn't even done yet? Well, let's take a look at SEIU's "charges," shall we?
This week Kaiser RNs completed voting on January 6 and 7th, and the ballots have now been impounded by the NLRB. Healthcare Professionals and Psych-Social Workers have received their mail-in ballots which must be received by the NLRB by January 25. The ballots in all units may or may not be counted at that time depending on the decision of the National Board in Washington, D.C. In either case, the final results of this election could be in question due to the actions of NUHW staff.

Before and during the election process NUHW staff engaged in behavior that undermined the democratic process, interfered with patient care and threatened SEIU-UHW members. Kaiser Management initiated a number of unlawful policy changes that allowed NUHW to operate in ways that compromised our workplace.

SEIU-UHW has filed the following Unfair Labor Practice charges:

Unilateral change and unlawful application of access policy

* Kaiser allowed NUHW staff to conduct meetings in non-public areas: Kaiser's policy states that only Kaiser employees, vendors or people with business with the hospital (patients, patient visitors, etc) can access Kaiser facilities except for public cafeterias and other places where commercial business is conducted. NUHW staff has routinely accessed patient care and other non-public areas of the facilities to conduct meetings, in some instances with the explicit authorization of Kaiser Management.
* Kaiser allowed the distribution of unauthorized materials: Kaiser's access policy clearly states that there shall be no distribution of unauthorized materials on Kaiser's premises by anyone - employees or non-employees. NUHW routinely passed out literature, stickers and posters on Kaiser's premises in violation of the policy and Kaiser has done nothing about it.

Kaiser Management unlawfully negotiating with NUHW

Despite the fact that NUHW is not the bargaining agent of Kaiser employees, Kaiser Management negotiated with NUHW staff and representatives about access issues on December 30.

SEIU-UHW will be filing more charges regarding other unilateral changes that Kaiser has made affecting Kaiser RNs, Healthcare Professionals and Psych-Social Workers in the coming weeks.

Oy.

I can only suppose that part of this is derived from Zombie UHW's definition of "NUHW staff" which is composed almost entirely of rank-and-file activists and former UHW stewards who have decided to side with Team Red. Because NUHW does not have the resources of Zombie UHW and its Purple Plague overlords, we have to do our organizing on the "retail" level, in other words person-to-person, instead of killing entire forests for throwaway hit-piece mailers, and NUHW is smart enough to know the KP staff isn't going to stand for a bunch of Robocalls from back east.

Bottom line - SEIU and Zombie UHW know they are going to lose this election, and in fact may well get very badly mauled similar to what happened at SRMH, and so they are trying to muddy the waters so much that the election effectively is "nixed" until such time as they can get a more favorable ruling from the NLRB in regards to this election.

Zombie UHW no longer has the wontons to stand on its own, and is now merely a proxy organization, a shell entirely subservient to the whims of Our Glorious Maximum Leader and his cloven-hooved minions Esquirol Medina and Brave Sir Regan.

Kaiser Vote Update


This came in through the comments, but I thought this should find its way to the main page...
A report on the ground states that Southern California nurses overwhelmingly voted for NUHW. SEIU cry babies say that this was possible only because the "Phillipino Mafia" got involved and lobbied other nurses to vote for NUHW. What a crock! SEIU was trounced in Southern California. And this is just the beginning. Over the next year, SEIU will realize that they bit off more than they can chew when Andy decided to take on Sal Rosselli and the old UHW. More importantly, it is the members themselves that have handed SEIU this devastating defeat. There will be many more to come.

I'm ordinarily reluctant to post such mid-election reports, but I thought we should see what the SEIU "response" is going to be in the (hopeful) case that they should lose this election, so that measures can be taken to get ahead of the spin.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

BeyondChron's Guest Comment

In yesterday's BeyondChron there was a guest editorial penned by Suzanne Gordon, who quite heartily endorsed NUHW in the upcoming SoCal KaiPerm elections.

Prior to getting into her commentary, I think it worth a look at who Suzanne Gordon is, what her track record is, and whether or not she can just be painted by the Zombies as just another NUHW stooge. Long story short, she isn't...

Suzanne Gordon is an award-winning journalist and author. She has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic Monthly, the American Prospect, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and others. She’s the author of seven books including Life Support: Three Nurses on the Front Lines which was originally published by Little Brown & Co. and which has just been reissued by Cornell University Press with a new forward by Claire Fagin and epilogue by the author; and co-editor of three books and co-author of From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public. Her book on the nursing crisis –Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost Cutting, Media Stereotypes, and Medical Hubris Undermine Nurses and Patient Care — is out in paperback published by Cornell University Press. She is also co-editor ,with Sioban Nelson, of Complexities of Care: Nursing Reconsidered, also by Cornell University Press. Her latest book, Safety in Numbers: Nurse-to-Patient Ratios and the Future of Health Care was published by CUP in April 2008.

She has been a health care commentator in the U.S. for CBS Radio News and Public Radio International’s “Marketplace” business program, and a popular lecturer. She is also Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing and Assistant, Adjunct Professor at the University of California San Francisco’s School of Nursing. Gordon is co-editor of Cornell University Press’s series on the Culture and Politics of Health Care Work.


Given the above bona-fides, here is what Ms. Gordon had to say about the upcoming elections...
RNs today face mounting difficulties. Hospital budget-cutting is once again eliminating the jobs of nurses and increasing their workloads — a trend that may only get worse due to the troubled state of our local economy and “health care reform” in Washington that may fall short of our hopes and needs.

Even at a health care employer as heavily unionized and profitable as Kaiser, we see the danger signs: cost-cutting that could lead to under-staffing and erosion of quality patient care. At such a critical moment, nurses need an organization that can advocate effectively for their own interests and those of their patients.

It has been my long-standing policy not to get involved in organizational decisions involving RNs. I’ve worked with many different nurses’ associations and unions, professional organizations, and specialty groups, in the U.S. and abroad. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, good points and bad. But it is up to nurses themselves to make them better vehicles for achieving personal, professional, and workplace goals.

In this case, however, I feel I must stand up for one union that I have come to know very well and greatly respect. The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) has not abandoned the coalition of patients, care givers, and health care advocates that helped achieve past gains for RNs and their communities in California.

More than ever before, nurses need a union that will fight to uphold California’s landmark safe staffing law. They need a union that will help them be more pro-active in dealing with hospital restructuring, work reorganization, and the introduction of new computer technology. They need a union that can make labor-management relations at Kaiser a real partnership again, rather than an LMP dominated by people who are not — and in some cases, have never been — bedside nurses.

I believe that having a democratic union, responsive to both professional issues and day-to-day job concerns, is the only way to improve the status and role of nursing within KP. Just as RNs seek to build good working relationships with doctors and administrators — based on recognition of their skill, experience, and professional autonomy — working nurses also deserve the same kind of respect from the organization that negotiates and administers their union contract, while collecting dues from them in return.

Size alone does not guarantee union effectiveness or greater responsiveness to the membership. A bargaining unit run by and for its own members, relying on their professional dedication, creativity, and ideas, can move mountains.

The current campaign to restore a real “voice at work” for RNs and other care-givers at Kaiser in California is important for nurses everywhere. I look forward to working with you and other members of NUHW, now and in the future.


The lack of independent voices who will speak on the behalf of Zombie UHW is kinda glaring. Almost all of the independent contributors to the discussion have come in on the side of NUHW.