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...

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
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...'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


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.
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... 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 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.


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.


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.

Misery Loves Company

From one of my anonymous Facebook sources...

Hey seiu, I've got a great idea! You should totally get the "Lead organizer" that ran the Santa Rosa campaign to "Lead" in Salinas! Wait, you did! Good work! Seiu always learning from their mistakes! :)

I'm sure that the ideas that led to SEIU's 13-vote performance in Santa Rosa will do wonders down at Salinas Valley.

KP Professionals Explain the Issues...

Courtesy of NUHW, here's where you can hear the KP professionals in their own voices, explaining the issues relating to this election...

Jim Clifford, Therapist, KP - San Diego - MP3
Tessie Costales, Registered Nurse, KP - Sunset/LAMC - MP3
Marty Needleman, Psychiatric Social Worker, KP - Fontana - MP3
Stacy Eldridge, Registered Dietitian, KP - Bakersfield - MP3

Healthcare professionals at nearly one hundred Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics are voting today to switch unions. They say their old union, the Service Employees union or S-E-I-U, has shut them out of negotiations with employers—and cut deals that hurt healthcare workers and their patients.

The 2,300 workers include registered nurses, therapists, dietitians, and psychiatric social workers across Southern California. They’re part of an exodus of more than 100,000 S-E-I-U members who are organizing to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers, or N-U-H-W.

The movement began almost a year ago, when S-E-I-U officials from Washington, D.C. took over California’s healthcare union and put themselves in charge. Healthcare workers formed N-U-H-W as a way to regain control of their union and have a stronger voice at work.

A majority of Kaiser workers asked the labor board to vote on the switch last February, but the S-E-I-U was able to stall the election and stop them from leaving—until now. Registered nurses at Kaiser Sunset are voting at work today and tomorrow; other professionals are voting by mail over the next two weeks. The ballots will be counted on January 26.

An even bigger election is expected later this year, when the rest of Kaiser’s 50,000 California employees will be eligible to vote.

It's too bad that we're going to have to wait for almost three weeks to hear the results. In the meantime, let's be optimistic and let these people explain the issues as they see them.

Kaiser LAMC Nurses Voting Underway

The voting has started for the nurses' unit at Kaiser LAMC, and the ballots have been mailed out to the Healthcare Professionals and the Psychosocial groups.

I believe that counts won't be available until the 26th, when all three groups will be counted simultaneously.

To those who have gotten their ballots by mail, follow the example of this individual, and get your ballot in, and make your voice heard.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Strange Tale From The Great Northwest

It seems that the decert bug that is so troubling SEIU is beginning to spread outside of Hotel California, and has now invaded a branch of SEIU 1199NW, covering Kitsap Mental Health Services in Bremerton, Washington...

Labor representatives have sent a memo to top legislators accusing Kitsap Mental Health Services management of union-busting and misusing state-appropriated funds to do it.

KMHS Executive Director Joe Roszak calls the accusations from Jonathan Rosenblum and Ellie Menzies of the Service Employees International Union “without merit.”

The SEIU represents more than 200 people who work at the county’s only public mental health agency in a wide range of capacities, including therapists, office workers and janitors. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW has been the only union at KMHS.

In the Dec. 18 memo to legislators, Rosenblum, the union’s assistant to the president, and Menzies, its legislative director, alleged that KMHS management used a “hostile” approach last spring in its dealings with the union that involved delays, demands for large concessions and failure to keep union representatives in the loop.

Pretty straightforward they-said, they-said stuff - but here's where it gets strange...

Management encouraged workers to drop out of the union in the fall, according to the memo. Rosenblum and Menzies alleged management offered each employee a $1,000 bonus as an inducement.

The union representatives also alleged that the $1,000 bonuses were a misuse of state funds and suggested a state investigation.

Rochelle Doan, spokeswoman for KMHS, had no comment Monday on the alleged $1,000 bonuses.

The union memo also suggested that KMHS management instigated a petition-gathering campaign to decertify the union. That petition, however, apparently got signatures from a majority of workers. It was submitted to management Dec. 11.

Doan suggested the petition came from below, not above.

“This was a choice of the staff. That’s the bottom line,” she said.

What? Management offering $1K bonuses to quit the union? Certainly there must be more to the story, and that is provided in this follow-up piece by the same author, a day later...

The National Labor Relations Board may ultimately decide whether workers at Kitsap Mental Health Services still are represented by the Service Employees International Union.

While one employee said there is some division among staff over the current status of the SEIU, many said Tuesday they want no part of it. The union has represented KMHS employees since about 1991 under two locals, including the present one, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.

SEIU leaders recently sent a letter to high-ranking legislators accusing KMHS of union-busting and misuse of state-appropriated funds. A day after that news was published in the Kitsap Sun, KMHS employees gave their perspectives on the story.

Some employees aren’t ruling out other union representation in the future.

“I felt like the union wanted me to believe that the management was bad and that I needed the protection of the union,” said therapist David Secrest. “I want a union that communicates and works with management without an adversarial relationship.”

Said clerk Jackie Fitzgerald, “I think we can do this ourselves.”

Agreed Tina D’Astoli, an office coordinator, “We’re going with no union ... We can always bring in another union; we could even be our own guild.

“It was anything but SEIU.”

That above quote, as well as the other quotes from the employees, have a seriously familiar ring to them, no?

The trouble started last spring.

A two-year contract covering about 200 employees was to expire March 31. Negotiations between management and the union weren’t going well.

“There was a distrust on both sides that was caustic,” D’Astoli said.

One of the issues taken up during bargaining appeared to break the camel’s back. An earlier dispute between the union and management over a state-authorized 1.4 percent pay hike that never materialized had been taken to arbitration. Management won, representatives for both sides said.

But the union resurrected the issue at the bargaining table, which D’Astoli said somehow widened the gap not only between the union and management, but the union and employees it represented.

Negotiations continued over many months.

In November, management came up with a proposal that included maintaining health-insurance premiums for one year before raising them modestly the second year; and wage increases held until July, when a 3 percent increase would begin to take effect.

It also called for a one-time $1,000 lump-sum payment for each employee, but it did not contain the 1.4 percent pay increase, according to D’Astoli.

And so we see the rationale for the $1K bonus that SEIU was so torqued off about in the first article.

What is also clear is that the rank-and-file and the SEIU officials bargaining on their behalf were undergoing a serious failure to communicate.

Workers said the union never brought the contract to them for a vote. D’Astoli said the union was sore about the 1.4 percent increase, that the management proposal didn’t include a provision to get Veterans Day off and there was no provision for a closed union shop.

Union representatives could not be reached Tuesday.

KMHS Executive Director Joe Roszak was reluctant to talk Tuesday, due to the pending charge of unfair labor practices recently brought by the union to the NLRB.

Relations between some staffers and the union apparently continued to sour, with the members believing the union was too aggressive.

In early December, D’Astoli began a petition calling on management to withdraw recognition of the union. She said it was signed by 55 percent of workers covered by the previous union contract.

Regarding union allegations that management coerced staffers to sign the petition, D’Astoli and many other staffers told the Kitsap Sun that wasn’t the case.

“This was of my own volition,” D’Astoli said.

She and the staffers also said management did not use $1,000 payments it had offered as a carrot to get them to decertify.

The petition was delivered to management Dec. 11. After that, management distributed the $1,000 payments, workers said.

Meanwhile, Roszak and Tom Hyde, KMHS board president, have been trying to neutralize any impact from a memo written by union leadership on Dec. 18 to legislators alleging unfair labor practices and illegal use of government funds for the $1,000 bonuses.

On Dec. 23, they wrote their own.

“There has been absolutely no misuse of Medicaid and/or NonMedicaid dollars by KMHS, and we have not used these or any other dollars to engage in ‘union-busting’ activities,” it stated.

As for the $1,000 payments, they wrote, “KMHS does not provide staff ‘bonuses’ or did KMHS provide staff a $1,000 ‘bonus’ as an inducement to decertify the union.”

For now, workers appear to have put a certain level of trust in management, even without a contract.

“I have no problems trusting what management was doing,” D’Astoli said.

Wow. Those SEIU 1199NW members are being placed on-record as trusting management over their union "representatives."

I have to confess that the $1K lump sum bonus or payout or however you want to phrase it looks fishy, but you have to wonder what the people at 1199NW are thinking in allowing such a disconnect to occur in the first place.

The comment threads in both articles are actually pretty good, and have input from multiple employees of KMHS, some who signed the decert and some who did not - and both sides seem to be able to maintain some amount of mutual respect for each other, but very little respect for Andy's Army.

It is apparent that these folks probably would like union representation, and that NUHW quite conceivably could be a good fit for them once Team Red gets away from all the red tape and NLRB hassles that are under way right now.

Still and all, decert petitions and wanting to get out of SEIU are not limited to Hotel California, and SEIU would be wise to pay closer attention to proplerly serving the people it has now, rather than focusing so much attention on keeping captive people who have expressed the clear desire to leave SEIU's clutches.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Kaiser SoCal Balloting Begins This Week

The Kaiser SoCal Psychosocial chapter and the Healthcare Professionals Chapter will have their ballots mailed out beginning tomorrow. The AFN-RN unit at Kaiser LAMC will vote on Wednesday and Thursday.

Vote early, vote often, just get out there and VOTE!

Check SBWF for the latest dirt on what the Zombie organizers are up to.

NUHW rising!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Looking Back at 2009

Tasty has done a 2009 top-ten countdown of SEIU bloopers, and I can't really put anything more to the list than what Tasty has done. Part one, bloopers 10 through 6, can be seen here, while part two, bloopers 5 through 1, can be seen here.

There's very little I can add to the list, save for the image of the UHW Chicken appearing at the San Francisco FUD fundraiser, followed the next day with the egg-tossing attacks by SEIU members down at the Los Angeles fundraiser, including nailing the VP of the United Teachers of Los Angeles with a long-distance egg-o-gram. It took what was seen largely as an "inside fight" within a union and gave SEIU an image of a bully which cannot brook dissent in any manner or shape or form.

All in all, 2009 has been a very bad year for SEIU in general, and SEIU-UHW in particular. Andy's army came into 2009 with practically unlimited access to the levers of power in Washington and in the Lamestream Media, and promptly began to piss it away - because "practically unlimited" evidently just wasn't enough for Our Glorious Maximum Leader. Beginning with the ghost-write of the Marshall Hearings findings (thus giving him the ostensible excuse to place UHW into trusteeship), selling out to Rose Ann DeMoro and CNA, and then injecting SEIU into the UNITE/HERE breakup, and now with the breakup of Change To Win and several unions leaving CTW and returning to AFL-CIO - all of these have contributed largely to the tarnishing of Stern's image, as well as that of SEIU.

On the ground here in Hotel California, it seems that Brave Sir Regan's pledge to drive a stake into the heart of NUHW hasn't quite come to pass. In head-to-head election competition, where SEIU defeated NUHW it did so by close margins (Fresno IHSS, Hawkins), but where NUHW has defeated SEIU it has done so by decisive margins (Doctors, Santa Rosa Memorial), occasionally even forcing SEIU to retreat from the field (Los Alamitos) or try to hide the outcome of the vote (Providence Tarzana).

Going forward into 2010, it will be interesting to see just how bad the financial picture is at UHW. I know that the UHW COPE contributions have plummeted, and I'm thinking that their dues revenue has taken a hit as well, as scads of UHW-covered rank-and-file employees have changed their status from having automatic deduction to paying monthly - if at all. Add that to the fact that UHW has not organized one new hospital in all of 2009, it's going to be interesting to see if UHW will even try to paper over their revenue issues on this year's upcoming LM-2 reports.

In the meantime, it appears that the beat will go on for NUHW, with elections coming up this week at KaiPerm in SoCal as well as others opening up as the NLRB finally figures out that SEIU's delaying actions are largely just that.

Happy New Year, all...