“Corporate Collaborator” Dave Regan undercut by SEIU International; SEIU-UHW members caught in crossfire

California Pacific Medical CenterJuly 1, 2015

“In the labor movement, there are two kinds of leaders — those who fight big corporations, and those who collaborate with them,” Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court wrote in the Huffington Post this week. “The poster child for the collaborators just had half his membership taken away.

“David Regan, head of United Healthcare Workers West, who inked sweetheart deals with California’s largest HMO, Kaiser and its hospitals, to keep quality-of-care problems hush-hush, and only fought for corporations’ political goals, lost 70,000 of his 150,000 members recently.

“It’s a fitting fate for one of labor’s biggest corporate sellouts.”

Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU International, is shoring up her power base within the union by unilaterally cutting SEIU–UHW in half and moving 70,000 home care workers into a new local. SEIU–UHW members not only didn’t get to vote on the move, they were not even aware of it until the deal was done.

Those who remember the 2009 trusteeship of SEIU–UHW will appreciate the irony of this latest fiasco, which Cal Winslow has dissected in his latest article, “Pawns in SEIU’s Game,” published this week by CounterPunch and BeyondChron.

This same top-down decision to eviscerate SEIU–UHW was the basis for the trusteeship that resulted in the ouster of the union’s previous leaders, who went on to form democratic, member-led NUHW with the support of thousands of SEIU–UHW members. It was clear then that the transfer was purely a political move, a scheme by SEIU International’s then President Andy Stern and then Vice President Mary Kay Henry to get rid of the democratic leadership of SEIU–UHW and put it firmly under the control of SEIU International in Washington DC. And if anyone doubted that fact, it was later made abundantly clear when Stern and Henry decided not to follow through on the move once they’d installed their friend Dave Regan as president of SEIU–UHW.

Stern has since moved on to join the ranks of corporate America, leaving Mary Kay Henry in charge, and now she’s resurrected the scheme, this time to undermine her former protégé, Regan, who has responded with an outlandishly hypocritical memo that rails against the very same actions that helped get him his job in 2009. Regan was in favor of carving up SEIU–UHW when it worked in his favor but calls it “a massive betrayal” now that it doesn’t.

Click here to read Dave Regan’s memo. If you think it sounds familiar, it is. These are the same arguments voiced by NUHW leaders when they were ousted from SEIU–UHW by Regan, Henry, and Stern six years ago.

One could almost find it amusing if it weren’t so tragic. A once democratic union that was built through decades of struggle has been steadily undermined over the past six years until it has become a corporatized branch of the autocratic SEIU International. And now, with the transfer of half of SEIU–UHW’s membership into a new local, the dismantling of what was once the biggest, strongest, proudest healthcare union in California is nearly complete.

Our condolences to SEIU–UHW members, who remain trapped in an undemocratic and increasingly corporate-minded union whose leaders protect their own power at the expense of the workers they ostensibly represent.