How SEIU’s partnership with Kaiser hurts all of us, including patients

NewsNovember 8, 2012

This is basic.

As healthcare workers, if we witness a supervisor snorting drugs on the job, we should feel safe to report that supervisor without fear of recrimination. And we should know that we are protected by our union.

Protecting whistleblowers is not just what’s moral and right. It’s also in the best interest of our patients and our co-workers.

But according to a lawsuit filed against Kaiser and SEIU-UHW, that’s exactly the opposite of what happened at a Kaiser facility in San Francisco.

According to the lawsuit, after repeatedly witnessing what appeared to be suspicious behavior that indicated that her supervisor was “using illegal drugs,” including allegedly seeing her supervisor “snorting a white powder through rolled up dollar bills,” a Kaiser SEIU member did the right thing and notified Kaiser management.

Little did she know that she would end up being fired by Kaiser on drummed up false charges, and, worse, that SEIU-UHW officials would be ‘openly hostile’ to her, try to pressure her into signing an agreement that conceded management’s false accusations against her, unilaterally drop her grievance against Kaiser for unlawful termination, and even join with Kaiser to go after her in court.

Nobody should be treated this way by their employer for doing the right thing. And no worker should have to experience their own union teaming up with management to push them out of their job in order to protect a supervisor allegedly snorting meth on the job.

Now, the Kaiser whistleblower is fighting back. She recently won a decision in United States District Court against SEIU and Kaiser, affirming her right to sue them for her termination and their illegal retaliation against her.

As Kaiser workers, we see daily evidence that SEIU’s partnership with Kaiser has cost us in ways great and small: from the erosion of our health and retirement benefits, to layoffs and rebids in our departments, to a completely uncalled for 9 cent per hour “partnership tax” on every worker that SEIU agreed to give to Kaiser even though Kaiser is making billions in profits already.

But when SEIU’s partnership with Kaiser Permanente goes so far as protecting a supervisor who is allegedly snorting drugs on the job, and then joining with management to illegally fire the healthcare worker who blows the whistle, that ‘partnership’ starts looking more like corruption.

Won’t you share this leaflet  (English / Spanish)  about this incident with your co-workers and start a discussion about how SEIU’s partnership with Kaiser hurts all of us today?


Ilda Rodrigues,
Medicine, Kaiser Walnut Creek
National Union of Healthcare Workers   

PS. You can read more about this story at and WorkingInTheseTimes.