News of the Week: Kaiser union coalition disbands over SEIU bullying

Eye on SEIUApril 2, 2018

Each week we share articles on subjects that are important to NUHW and its members. Here are several must-read stories over the past seven days:

Last week, 21 local unions, representing about 45,000 Kaiser employees, left the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions to form their own new coalition, without SEIU-UHW, because they were fed up with the ongoing antics of SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan. In a letter to her members, United Nurses Associations of California President Denise Duncan wrote: “Our alliance of like-minded unions will no longer be held captive by SEIU-UHW. The behavior of SEIU-UHW continually fractured our unity and our ability to focus on bargaining. This is why we believe we serve you, our members, best by taking this strong action.”

Following a successful strike by teachers in West Virginia, CNN reports that educators in Oklahoma and Kentucky flooded state capitols today demanding more education funding for students.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has sued Sutter Health, accusing it of anti-competitive behavior that has driven up healthcare prices in the region, according to Modern Healthcare. Becerra said the health system’s contracting practices with health insurance carriers were done under an “all or nothing” approach that restricted insurers from providing low-cost health plan options to California residents. He also accused Sutter of setting excessively high out-of-network prices and restricting transparency around provider cost information.

This week’s Labor Notes conference will take place in Chicago where SEIU has ruled one Local by fiat after ousting its democratically-elected leaders. Steve Early, who has chronicled NUHW’s origin, gives a good overview of SEIU’s many attacks on its own members and their locally-elected leaders.

The 95-year-old company that makes Peeps, Just Born Quality Confections, wants to block new employees from enrolling in the multi-employer pension it has offered workers for decades, a retirement plan it funds along with roughly 200 other companies. The Washington Post reports that while many other companies facing similar pressures have left pensions in recent years, Just Born wants to bar new employees from the plan without paying a $60 million fee required under federal law, saying it must do so to remain competitive.

An elusive 42-year-old Silicon Valley tech worker has inserted himself into the forefront of California’s hottest health care debate: whether it should adopt a statewide single-payer health care system, California Healthline reports. His Facebook group, Enact Universal Healthcare for California, has more than 106,000 followers — just one sign of the issue’s general appeal to many voters. Dale Fountain is the unlikely leader of a campaign to place an initiative on the state’s November ballot that would make it easier to fund a single-payer system — one in which the state would set the rules and pay the medical claims for all California residents.

Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants is costing elderly Americans their caregivers, Kaiser Health News reports. Nationwide, 1 million immigrants work in direct care — as CNAs, personal care attendants or home health aides — according to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, a New York-based organization that studies the workforce. Immigrants make up 1 in 4 workers, said Robert Espinoza, PHI’s vice president of policy. Turnover is high, he said, because the work is difficult and wages are low.

Healthcare costs about 30 percent more in Northern California than the rest of the state primarily because of greater hospital consolidation, according to a recent study written about in the San Francisco Chronicle.

NUHW Executive Board member Porfirio Quintana was interviewed recently by labor journalist Cal Winslow.