Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

More on SEIU’s Deal with Kaiser Permanente

The more you read about it, Kaiser Permanente sounds more like Kaiser Soze. The health care juggernaut has long been highlighted as a model responsible (read: friendly) employer. A key to that has been deals allowing unions to represent its employees (often with bad results for their staff). We get a little more insight from the Socialists:

One example involves a deal brokered between the AFL-CIO (which included the SEIU at the time) and the health care giant Kaiser Permanente. The accord allowed several federation unions, including the SEIU, to organize Kaiser workers on the condition that they encourage their own members to get their benefits through Kaiser.

Out of this deal also came a labor-management body that involved the union in making decisions on changes such as closures and expansions. However, the union was forbidden to talk about these discussions, and any decisions made jointly were not binding anyway.

Yolanda Rios, a member of SEIU Local 399, criticized the agreement, saying it “takes things out of our hands.” She explained, “Our problem here has been that while the union organizes [new workers], it doesn’t represent us well. We want to fight the company more effectively and win better conditions at work.”

That’s the model SEIU leaders hold up to show how great they are. But they cut other deals, and the Socialists report:

One such deal, the 2003 “Agreement to Advance the Future of Nursing Home Care in California” allowed the SEIU to organize nursing home workers without resistance from the employers in exchange for the SEIU helping the companies get more subsidies from the state.

But the workers actually didn’t receive “more of a voice on the job.” In fact, under the new contracts, they can’t report health care violations unless required to by law (surely making employees afraid to speak up in any situation). Nor can they negotiate for improvements in benefits. The employers, on the other hand, would have the exclusive right to manage minor details such as pay, hiring and firing.

Categories: SEIU